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Productivity and collaboration in the Modern Workplace

The notion of a modern workplace means different things to different people, depending on your background, experience or even your age. In reality, the modern workplace is an ever-evolving entity with distributed teams, new business models and increasingly complex security issues.

Advances in technology have made it easier than ever for teams or entire departments to collaborate on projects. So much so that – according to the Harvard Business Review – collaborative activities have increased by 50%. Collaboration is good, and is is particularly crucial for SMBs. Collaboration ensures that the melting pot is rich with ideas, leading to better outcomes.

However, the same review also indicated that this has increased employee time spent collaborating (which includes, meetings, phone calls and responding to emails) at around 80% of their working week. These findings suggest that we only spend one day in five actually attending to the core duties of our jobs. If true, it’s little wonder there are days (or weeks) when we feel like we have achieved very little. Because we haven’t.

Thankfully, tools exist to redress the balance in order to maintain the spirit of collaboration while driving productivity.

 

Streamline and simplify

Sometimes meetings are necessary; there is no substitute for getting a team of people in a room and thrashing out ideas.

However, those meetings that are little more than information sharing don’t need to be meetings at all. There is a cost to the business every time people gather to share information with no obvious output; more so if you have asked people to travel to be there.

SharePoint provides an intelligent intranet solution that allows your organisation to produce an in-house tool that supplants other communication methods, and eliminates the need for costly third-party software that costs the business thousands every year.

SharePoint allows you to communicate useful or important information business-wide without taking people away from their jobs. After all, the more people in the meeting, the more expensive it becomes because everyone still gets paid, whether they’re at their desks or not. This means that for an SMB, the use of SharePoint can be a real cost-saving exercise.

However, communicating information is just a small part of what the tool can do. For example, using SharePoint as a framework you can develop a portal to manage everything and anything – from time sheets to tracking holiday and sickness – all of which can be accessible via an app. This can replace expensive third-party time keeping and HR platforms and brings all your organisation’s sensitive information within your virtual walled garden.

By making it easier for your teams to consume company information, log time, holiday or sickness, via a single portal it increases productivity while lowering operating costs.

Refine communication and sharing

The primary modes of ”modern” communication haven’t changed all that much in the last few decades. Telephone and email are still the most common forms, with the average office worker receiving 121 emails a day! But how many of those emails actually needed to be sent? Did the absence of an alternative technology make it the easiest way to share an attachment or get a question answered?

Migrating to Microsoft Teams gives you the luxury of being able to chat with anyone in the organisation over text, voice call or video call. You can share links and documents, and can even create specific groups in order to share files and information with the relevant team.

The platform can replace a traditional server, allowing you to store files in a similar structure the kind you would find on your computer.

Access to documents can be throttled depending on team or level of access, so sensitive information can be safeguarded. Similarly, if HR don’t need access to Sales and Marketing documents (and vice versa), don’t give them access!

Microsoft Teams allows you to create groups so teams  – especially those based remotely – can keep in touch and share ideas. With a few clicks, you can also initiate a team wide video call for those all-important “keep in touch” meetings. There is even an option to move your entire telephony system to Teams, eliminating the need for handsets, third party software and – occasionally – hardware.

This gives Sales and Customer Service teams an incredible amount of freedom. By using Teams and a compatible headset, they can do their job anywhere. They are no longer shackled to (or only reachable at) their desks. And if your Sales teams work remotely, they can leverage Teams for their sales calls rather than relying on a company mobile, cutting operating costs considerably. 

Data sharing and security

Businesses are finally waking up to the need for robust security measures that can handle internal threats just as readily as external ones. Let’s not forget the considerable fines that breaches can bring; something which could be crippling for an SMB.

Leveraging Power Apps to develop a tool to funnel data into the right places is one thing. But protecting company documentation from inappropriate use or unauthorised distribution is quite another, as well as being vitally important to your modern workplace. Nothing cripples productivity faster than a data breach, whether it’s the wrong document being sent to a third party in error or something more sinister.

This goes beyond making sure documents can’t be copied or printed when they shouldn’t be. You need to prevent documents from being accessed if they are forwarded to a third party, or even by someone who holds copies but has since left the business.

Using Azure Information Protection gives you true control over your business’ documentation rather than just password-protected PDFs. You can put meaningful rules and permissions in place that simultaneously allow authorised personnel to view and work on documents while protecting your intellectual property.

In the past, any individual could access company files via a VPN with little to no oversight. Although most employees act in an ethical manner, some didn’t and documents were accidentally leaked or illegally obtained by competitors. Considering half of all data breaches are the result of human error, securing your documentation against an innocent mistake isn’t just sensible – it’s essential.

Equally, this isn’t a question of trust. These measures protect everyone in the organisation as much as it does the organisation itself. By monitoring and controlling how documents are used, your workforce can operate anywhere in the world while you can be confident that company assets and documents are being used responsibly.

JESSICA PATTISON

HEAD OF SMB

Jess has a wealth of experience in working with customers on their Cloud journey, driving effective change and modernising workplaces through the use of Cloud technology. Prior to joining Transparity, Jess had over 13 years' experience as a Senior Account Manager , with responsibility for some of the company’s biggest accounts. Jess’ key strengths include strategy, change management and user adoption, process improvement, and bringing together multi-disciplined teams.