Today, the working environment is more diverse than ever. Some people continue to work from the office, while others work from home, and some do both, taking a hybrid approach, writes Donna Taylor, Customer Success manager of award-winning Glasscubes.

Of those employees that work remotely, 70% said that they feel left out of the workplace. That’s no surprise, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic, which merely accelerated the work-from-home culture, with workers becoming increasingly isolated and distant from their colleagues.

Staff have reported that the problem has been exacerbated by a lack of knowledge sharing and communication. As a result, collaboration – the key to a successful team – has suffered, and, thus, so has engagement and productivity, and, ultimately, the company’s results.

The main benefit of working remotely, however, is that, if set up properly with the right equipment, systems and software, the employee is digitally-enabled and can, therefore, work more effectively. If that technology is correctly harnessed, it can foster greater teamwork, allowing tasks to be accomplished more efficiently than people working in their own silos.

Communication is key

The cornerstone of strong collaboration is effective communication. That means equipping workers with the tools that they need to stay in contact, ranging from phone calls and texts to emails and video conferencing.

Each tool should be used for a specific purpose. For example, phone or video calls are more effective for getting questions answered and finding out detailed information, whereas emails are better for quick confirmation of a fact or figure.

There are a host of online communication tools now available, such as Zoom and WebEx, that enable team members to interact with each other more effectively. They can be used for almost everything that can be done in an office, from holding one-to-one and team meetings to doing client calls.

Online workspace versatility

An extension of that is the online workspace, like Teams and Trello, where, as well as communicating with each other, team members can collaborate on and manage their projects in the same place across different locations and time zones. By being able to work on shared files and documents in real-time, they can make additions or changes almost instantly, without first having to wait for a colleague to complete their task.

Their popularity has soared in recent years, with the use of digital collaboration tools up 44% since the start of the pandemic, a Gartner study has found. In the future, 48% of chief information officers predict that more than half their budget will go on enabling these technology investments to reach their full potential, according to Cisco.

As well as using the right software and systems, it’s vital to have the right infrastructure in place to support teams. The cloud enables that, with the global network of servers that hosts multiple databases and software allowing team members to access and work on the same applications and files whenever and wherever they are in the world.

Choosing the right technology

All of this technology is a great enabler for collaboration, but it’s essential for firms to choose the right equipment and applications that are most appropriate and work best for them. Therefore, they need to do their research thoroughly, such as looking at reviews and feedback, and, where possible, test the product, before engaging the technology provider they have selected.

While it’s important to try and stick to the budget, businesses need to view this technology as a long-term investment that will provide a greater return over time. It’s also paramount to constantly keep monitoring and updating the technology to make sure that it works for everyone, and is as effective and efficient as possible. Additionally, it’s better to make regular small tweaks as it is generally more expensive to make bigger upgrades if they haven’t been done for some time.

The benefits of effective collaboration are clear. Workers who feel more included in workplace communication are almost five times more likely to report increased productivity than those that aren’t, according to a McKinsey study.

Technology has a leading role of play in this. That’s reflected in the 39% of business leaders who agree that introducing digital collaboration platforms is the decisive factor in making remote working sustainable, a Deloitte study has found.

The working environment has changed beyond recognition over the past decade. And companies need to ensure that they have the right systems and equipment in place to continue to support effective team collaboration over the next 10 years and beyond.

About the author

Donna Taylor, Customer Success manager of award-winning Glasscubes, which specialises in enabling companies to collaborate with people inside or outside their organisation, using a rich set of tools from client portals, online workspaces, intranets and information gathering. Glasscubes helps well over 50,000 users in more than 100 countries to maximise their workforce’s potential through an online secure system.