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The modern workplace: Technology enabling collaboration

The workplace has radically changed in recent years. Now, the idea of having to physically be in an office is fast becoming outdated. With advances in technology, connectivity and communications, it’s now possible to have a globally dispersed workforce operating in different time zones and geographies.

As we adopt more virtual ways of working, how can organisations ensure that employees are collaborating and working as part of a team?

Despite all the exciting breakthroughs and advances in technology, a lack of collaboration continues to plague many businesses. It’s holding UK businesses back: 86 per cent of executives cite a lack of collaboration, or ineffective communication, as being to blame for failures in the workplace, according to recent research.

What’s holding businesses back?

The modern workplace should enable effective information collaboration amongst employees, partners and customers. However the bigger the organisation, the larger the risk of teams working in fractured silos, operating in isolation from the rest of the business. This creates workflow inefficiencies, and staff duplicating and wasting efforts throughout the business.

Information and data are the lifeblood of a business. If not available, and shared freely, then organisations will struggle to build and nurture a collaborative, team-based environment. With security breaches hitting the headlines on almost a weekly basis, it’s understandable why so many businesses continue to hold back from sharing sensitive information – both internally and externally.

A disjointed experience across devices also doesn’t help. Whether it’s a mobile, laptop, or PC, if the experience isn’t seamless, it holds employees back from collaborating on the go.

As consumer technology continues to permeate the workplace, employees expect to engage in new and higher levels of collaboration and information sharing in the workplace. It’s this level of engagement that organisations should look to offer.

No collaboration, big problems

Organisations that ignore the opportunity to build a collaborative team will struggle in many ways. A business that operates in silos will experience unnecessary costs, in addition to limited staff motivation. This leads to a lack of innovation and the real risk of falling behind competitors.

So what can businesses do?

Encourage collaboration, drive success

The benefits of a tightly knit team cannot be underestimated. It’s not just a question of increased efficiency; instead it can be a real game-changer for a business. The technology is now available that makes teamwork easy. An optimised managed services, which encompasses three key areas, can give a broad view of the business and helps to build a truly collaborative environment.

Firstly, information should be captured at the point of origin through advanced multi-function printers, scanners or mobile devices. For example, paper invoices or expense receipts can be scanned and routed directly to an accounts application.

Secondly (and once information has entered the business), there needs to be a way of managing documents and information. Technologies like Cloud Portals give all employees the ability to access, share and collaborate on content – while maintaining high levels of control, privacy and protection. However greater collaboration can also be achieved through more effective visual collaboration. Interactive meeting rooms, which employ interactive format screens, allow information to be shared, viewed and annotated on the screen. The experience can also be extended to employees’ fingertips with tablets and mobile devices, which allow users to write, draw and edit while on the move.

Thirdly, there needs to be a way of sharing documents and information. With advances in customer communication management solutions, content can now be created and distributed by an organisation in multiple formats. This ensures customers and employees receive personalised content to their channel of choice – be it mobile, email, or even paper formats.

Building the right team isn’t easy, however it’s even harder when there’s no communication or understanding between people. With recent advances in technology, there’s no reason why any business can’t nurture a truly successful, winning team.

Alex Cardnell, Director, Corporate Division at Sharp Business Systems