Workplace

Create a digital workplace that fosters online collaboration for remote teams

As remote work looks set to become part of the ‘new normal’ for business, enabling efficient online collaboration for everyone is a critical success factor.

11.04.2022
5 minutes 5 minutes
Table of Contents
The pandemic has accelerated the transformation of the workplace from a physical location to a digital environment or platform that can be accessed from anywhere. It’s a change that many organisations and employees are embracing wholeheartedly. A critical success factor for this new way of working is efficient online collaboration, with the right digital tools for tasks like virtual information access, document co-authoring, and electronic signature.

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the move to remote working, some organisations were already rethinking the workplace.

Flexible working policies, along with supporting collaboration tools and other software and services, meant that knowledge workers and others could work from home or other remote locations some or all of the time. And freelancers and contractors — often working remotely or even in different time zones — increasingly featured in some organisations’ project teams.

Now, both employees and employers are keen to maintain flexible and remote working as part of their post-pandemic ‘new normal’ — even as offices reopen. While according to Deloitte, 87% of organisations consider external workers as part of their workforce.¹ Organisations are also seeing new opportunities to use technology to help their frontline workers stay connected to the business. Traditionally, this has been challenging, as frontline workers are likely to be mobile, or working in locations like shops, factories or warehouses, rather than sitting in front of a computer all day.

For remote work to be truly successful, you need to create a digital workplace that enables efficient online collaboration for everyone in your organisation.

Employees enjoy working remotely, but must be able to collaborate efficiently

65% of employees would like to continue working remotely in the future; and 33% would like a hybrid work arrangement.²

Digital collaboration and communication is reported as the top challenge with remote work by European employees (38.9%).³

In 2020 and 2021, 48% of organisations globally invested in cloud-enabled tools and technologies, and 47% invested in digital collaboration tools.⁴

80% of European employers say they plan to maintain work-from-home policies post-pandemic.⁵

From a physical to a digital workplace

In the new normal, the workplace for many of us is now the digital environment shared by a team, whose members — working in various locations — have started using virtual and online collaboration tools to get their work done digitally.

For virtual teams to be productive, the digital collaboration environment needs to be as coherent as possible. But ensuring that coherence can be challenging when, for example:

  • you try to combine different software solutions from different vendors. This often complicates issue management and blurs the lines of responsibility.
  • suitable backup and recovery services are lacking. This can lead to data loss (especially when created by remote team members) and reduced productivity.
  • IT security becomes a struggle, as you look to enable real-time access for remote workers without compromising information security or opening the door to cybercriminals.
Konica Minolta research⁶ shows that setting up a suitable infrastructure for virtual and collaborative working is the top internal digital transformation challenge for organisations.

Source: Digital Transformation Survey, Konica Minolta & Keypoint Intelligence, 2021

Small wonder, then, that 30% of respondents to the same survey say they outsource support for remote collaboration, or are considering doing so.⁷

Four key aspects of an efficient digital workplace

Depending on the nature of your business, there are four key aspects to take into account when planning an efficient digital workplace and selecting virtual collaboration tools:

  • Provide secure, easy access to information for remote teams.
  • Enable real-time collaboration, communication and file sharing for virtual project teams.
  • Allow frontline workers to benefit from improved communication and process transformation.
  • Enable contracts and other documents that require approvals to be signed electronically.

1.  Ensure secure, easy access to information for remote teams

Microsoft Teams (part of Microsoft 365) is great for tasks like communication, virtual collaboration, planning and project management.

Integrating an enterprise content management solution (such as M-Files from Konica Minolta) into Microsoft Teams lets users quickly and easily retrieve documents and information from any of your repositories and business systems, without leaving the familiar Microsoft Teams interface.

2. Enable virtual teams to collaborate on document creation

Tools like M-Files or Microsoft Teams provide group members with everything they need for document co-authoring.

Virtual team members can work together on documents by sharing links to the latest version with internal and external colleagues. So collaboration no longer involves emailing drafts back and forth; and team members can bring their input without duplicating documents. Plus, you keep a full history of edits and comments.

With M-Files, you can even push documents through digital workflows for review, approval and signature.

3. Bring frontline workers on board

Frontline employees are generally closer to customers and more hands-on with critical processes than others in the business. With Microsoft 365 being easy to use on smartphones and tablets, you can help frontline workers engage more closely with the organisation and improve wider team collaboration through:

  • Improved contact and online collaboration with co-workers and managers
  • Real-time virtual access to information
  • Digitisation of previously paper-based processes

4. Enable electronic contract signature

When signatories in finance, legal, HR or other departments are working remotely, you can make the signing of contracts and other documents more efficient with an electronic signature (e-signature) solution. This helps reduce the delays, admin overhead and potential for security

breaches that may arise when documents are circulated among signatories in hard copy or scanned and shared by email.

Bear in mind that your approach to electronic signatures needs to comply with local requirements and provide the same validity as handwritten signatures.

Rethink remote work and virtual collaboration

The popularity of remote working indicates it’s here to stay as part of the new normal for business. So it pays to create an intelligent connected workplace that’s fit for the future with the right tools and technology for remote information access, virtual collaboration and electronic signature.

In this way, a business can enable virtual teams, remote workers and frontline employees to work together more productively, while streamlining formerly paper-dependent processes to improve information security and drive increased innovation.

If you’re ready to create an efficient digital workplace, look for a partner that offers a broad range of services as well as the skills to integrate and manage them as a secure, scalable platform that will underpin your remote working strategy now and over the long term.

Remote work: an integral part of the ‘new normal’ for business

The pandemic allowed employees and businesses to learn about the benefits and the challenges of remote work. Are you ready to put those learnings into practice and optimise your remote work strategy for the future?

Remote work in a vacation home
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