Complex work. Teams spread across offices, homes, hotels, cars and airports. That’s the modern reality for business leaders —work happens everywhere at once. And it’s more than that. Work happens on all kinds of devices, from desktop to mobile. Today, co-workers mingle flexibly in pairs and groups. They meet up in spaces designed specifically to encourage innovation and ideation. The modern workplace is one where ongoing innovation is valued above all else –, especially for growing organizations. And this flexibility extends well beyond four walls. Think about the way you work today and how it has evolved. Chances are it’s no longer 9 ‘til 5. Mobile employees, contract workers, freelancers, working parents, and the growing army of crowdsourced employees in co-working spaces … today’s businesses need to have the tools to connect and empower everyone. And they should. Employees expect a flexible work-from-wherever experience. They expect to not let little things like hemispheres and time zones get in the way of good ideas. Collaboration in real-time and in virtual workspaces is considered table stakes. Consider this. In today’s disruptive economy, it’s more important than ever to create and innovate. Start-ups can quickly become the next big global corporation with the right mix of innovation, technology, and talent. How? By focusing on the following:
Strong communication between employees drives the most successful teams. Allow your teams to determine how they want to communicate upfront and find the right tool(s) to meet their needs.
Focus on goals and results
Make work modular, with tangible deliverables replacing office hours. Teams begin to align more around shared goals and delivering desired results.
Diverse teams are powerful, with each employee bringing their unique perspective and experiences to the table. And sometimes this diversity literally means working with people outside of your business to gain new insights. When that happens, it’s important to know that you have a secure, fast, and trusted method of communication.
Get organized for speed
Agile teams have regular rapid-fire meetings. Access to collaboration tools such as online meeting solutions and persistent messaging platforms are critical and enable teams to quickly engage, ideate, and share.
What does this mean for business leaders? If you want to foster innovation within your company, it’s time to prioritize technology that creates opportunities to share concepts and opinions, to brainstorm, envision and dream, no matter what those dreams are. By creating the right environment through focusing on communication, goals, diversity and speed, you get a stream of ideas that might turn out to be the next Uber or Airbnb. But you need the right collaboration tools to get you there and there are lots of options to consider. So when it’s time to select your voice, video, meetings, and messaging tools for your team, consider the following.
Not all collaboration tools encrypt your data, which may leave it vulnerable to hackers and malicious users. When it comes to how your employees share customer information, product development updates, and personal details, it’s better to not leave anything to chance. Look for a vendor that takes your cybersecurity seriously and encrypts data.
It almost goes without saying that using your collaboration tools should be simple, easy, and enjoyable. The video should make team members feel like they are sitting at the same table, even if they are separated by thousands of kilometers. Audio should be clear and reliable. Meetings should start with the click of a button. The experience should be the same whether someone joins from their computer or mobile or video device. And all of this should integrate seamlessly with each other, and your other productivity tools.
Simplicity (and reliability)
The last thing you need is for your meetings or video solution to require hours of troubleshooting or support every time an update is available. Look for cloud-based solutions that automatically update when newer versions are available and require less hands-on expertise and management. And remember that your collaboration tools will only work as well as your network will allow, so double-check that your infrastructure can support the increase in data required by video and meetings.
Your business may not require voice, video, meetings, and messaging tools. Or your business may require all of them. Evaluate how your employees prefer to work, where they prefer to work, and when. Then look for the tools that will enhance how your employees complete tasks, at a cost you can manage.
LISSA RICCI, Vice President of small business solutions for Cisco Canada. She is passionate about technology and how it can help growing businesses achieve their goals. See how collaboration solutions can help your business by trying Cisco Webex for free at webex.ca.