Companies that choose a remote or hybrid workplace as their operating model for the near future need to consider several technology requirements to ensure their workforce remains productive.
From communication tools to tracking and monitoring software to host desk tools and more, there is a continuous stream of functionalities that organizations will have to navigate as they steer a course to the future.
Keeping up with the latest tech takes effort and planning — and the decision to adopt one tool over another should not be made lightly. The wrong software can contribute to a decline in productivity but also disengagement and miscommunication.
On the flip side, leaders who make a conscious investment in leveraging technologies that help support the requirements of their teams stand to benefit from greater productivity and a stronger culture.
Focus on Connecting Data Across Tools
Today’s workers are dependent on multiple "best-of-breed" productivity tools to get their work done, from email to instant messaging to document sharing and collaboration, said Kelly Griswold, chief operating officer at New York City-based Onna.
One thing these tools have in common is the promise to make workers’ lives easier and more productive. That often comes at the expense of deeper insights due to information being kept in silos across the many tools being used.
It is therefore important for leaders to select workplace technology for a single purpose, but also be sure to consider how it integrates with other tools to collect and share data. The goal for workplace technology should be to unify the workforce and surface the key information and insights they need to get the job done.
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5 Tech Considerations for a Productive Digital Workplace
1. Cloud-based Document Management
When working across multiple channels, sites and applications, it is easy for companies to produce hundreds of documents, videos, spreadsheets and forms each day. This can make the tracking of business processes a significant challenge and lead to siloed departments and duplication.
“Employees, companies, customers, operations, marketing and other information should be kept organized for simple access and timely insights,” said Andrew Dale, technical director at Surrey, UK-based CloudTech24.
A cloud-based document management solution offers the greatest chance of keeping data organized, he said. Beyond document management, these tools also provide an interactive, adaptive learning environment and analytics, ensuring that the information employees receive is relevant and timely. They also offer a search platform that makes it easy to quickly access files across the entire company.
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2. Project or Work Management Software
To increase agility and productivity, teams need to manage projects and tasks efficiently. Project management technology such as Asana, Basecamp or Monday.com can help companies track the status of every task in the pipeline.
These solutions should provide simple-to-use workflows that enable teams to plan, execute, resolve issues and evaluate results. This helps unify data that may be scattered across a variety of applications and bring it all together into one central repository, enabling workers to search across multiple data sources simultaneously.
3. Collaboration and Communication Tools
Some of the biggest challenges remote workers face include loneliness and difficulty collaborating. Within a remote or hybrid model, it is all the more important for organizations to provide comprehensive tools for social collaboration in order to strengthen the company's culture and foster a more engaged workforce.
Calvin Sun, senior director of compensation, benefits and talent analytics at Schaumburg, Ill.-based Paylocity, said his company was able to determine, using an internal data-tracking tool, that increased usage of its community social collaboration tool resulted in lower voluntary turnover, higher headcount and improved engagement.
Leaders should also use collaboration tools to communicate with employees and give them real-time feedback. By setting an example for the type of communication and collaboration the executive leadership wants to see, they help set the overall tone.
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4. Process Automation
Automation is an important aspect of an efficient and productive modern-day enterprise. According to Dale, process automation is a basic requirement for companies that want to be more agile.
"You may save a lot of time and resources by identifying and automating routine operations in each department,” he said.
Automating workflows across applications, sites and social media channels will be crucial in enabling agility and productivity into the future. It helps reduce manual processes and supports integration between different solutions. For instance, a company can link its work management tool with its communication channel to deliver automated alerts when there’s a process update.
5. Process/Employee Monitoring Tools
Analytics tools are another essential technology for modern organizations. Having cost-intensive processes and technologies set up without a way to track their performance can negatively impact the bottom line. On the positive side, insights gleaned from these analytics tools can also be used to continuously improve processes, workflow and structure. That's not to mention, their usefulness in assessing whether or not digital workplace software is performing up to expectations.
One more consideration is to use a monitoring app to track and monitor the performance of employees. While these tools can be controversial because of the employee privacy implications when used without transparency, they can improve employee productivity and visibility and enable better engagement and insight into daily performance.