3 steps to communication and collaboration heaven

Technology has evolved so much over the last few decades that no one should still doubt that it can enable people to work together anytime, anywhere any place and on any device.

As employees use mobile devices more frequently for work purposes, it allows them to stay connected outside of the office, emailing, accessing networks and managing tasks on the move. So does everyone really need to be in the office all the time and at the same time?

Many companies are now turning to Unified Communications (UC) collaboration technology and tools to help them transform the way their organisation works by not only improving productivity, but also by delivering hidden benefits such as improving the sense of pride amongst the staff as well as motivation and morale. But despite this many still fall foul of getting UC right.

My 3 steps to communication and collaboration heaven guide will enable an organisation to effectively implement UC solutions ensuring everyone’s fully trained and equipped to get the very best return on your investment.

  1. It starts at the top

To transform the way a business operates requires an element of cultural change that comes from the top down. One of the key reasons for the lack of UC adoption comes from poor leadership from many of the people who head up UK businesses. Many company leaders continue to fight against new ways of working, happily burying their heads in the sand – taking the “if I can’t see ‘em working, they can’t be working approach.”

But its management who need to set an example and embrace UC as part of everyday business practice. They have to have a real desire to use technology, train employees on it and then trust them to get on with the job. In my experience, the embracement of the technology is dependent on management endorsement and usage.

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Presence is a good tool to start this process. Managers can see who’s available and then use Instant Messaging to communicate with their people, rather than email. Presence also provides a brilliant management tool to see who is “in the business” irrespective of whether they are in an office or working remotely.

Replacing management meetings by getting groups of people together via audio and web conferencing can be done ad hoc or scheduled without the need for anyone to travel, this sends a really strong message to the rank and file. It’s all about utilising the array of unified communication solutions that are already available, and in the right way. Most of these – presence, instant messaging, screen-sharing and interactive whiteboarding – have been around for some years and can easily replicate face-to-face communications.

  1. Identify the shapers in your organisation and get them on board

Key opinion formers and role models throughout the organisation need to be won over and used as shining examples in terms of how this transforms the way they work. Identify these people, get them on board and ensure they’re evangelical about how they can now operate and be far more effective in the organisation.

Once their peers see this, natural inquisitiveness will take over and they will want to know what they are missing. They too then become evangelists and the whole process spreads like a bushfire through the company.

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Without this endorsement the transformation will take place in pockets here and there and slowly uptake will drop off. It’s only when the entire organisation is using it will the benefits truly be enjoyed.

  1. Choose a vendor who’ll ensure effective roll out, user adoption and training post sale

Successful adoption requires support and training post sale from the vendor or service provider. It’s really important that when choosing a supplier of these type of services, you ensure that they don’t leave you to complete the roll out on your own. In too many cases it is left to the customer to work out how to use the services for themselves. This results in underutilisation and poorly trained users who can spread a negative word around the business.

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A good responsible vendor will hand hold you throughout the roll out process, running online and face to face training sessions with all the users. They will also have a focused project management approach to ensuring all the correct documentation, user guides and communication alerts are in place at each stage.

In short

If Unified Communications collaboration technology offers the possibility of improving workplace productivity and employee happiness, then isn’t it time that management got on-board?

2016 is the time to embrace change in the way we do business now and in the future. Be part of it!

Patrick Jocelyn, CMO, MeetingZone

Photo credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock