June 23, 2022
Remote and hybrid work are becoming the norm at countless companies. There’s just one problem: not enough workers have the tech tools they need to succeed outside the office. As reported by TechRepublic, a recent study from O2 Business found that “less than two-thirds (65%) of employees felt confident that their organization was prepared for the future world of work.”
More than Just Software
Additionally, two out of five respondents had insufficient access to the tech tools/systems they needed to perform their jobs, the majority lacked an external keyboard or monitor, nearly a third had no company computer at all, and almost half needed better video-conferencing capabilities. On top of that, 43 percent had poor internet connectivity at home, which hampered productivity and made their organizations more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
“Different people have different needs,” the O2 report states. “If employers fail to grasp this then they risk not only a loss of previously hard-won employee engagement but a loss of good people, full stop.”
(The solution isn’t merely more tech, though, it’s also more tech training so employees can use this collaboration hardware and software in the most effective manner. It’s the horse that pulls the cart.)
Which leads us back to the cart: tech tools. Writing for Techradar.com, tech CEO Howard Moodycliffe enumerated a bevy of top tools for everything from communication and project management to productivity, team management and customer success that benefit his remote-first company and its employees. (For his specific recommendations, please see the full story.).
“When the pandemic first hit, the key factors were getting phone calls to the right people and making sure some form of chat was available for teams and management,” says John Irey, Mindsight’s VP of Consulting Services. “What we have focused on since then is that people still feel connected with their team members. From an individual standpoint, I want to know that I am working on something bigger and build those relationships with my team. From a corporate standpoint, it is important to remember that what keeps some employees engaged is connectivity to their team. Some companies that have gone full remote have even started allowing teams to expense outings to help grow the camaraderie despite not being face-to-face most of the time. Being able to then easily collaborate with the team, whether it be through chat, video, or other tools, helps to keep people from feeling isolated and keeps the ideas and teamwork flowing.”
The New Normal: Robust Collaborative Platforms
Among all available tech tools, those that improve collaboration are especially vital. As of this late-August 2021 report by Gartner, their usage had risen 44 percent since 2019.
“Collaboration tools found renewed importance during COVID-19 for their role in ensuring the productivity of suddenly-remote teams,” said Christopher Trueman, principal research analyst at Gartner. “As many organizations shift to a long-term hybrid workforce model, cloud-based, personal and team productivity technologies, along with collaboration tools, will form the core of a series of new work hubs that meet the requirements of various remote and hybrid workers.”
Remote collaboration, of course, requires clear and consistent communication. As this Forbes Technology Council article puts it, “Hybridity demands tools that bring clarity to business processes. Look for a solution that is not only usable but can be easily integrated with third-party services for more complex use cases.”
The same article recommends visual communication over audio-only in order to “boost morale and productivity by ‘keeping up appearances’ in the best possible way.’”
“Collaboration and critical thinking are the backbones of good business, but trust within teams is even more fundamental,” the article went on. “However, hybrid work models have stretched this thin. Keeping teams interacting through videoconferencing applications can be a way to compensate.”
In a related forecast, Gartner predicts that remote and hybrid work, along with “changing workforce demographics,” will cause in-person enterprise meetings to drop from 60 percent to 25 percent by 2024.
“As IT leaders prepare for a mix of meeting modalities, it will be critical that they ensure equitable collaboration, tool and resource access for all meeting participants, regardless of location,” according to Gartner’s Trueman. “Cloud-based meeting solutions and content service platforms can support this through offerings or integrations with technologies including virtual whiteboards, rich chat features, and recording and transcription capabilities.”
Tools that enhance project management are also crucial, the Forbes piece notes. Using the right applications can make people’s jobs easier, cut down on micromanaging and “confer a sense of accountability on your team.” Time management, too, can be challenging in a remote/hybrid workplace. But there are plenty of solutions out there that help with ‘tracking time, delegating tasks, sharing files and logging KPIs across remote and local office space.”
The bottom line, then, is that well-chosen tech tools can positively impact the bottom line. It’s just a matter of figuring out which ones work best. And in this case, one size definitely does not fit all.
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our highly certified engineers and process-oriented excellence have certainly been key to our success. But what really sets us apart is our straightforward and honest approach to every conversation, whether it is for an emerging business or global enterprise. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.
About The Expert
John Irey is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight, an IT Services and Consulting firm located in the Chicago area. With nearly 20 years of experience in information technology, John has helped businesses of every size optimize the technology powering the contact center. He has extensive experience with contact center technologies and seeks to provide a consultative voice to contact center leaders, who rely on Mindsight’s transparency to make the best technology investments. John earned his BA/BS in Information Systems and continues to focus on how emerging technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, impact the contact center. John enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two young children.