How does technology impact employee engagement? We posed this question to Workshare Co-founder and CTO, Barry Hadfield to see what he'd have to say in light of some of its recent releases.

Last week, Workshare announced an integration with Microsoft SharePoint and Autonomy iManage. The integration allows users to securely share documents in fewer clicks, saving time and increasing security for users collaborating inside and outside the organization.

By making sure users do not need to download documents and send them as an email attachment, SharePoint and iManage users can easily synchronize documents stored in the DMS or ECM to Workshare’s secure platform. While this is just the first in a series of planned integrations to bridge the gap between traditional document management systems (DMS) and enterprise content management (ECM) systems, we couldn’t help but wonder about the impact these types of integration have on employee engagement.

How does Workshare’s integration with SharePoint and Autonomy impact employee engagement, as well as productivity?


Barrie Hadfield: For the enterprise to successfully establish a collaborative environment that fosters true engagement, employees need to be able to work together in a way they’re familiar with. If you think of the way we communicate in our personal lives -- via social networking, instant messaging and texting, for example -- it’s instantaneous, well-integrated and right there at your fingertips.

These are the very qualities we’re trying to bring to enterprise collaboration. By mimicking how people communicate in their everyday lives, with a solution that’s simple and easy to use, your employees will feel as though they are engaging naturally -- this is perhaps the highest form of employee engagement.

Of course, the social aspect of any type of collaborative solution is key, but you don’t want to lose sight of its end goal: productivity. Simplifying workflows is just as important as simplifying communication, and you can tackle this from the same approach, by adjusting for what employees are already familiar with. This is why we have integrated with legacy document management systems like iManage and SharePoint -- so users can work with what they know.

We’re also boosting engagement and productivity with our comparison technology. For anyone who has collaborated with a team of colleagues on a single document, they know how frustrating it can be, with different versions getting lost in the shuffle or overlapping edits. Workshare allows users to compare even the most complex documents with just the click of a button. We keep a detailed audit trail of which changes have been made, so users can roll back to each of their previous document versions, and the UI makes it easy to identify which changes have occurred and when, instead of reading through the entire document to see what is different.

We’ve also improved productivity for users on the go, giving them the ability to mobilize content and collaborate from their tablet or smartphone, outside of the office environment. We’ve even taken this a step further with syncing capabilities that allow users to even work offline, while ensuring any new document changes are synced back to our cloud platform as soon as they regain a network connection. Ultimately, we’re serving up access to user documents anywhere at any time, allowing staff to work when they want using whatever channel they’d like.

While we are very focused on the user experience, we’ve still granted the enterprise the tools they need to maintain control. These include things like the ability to set specific permissions, encryption and user authentication. At the end of the day, the security and integrity of your organizations’ content is equally as important.

By seamlessly combining social collaboration and document collaboration into a single entity, organizations can effectively balance their work environment in a way that addresses the needs of its users, as well as the needs of the enterprise."

Simplify Workflows, Simplify Communication

None of this is surprising. After all, we've learned this month that social collaboration tools can help solve a lot of issues, from engagement to work at home issues. But it’s not the technology -- it’s how it is used. Changing behaviors in a way that can positively affect the way people work is key. How you help change behaviors, whether through gamification or instant gratification depends on your company culture.

These insights from Mr. Hadfiel shed light on how even the most basic integrations can have a big impact of how employees work. How much time do you spent attaching documents to email? It might not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. If you can make it so even sending and synchronizing documents is as easy as it is on your personal devices, it’s a start to facilitating employee engagement.