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Years ago when I worked for McAfee we were in the midst of finalising a joint partnership with another software company. As part of the final steps to complete the deal, myself and a few of my colleagues flew to their headquarters for some meetings to finalise the terms and discuss the strategic elements of the deal.
Before the meetings began our counterpart gave us a tour of the office complex and the two buildings on their campus. He explained to us that the building where we would hold our meetings was for operations, HR, marketing, and sales. The other building was for product management, product development, and engineering. When we entered the second building – the one for the “product guys” as we were told – I noticed that all of the office furniture was on wheels. The desks, the portable filing cabinets, chairs, whiteboards, etc. all on wheels. I was so intrigued by this I asked my colleague about it. He told us, “We have a culture of collaboration. So each time a project is complete or a product is launched, our people may be assigned to a new team and it makes it easier for them to move and dig in.” An interesting approach and one that embodied their collaboration culture.
My trip to visit our partner’s headquarters complex was nearly twenty years ago, yet the desire to drive collaboration in business is not something that has changed in most organisations. However, the difference between then and now is fostering collaboration in the workforce with an ever-increasing remote workforce.
According to an article by Small Business UK, 2020 is the year that half of the UK’s workforce will be remote, and this study was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic. Additional studies from across the globe continue to show the trend of remote work increasing, while some companies are making the decision to move to a fully distributed workforce as a means of reducing costs.
This change, coupled with the need to have a collaborative workforce, is why video will quickly become a vital solution for any business. In fact, I believe that a company that does not deploy a video conferencing solution as a means of facilitating collaboration will find themselves hard-pressed to have it and quickly find themselves at a deficit.
If you disagree with the above statement, consider this article from Forbes, which clearly shows employees and companies perform at a higher level when there is collaboration.
However, video should not just be deployed across the business for the employees to figure out on their own. To ensure that you get the value from the investment in video, I suggest a few things to consider.
Make it a Priority
During the years I ran my agency, I repeatedly told our employees that our biggest failing as a team would be when one of us decided to go it alone and did not ask for help. I learned this the hard way as early on I mistakenly believed that being entrepreneurial was forging ahead and making things happen.
While there is value in finding employees that are dedicated to getting things done, this must be done within a collaborative culture. While video can enable that collaboration, it will not create it on it’s own so the first step is creating, sustaining, and rewarding a collaborative culture.
Invest in Training
It is easy to think that everyone knows how to use video and make the most of this powerful solution. This would be a mistake. I have been on enough video conferences to know that many professionals need training to get the most from video conferencing.
Before you just roll out video across your organisation be sure to offer training on how to best utilise video and what tools are available within your video conferencing platform. Doing so will get teams more comfortable in using it and deliver better results.
Invest in Complementary Tools
If you want to get the most from your investment in video, think about enabling your team with complementary collaboration tools which will improve their productivity. Consider adding an instant message solution such as Glip which also allows users to share files and also make calls when needed. Equipping users with a screen capture technology is also an option so they can save what they are working on with their team members.
As you look at the various options, be sure to elicit the feedback from your employees as to what they may need as it will reinforce collaboration.
Building a culture of collaboration goes beyond using video to just work on projects and various tasks. Use video as often as possible for all-hands meetings, virtual happy hours, and team check-ins. This will ensure employees get more comfortable with this technology and they too will make it part of their everyday work routine.
There is no doubt that video conferencing is a powerful tool that every company should deploy across their business. Doing so with a thoughtful approach will not only improve the management of a remote workforce, but will also go a long way to fostering a spirit of collaboration.