Many IT departments are asking the same thing: what’s the best way of implementing digital collaboration in the workplace? This may make it seem like solely an IT initiative, which of course isn’t the case, as every member of the workforce, including frontline workers and head office, will be involved in its deployment.
However, it’s normally the IT department that leads the way in discussing the challenges and potential of implementing a digital workplace. The emphasis must be on removing communication barriers and improving digital collaboration in the workplace, which requires all teams to be on board to ensure its success.
How to improve collaboration in the digital workplace
1. Define the digital workplace
The digital workspace should provide an ideal digital collaboration platform for the day-to-day operation of a modern business.
At a basic level, it involves data-driven operations, with teams working together, even from different locations. Employees must have access to all the data, documents, and files that they require, through a variety of connected devices. It’s a business strategy that promotes greater employee engagement and efficiency through digital collaboration tools and knowledge sharing.
In our personal lives, we use digital collaboration and communication tools as second nature, interacting and having conversations with our family and friends in real time. Yet in the workplace, often we’re resorting to communicating with colleagues through email, instead of using the same type of digital collaboration tool that we enjoy every day outside of the office.
Sharing files and information and gathering feedback over a period of days or even weeks can be inefficient, undermining productivity and costing the company money in lost working time. Utilising a digital workspace – which has digital collaboration spaces as its core, as well as document management, project management, and business productivity tools – will be an effective antidote to these common performance issues.
2. Set your digital collaboration goals
Although the digital workplace’s scope is massive, never lose sight of the fact that its ultimate goal is relatively simple. It’s there to make workplace processes more efficient, saving time and saving money, with team collaboration at its heart. All of the processes made possible by the technology, such as sharing information, talking to each other, and easily accessing the company’s data, are aimed at streamlining the working day.
Many businesses believe that digital collaboration platforms can be enabled by simply implementing the relevant technology, telling the workforce which button to press and throwing them in at the deep end. In fact, this under-estimates the importance and challenges of achieving optimum collaboration. So, it’s important that you set realistic goals for what you want the implementation of digital collaboration in the workplace to achieve.
Perhaps your objective is to make internal communication simpler, to streamline processes, or reduce costs. If the wider workforce isn’t made aware of why digital technology is being introduced, the system can turn into a collaboration tool that is underutilised.
Regardless of the sector or size of your business, the success of your digital collaboration tools hinges on its goals being clear from the start, your staff understanding why the platform is being used, and ensuring it complements company culture.
3. Recognise the role of your internal communications team
In successfully achieving this objective, the role of an internal communications team becomes pivotal. They must clearly demonstrate why the platform is needed and how the new technology isn’t a dramatic change to working practices, but rather an extension of existing procedures to make them easier.
Your workforce needs to understand that digital collaboration in the workplace is a step forward for the organisation, and a means of progressing its culture and attaining its goals.
If internal communications aren’t successful in convincing the workforce why the technology is necessary, employees may wrongly believe it’s superfluous and that they can avoid using it.
For example, if an intranet is installed, but no-one is sure why, the attitude may prevail that there’s email available on laptops and mobile devices, so why is a digital collaboration platform needed?
It becomes vital for an internal communications team to ensure every member of staff is on board, both before the transition to a digital workspace begins, during the process, and after the new system is up and running.
4. Communicate changes early
The first days of implementing digital collaboration tools in the workplace are very important, because users’ opinions can be formed quickly and can dictate how the technology will be perceived and used in the future.
Every small problem or fault will be under scrutiny and if not properly explained and rectified, it can cause users to dismiss the system quickly. Remember that first impressions count.
It’s essential that an internal communications team works closely with your IT department to recognise teething problems, explain to employees that they’re in hand, and then resolve them as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
It’s crucial for the internal communications and tech teams to liaise from the outset. Other departments that will be directly affected, such as human resources, will also need to be involved throughout the roll-out of the new system.
Depending on the type of business, other departments may also be drawn into the early roll-out, such as PR and marketing to check that the system’s messaging and branding are suitable.
Never underestimate the need for efficient internal communications in launching digital collaboration in the workplace. It will play a pivotal role in introducing the new system and making sure all users understand why it’s being installed and how to use it to optimum effect.
After all, any new digital collaboration platform requires a behavioural change among the workforce to ensure it fulfils its goal of simplifying day-to-day tasks, and benefits employees and the company as a whole. Once individuals understand why and how the technology is being installed, they can communicate to other teams and other departments their acceptance of the system.
A proactive and efficient internal communications team can ensure digital collaboration tools can be seamlessly introduced without problems, bringing with it many benefits in the longer term.