How you create your workforce and work environment is important, and there has been a debate playing out the past decade (maybe more) around the concept of a virtual workplace. We have seen companies big and small create a virtual workplace, then change their policy, only to change it again. Companies such IBM, Yahoo, and HP are examples of global companies which seem to change their policies every couple years. Then there are companies created within the last decade which believe "virtual" is the only way to grow their business.
Regardless of which side of the debate your company falls on, today we have more tools and technology to support a virtual workplace than we ever have. It's easier today, and costs significantly less, for your company to embrace a remote working environment.
Think about what is available today, most of our productivity tools (email, calendaring, project planning, files, etc.) are stored online, easily shared with people across our company and even those outside the company. Our HR systems are accessible from via the internet, and in the majority of cases, through our phones. We have extended our companies in the virtual world, allowing them to be borderless, it only makes sense our employees are moving in the same direction.
The key with having a virtual workforce, is not losing the personal touch - it's easy to allow ourselves to become isolated behind a keyboard (although, many employees feel isolated today in their cubicles). That's why it's important to take steps beyond mere technology, and create creative ways for your teams and employees to feel they are part of something bigger, and working on a common goal.
As you take steps with your video conferencing (and we believe every company should be), you need to remember that behind every keyboard and every screen is a person, a valuable employee to your company. So, here are some tips to keep those employees happy and productive.
Make it easy to collaborate - the first is the most important. We have the tools for collaboration, but we need to make it easy to use them. Nothing is more frustrating than having access so something that is hard to use, difficult to share, crashes, etc. To go virtual, and not create a technology support headache, make all your tools seamless to use. Seems like a no brainer, but it does take some upfront planning to pull off.
Allow the use of "personal" tool - this goes hand in hand with the first point. You may have a "policy" to use Microsoft Office - but one of your employees prefers the Google Gsuite. Is it 100% important to enforce the policy, or is it more important to have a productive employee? Really, what you want is to be able to share files, so file compatibility is important, not the application used to create it.
Create a "water cooler" type environment - this one is a bit harder, and can have some interesting results, but for your virtual workplace to be productive, people need to be able to meet, chat, discuss, debate, tell jokes, laugh, etc. Just like in an office. Video conferencing helps here, but anything that encourages communications (and not all of it has to be 100% business), is great. Think of creative ways to support this communication.
OK, those are three ideas - but the basis of it all is this. Video Conferencing and Collaboration is about being more personal, not less. It's about adding faces to voice, pictures to descriptions, and keeping people connected. If you have any questions about how to do that, just give us a call, we love to talk about it.
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