Collaboration tools

As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly swept across Canada and the world, organizations were forced to shift to remote work to protect their employees and maintain business continuity. A key challenge in this process, regardless of whether organizations excelled or struggled, was providing the same pre-pandemic levels of employee communication and collaboration.

Working from home was already a growing trend prior to the pandemic, albeit more prevalent in some sectors over others. While organizations may have adopted remote work policies on their own over time, the remote shift forced organizations to examine the intersection of collaboration and employee satisfaction – oftentimes redefining what collaboration means for their organization. 

As social distancing protocols limited our in-person interactions, online and physical collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, headsets and noise cancelling headphones, became crucial to our personal and professional lives. Organizations that continue to incorporate collaboration technologies to ensure employee performance isn’t hindered will thrive. It’s equally important that all organizations continue to recognize the close relationship between employee satisfaction, performance and collaboration technology. If employees feel they have the necessary tools to perform their tasks as required regardless of where they work, their satisfaction will translate into increased productivity, efficiency and an improved customer experience.

The true value of collaboration runs deep, and a collaboration strategy should be a bottom-line consideration moving forward. In our increasingly digital world, here are some trends we’re seeing as Canadian organizations plan for the future of work:

A mass adoption of new tools and technology

Employees are increasingly asked to play the roles of parent, babysitter and teacher. While this multifaceted role will likely abate with time, having the tools available to meaningfully connect with colleagues continues to be crucial. As work from home mandates were issued across the country and globally, we saw a rapid increase in demand for hardware including headsets and cameras for video calls as well as video conferencing tools. These afforded employees a chance to see their colleagues face-to-face and make our current reality feel as normal as possible. In the near-term, while some organizations return to the office, we anticipate seeing an importance placed on cameras that can scan an entire, socially distanced meeting room of participants. Over the long-term, meeting room technology that can facilitate larger rooms linked with smaller huddle rooms may be the norm.

Roadblocks prior to the pandemic were quickly alleviated

For some organizations, providing the right solutions to afford streamlined collaboration among employees wasn’t always a priority. Before the pandemic, not all organizations realized there was more to a strong collaboration solution than headsets. Many underwent a forced review of their existing collaboration solutions to identify gaps and made it a top priority – at least for immediate needs.

As social distancing measures lift and some employees return to the office, it’s important for organizations to continue reviewing the technology and capabilities available to enable improved collaboration of their employees, regardless of where they work. Organizations are making their unique rules around returning to the office fulltime, part-time or not returning to the office at all. Regardless of where your organization fits on the scale, your employees have likely grown accustomed to using these collaboration tools and will expect your organization to continue evolving and improving them.

Work from anywhere, not work from home

It’s important for organizations to realize that remote work is here to stay. The physical office is no longer the sole productivity hub. Whether due to employee preference or the potential of an increase in COVID-19 cases, working from home will not be a trend that leaves us. Anecdotally, we have heard from our customers their employees feel more productive and are less stressed when they can work from home.

Looking ahead at the next 5-10 years, we expect employee-driven freedom of where they live and when they commute to the office, if at all, to increase. Organizations that allow for and enable the flexibility to work from wherever they choose, while also providing them with the tools to stay connected, will be successful in growing and attracting top talent.

The idea of work has shifted from being office to outcome driven. If the work is getting done correctly and in a timely manner, does it really matter where employees are located? Organizations need to recognize and accept the new reality of remote work and provide the collaboration solutions for their employees to complete their work from the comfort of wherever they choose to be.

To learn more about the collaboration solutions available to help your employees remain in contact and foster strong relationships, visit cdw.ca/digitalworkspace

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