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Why it’s time we democratised and demystified workplace technology

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By Pip White, Senior Vice President and General Manager, EMEA, Slack

Imagine you have just started a new role. It’s a hybrid job, and your first day will be undertaken remotely. You open up the box containing your company phone and laptop, ready to start the day. However, what you find inside is a Nokia 3310 and a PC running Windows 95.

We all know that this outlandish scenario wouldn’t be acceptable. How are you supposed to work effectively with decades-old technology?

It’s common sense too, that businesses wouldn’t want to do this. It’s a universal goal for organisations to provide their teams with tools that will help them deliver, rather than slow them down.

Yet when it comes to the software workers use—from email to spreadsheets and offline docs—we’re often stuck in the past. Employees are spending too much of their time using tools that haven’t had a meaningful update since before the first iPhone was launched. This reliance on decades-old software is holding businesses back.

Looking ahead, organisations should invest in tools that help them democratise access to the best tech has to offer: automation, custom workflows, and integrations. These aren’t elements of a sci-fi future, but key components of the digital headquarters (HQ) that every business needs today.

So, how can organisations finally break-free from the ancient software that obstructs innovation and make the most of a digital HQ?

It’s time to accept email’s era has ended

The first email was sent in 1971. Half a century later, it’s time to accept email’s era has come to a close. Why? Because emails silo work — they are untransparent and exclusionary (think how easy it is to be accidentally missed off an important email chain). On top of that, email lacks security (94% of malware is delivered by email). Finally, email simply slows work down. Searching through an inbox, hunting down attachments, filtering out the junk — all of this takes time away from engaging and impactful work.

Legacy tools like email also aren’t suited to the realities of modern work. When work is more dispersed, cross-functional, and more flexible than ever, email no longer cuts it. Today, just 16.9% of UK workers want to be in a physical office full-time. The majority are now hybrid or remote workers who need tools that can connect them seamlessly – whether they are at home, in the office, or working from literally anywhere..

By shifting instead to a cohesive digital HQ that keeps communication transparent, organisations can break free from the silos and sluggishness that email creates. Defaulting to channel-based messaging instead, in which conversations are organised around projects, teams, or topics, makes it simpler to find information and share ideas at speed.

If breaking away from email is step one in democratising an organisation’s tech choices, then the next step is starting to unlock the benefits of an integrated digital HQ.

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Integrate, integrate, integrate

A further benefit of moving away from siloed software and into a cohesive digital HQ is the opportunity to integrate tools. Whether it’s pulling real-time updates from GitHub into your channel-based messaging platform, or being able to start a Zoom meeting in a single click in response to an urgent message, integrations drive agility in the digital HQ.

With less time swapping between apps, and with information accessible right in the channel, it’s simpler to problem solve and respond to challenges. Likewise, with updates in one place (rather than spread across disparate apps) the risk of duplicated work is reduced — when people can see what’s happening, false starts can be averted.

LetsGetChecked, an organisation which helps people better manage their health and identify issues, offers just one example of how integrating tools can transform the pace of work.

The busy tech team at LetsGetChecked integrated its most-used software development apps right into its channel-based digital HQ, so it can build better code and ship it faster. From using Jira Cloud to create backlogs and prioritise items, to using GitHub as a source control tool, integrations have enabled LetsGetChecked to rapidly route information to the relevant people on its tech team. Meanwhile, monitoring and support apps are integrated to the channel, meaning when an issue arises developers can instantly pinpoint it. With less time checking different tools, the team has driven up efficiency and can focus on shipping great code.

Automation beyond the tech team

Receiving instant alerts straight into messaging channels, rather than manually checking apps, is only the beginning of automation’s potential. Advances in low-and-no code tech (which make building automated workflows simple without any technical knowledge) means that a truly digital HQ can now enable every employee to reduce routine or repetitive tasks and get time back in their days.

Whether gathering information when onboarding, instantly assigning someone to review a piece of work, or crowdsourcing new ideas, automations can realise new productivity gains in day-to-day work. IT leaders recognise the potential here, and 92% say they are comfortable with the use of low code tools by business users. It’s time for organisations to invest in the solutions that put the power of automation at their team’s fingertips.

If organisations cut themselves loose from outdated technology, they can empower every employee with a digital HQ that streamlines work. With democratised access to integrations and automations, teams can make work smarter on their terms. The result will be workplaces where everyone has the time to focus on the tasks that matter most, while the days of digging through an email inbox in frustration will be happily relegated to the past.

About the author

Pip WhitePip White is the SVP & GM of EMEA at Slack, a messaging app for business which lets you organise conversations into channels so everyone moves faster and stays in sync. She has over 20 years of experience working across the technology market in both sales and GM leadership roles.

Having previously held senior leadership positions at Salesforce, before joining Google Cloud as Managing Director for the UK&I, Pip is driving and accelerating Slack’s leadership in EMEA. Her expertise is in high growth and fast paced technology environments which require strong alignment across multiple functions and a growth mindset. Turning around culture, strong people leadership, high growth and transformation programmes are where she excels.