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How to Adopt Digital Workflows in an Enterprise
Raise your hand if this sounds like someone at your current or former company:
- “Let’s just keep using dial-in numbers and PIN codes for meetings.”
- “Technology is hard to adopt across an entire company.”
- “These different UC platforms make things so confusing.”
- “I have too many UC apps on my PC; how am I supposed to pick one? I’ll just use my deskphone instead.”
I bet plenty of you were nodding about at least one (if not more) of these, as they’re all common refrains in enterprises that haven’t fully digitalized. And it’s not incorrect to say things can be confusing, especially if you haven’t done more than dip a toe into the digital waters. But here’s the thing: You can’t avoid this any longer. Being successful today requires a shift to a digital workplace — whether people are working in a physical office or, as they are today, remotely.
Every enterprise will face its own unique challenges when adopting digital workflows, but these five baseline tips will help create a strategy for going fully digital and increasing efficiency.
1. Ensure employees have the same access whether working virtually or in an office.
Many organizations have VPNs that allow employees to log in remotely, even from personal devices, but a digital workplace must go beyond that. Hint: It’s all about the cloud.
A multitude of apps and programs that formerly lived only on individual PCs, as licensed software, now are cloud-enabled, making it easy for employees to do the same things they were doing in an office from anywhere they have connectivity. Consider what Microsoft has done with its collaboration platforms. The entire framework of Microsoft Teams is SharePoint, which used to be available only as an on-premises solution. Now, SharePoint (and Teams) is a cloud solution that allows remote access and, thus, remote work.
By making its core tools available from anywhere, Microsoft has reduced the friction of transitioning to a digital workplace, because enterprises are already familiar with them. Determine what tools and applications employees need to do their jobs and create a cloud environment that mimics the in-office experience.
2. Ensure all employees have reliable access to connectivity and equipment.
Most, but not all, employees will have their own Wi-Fi access. Enterprises need to be prepared to supply hotspots to those who don’t so they can work remotely. Likewise, not everyone works off a laptop while in the office, and those who don’t must be able to get one if they need to go remote for whatever reason.
For employees who do use their own Wi-Fi, companies must consider what to do if the Wi-Fi goes down. Is it the employee’s responsibility to call their provider, or are they able to lean on IT, and to what extent? Enterprises must determine a policy for troubleshooting equipment and connectivity when employees are working from home.
3. Have a champion. In fact, have multiple champions.
Moving to a digital and/or remote workplace will create technological barriers, and while IT staff certainly has a role to play, it shouldn’t always fall to them to solve every issue. Their specialized knowledge will be critical for plenty of troubleshooting scenarios, but remote work comes with shared responsibilities: “Regular” employees with solid working knowledge of digital tools should be able to step in.
That’s “employees” plural, because having go-to people in each department will keep any one person or department from being overwhelmed. If each department designates a point person who can be a resource for a specific digital communications tool (Slack, Zoom, Teams, etc.), then people within that department can start with them and escalate to IT only if necessary.
The various “champions” for each department and each tool should meet regularly to discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t, so departments can learn from each other and everyone can be more effective.
4. Analog or digital: Pick a lane.
Adopting modern UC platforms means users are unwittingly forced into a digital workflow because of the platform itself, which makes an enterprise more successful with creating a true digital workplace.
However, if an enterprise continues to use PBX-connected deskphones, and also has Teams, and then uses a conference room system that is another platform entirely, it creates confusion. It also means many employees will stick to the analog method of doing things because it’s easier for them. If people who prefer to use their desk PBX system then must work remotely for whatever reason, they could be thrown for a loop when they must suddenly learn new platforms.
Instead, pick a user-friendly platform and have employees fully transition to it, and they will be better equipped for productive remote work when and if the time comes.
5. Last, but not least: If you’re completely new to digital platforms, don’t try to DIY.
If an enterprise is suddenly thrust into a situation where remote work is mandatory and not optional, now is not the time for experimentation and hoping for the best. Instead, turn to the experts. For example, Microsoft has a Fast Track program that can help get companies up and running on Teams to help them quickly transition to remote work; many technology companies offer similar services.
These five tips are just the start of what enterprises need to adopt to be successful with digital workplaces, but they can help get you on the right track.