Let’s face it, 2020 hasn’t been an easy year to be in IT. You’ve likely been tasked with enabling remote work, helping employees with their new work-from-home (WFH) setups, sourcing digital collaboration tools, and training employees at a distance. By now, you’re hopefully out of survival stage and looking for ways to make this new normal as efficient and productive as possible.
And when we say “new normal,” we don’t just mean until the end of the pandemic. In Part 2 of The Future of Work report, we found 72% of workers in the U.S. expect to continue working from home after the pandemic has ended, and 73% say WFH policies will be very or extremely important to them in future job opportunities.
So, for the future of your company, solving remote work woes is critical – especially the challenges that come with remote collaboration. To help you get there, we’ve outlined the challenges of working remotely in 2020 (pulled from our report) and the steps your IT department can take to address them.
What do employees have to say about remote collaboration challenges?
They want better software and technology access
Compared to last year, workers in 2020 find their workflows less efficient, less updated, and more likely to decrease productivity. This is especially true among those who work 8+ hours/day on a computer.
Data tells us that just getting better tools isn’t enough to solve remote collaboration challenges. Without standardized workflows across teams and departments, workers are likely to stick to their old way of doing things. This causes low user adoption, siloed working environments, and ultimately lower ROI on your digital tools.
This is likely why 35% of workers report wanting more standardization in document processes. When each team member or department has their own way of completing a task, collaboration is that much harder.
They want more training
Training matters. Even the best remote collaboration tools and standardized working processes won’t improve collaboration if team members can’t use those tools effectively.
Thirty-eight percent of workers believe that more or better training would improve productivity and document processes. By reducing the disparate, fragmented workflows across your organization, you’ll also reduce worker frustration.
They miss the personal touch
This issue is unavoidable with remote work, but you can find ways to make it better. You may not have the convenience of walking over to someone’s desk to troubleshoot their tech issues…but you can foster real-time collaboration from home – without more video conferences.
Real-time collaboration tools, like instant messaging or cloud-based document collaboration, are the next best thing to the immediacy of in-person collaboration. They increase efficiency without adding to the email overload and Zoom fatigue.
How IT departments can help solve remote collaboration challenges
There’s no magic bullet for addressing all the pain points with remote collaboration. But the steps to getting there are actually pretty straightforward and look similar for almost any organization.
1. Identify pain points among your company’s employees when it comes to remote collaboration
You likely have some insight into this already, but hearing thoughts directly from employees can be illuminating. What are their daily barriers to productivity and collaboration? What might make their lives easier and give them more time to focus on work that matters? Sending out a simple research survey to your team could be a great place to start.
2. Identify tools that solve their problems
Look for solutions that address your team’s most common complaints and suggestions, keeping in mind that they should be user-friendly and affordable enough to distribute to everyone in your organization. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for low user adoption and even more confusion about your workflows.
For example, if you’re only giving eSigning capabilities to team members who sign the most, you haven’t really solved the challenge. You’ve simply given your team two separate workflows – paper and digital – to worry about instead of one.
It’s also wise to opt for all-in-one solutions whenever possible. App overload is real, and the more digital tools you introduce at once, the harder time you’ll have a harder time training and implementing new, efficient workflows.
3. Create standardized workflows for your most common tasks
As you well know, digital tools don’t solve problems alone. With management’s help, advocate for creating standardized processes. Let employees know exactly how and for what tasks they should use these new tools. Otherwise, at least some of your team is likely to stick to their old ways of working, making collaboration that much harder.
4. Provide training
Think of employee training as the bow that ties it all together. This is how employees will learn to use their new tools efficiently, be one the same page with their new workflows, and ultimately find remote collaboration smoother and easier. If you aren’t sure where to start, our four keys to successful change management can help.
We know that the future of work is digital and remote. We also know that the backbone of that future is IT. So while you’ve been working overtime to improve remote work and collaboration for your company, know that you’re providing more than a temporary solution – you’re driving your organization toward the future of work.
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