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The Role of Workplace Tech in Organisational Collaboration

Mike Halliday, Multimedia Director at Cordless, highlights some of the key aspects to consider in enabling today’s collaborative workforce…

1. Assess the business requirements

‘True Collaboration’ is a phrase that we hear a lot! Everyone seems to want it. But how do we reach that goal when there are so many ways of collaborating with different tech? Whilst there might not (yet!) be a one-stop solution for collaboration available, the key thing is to choose a platform that will be universally accessible and in operation for years. Review objectively what the business really needs, decide on a strategy and make sure everyone is given access to that solution from the outset. Backtracking to retrofit collaborative tech into a workplace infrastructure is expensive and rarely provides good results. 

Let’s consider an example. Skype for Business is thought of as being consistent and very accessible from different devices, but in reality it needs to be tested for compatiblity with the tech you want your workforce to use – from internal user handheld devices, PCs and laptops right up to the larger collaborative screen tech such as Surface Hub, Jamboard or InfinityBoard, and extending to external user devices to allow inter-company communication and collaboration when required. 

Decide what will best support your business decision making and BAU process. What are the different types of users that need to collaborate and how would they prefer to communicate with each other?  Focus on strategy from the outset. By raising and answering the right questions in the early workplace visioning phase will enable the best decision on implementing a commonly accessible platform with hardware to suit.

2. The role tech plays in enabling environments

Ok, step back from the actual tech itself for one second. It is all very well providing shiny new touch surfaces, but you need to think about the environment surrounding the tech and how people need to work within it now and over the next 5-10 years. So, for example, if you need document sharing, collaboration and Video Conferencing at the same time, various elements need to be considered: firstly, the touch screens will need to be installed at the right places in the building. How will you be looking at the stuff you are sharing? Do you want people to Video Conference from their desktops? Will the screens on your monitors and your laptops be big enough? What about background noise from the office, air con and the acoustics of the space?

At all times, remember consistency – solutions should be delivered to a common specification and standard, particularly from a usability perspective even if the hardware varies to suit a particular environment.

Think about the user adoption – tech won’t work if you don’t tell anyone how to use it! This is especially the case for some of the more complicated systems in meeting rooms – some people may be nervous faced with operating unfamiliar technology. You really don’t want to end up with a white elephant.

To encourage user adoption, put control in the hands of the user as far as possible and train people properly on how to use the different tech solutions available from the outset, well in advance of when the equipment is required to be used. People don’t like being told what to do and being able to choose how to contact each other fosters creativity, commitment and effectiveness. The fact that the communication is allowed to flow is what matters, whether that be through FaceTime, VC, IM, softphones or email. Don’t forget the ability to record, capture and share interactions, especially in environments that are likely to be highly audited. 

3. The effective use of content

Content is another huge aspect to give proper thought to before you commit to new tech. Blank screens are an expensive waste of money and real estate. What information and data do people need to enable and improve their environment? How often do you go into a reception and see a beautiful screen with BBC or repetitive messaging playing on loop? The best use of money? Probably not. 

Content should be targeted and updated regularly. Do you really need expensive screens and signage throughout the office floor or can people look up what they need on their individual devices? Who will manage the content on an ongoing basis? External feeds can also be pulled into content management systems to provide info like weather updates, tube status and travel times. 

Final thoughts…

There are multiple factors to enable effective collaboration and each organisation will be unique as to its decision making factors. 

Before you embark on new workplace tech, consider your target audience: what they need; what they will use; and, how they will work. Map out a consistent approach that suits your business and culture. Review ongoing performance and approach to the use of equipment and collaborative areas in the business to avoid solutions becoming dormant. 

Well thought out means well used. 

Want to find out more? 

We’d love to discuss workplace collaboration with you. Say

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:50:10 +0100 GMT

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