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Driving business agility with remote collaboration tools

Author: Amy Lind

As businesses continue to adjust to new ways of working, the need for business agility is more evident than ever. Successfully navigating new working environments depends on finding the right tools to empower remote collaboration.

Businesses are experiencing a dramatic shift to remote work: A Gartner, Inc. survey of 229 HR leaders on April 2, 2020, revealed that nearly 50% of organizations reported 81% or more of their employees are working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic1, and many workers aren't keen on returning to the office anytime soon. While 30% of employees worked remotely at least part of the time before the pandemic, that same Gartner analysis reveals that post-pandemic, 41% of employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time.

The logistics of work are changing, and the way you respond could determine the future of your business. How do you find the right tools for remote collaboration that ensure you meet your business needs and deliver true agility?

Why agility matters

Business agility has always been important, but the financial and work from home challenges induced by the pandemic makes it more essential than ever before. According to McKinsey, successful agile business transformation can boost customer satisfaction, increase employee engagement and improve operational performance—and potentially deliver a 20% to 30% uptick in financial performance.

Achieving these goals means providing employees with the tools they need to do their jobs wherever they're working. However, rapid transition comes with its own challenges. According to the Harvard Business Review, those challenges can range from social isolation, distractions and interruptions, and lack of motivation to absence of in-person supervision and difficulty accessing essential information.

To face these challenges head on, the Harvard Business Review suggests providing workers with remote collaboration technologies—video conferencing or mobile-enabled messaging like Slack—that can emulate a face-to-face experience. But with so many choices on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start.

How to get there

Conduct even a cursory online search for remote collaboration tools and you'll find a wide range of capabilities, from video conferencing and document-sharing tools to cloud-based storage and unified communications solutions.

To choose the right tool for the job, you need to define your criteria. Ask yourself the following questions:

What problems are you trying to solve?

Start by focusing on the problems rather than on the solutions. It's easy to be overwhelmed by slick marketing and enthusiastic reviews, but what's good for one company isn't necessarily right for yours.

Who will use the tools?

Profile your users. Are they tech-savvy? What ad hoc solutions are employees currently working with? It might be worth asking employees about the features they value most in collaboration tools to keep them at their most productive. Beware of choosing a solution that employees will be reluctant to adopt or that might be difficult for them to use.

What is the total cost of ownership?

The cost of a product license is just the beginning of the story. Factors such as deployment costs, end-user training and additional bandwidth and IT infrastructure can add up.

Are the new tools compatible with existing systems?

Even the best products on the market won't be a good fit if integrating them with your current environment causes massive headaches. Consider whether the capabilities you're looking for would be better delivered as a unified solution. Then determine how easy it would be to slot the solution into your existing systems. Tight integration with CRM, ERP, Microsoft Office products and other enterprise tools will be key to maximizing value.

Is it secure?

Security is vital. Cybercriminals are targeting distracted employees and vulnerabilities in remote access infrastructures. Google claims it's blocking 18 million malware and phishing emails related to the COVID-19 pandemic every day. Potential security gaps on employee PCs and devices, home networks and apps represent a growing threat.

Evaluate the security credentials of any company providing collaboration software. What is its track record when it comes to protecting enterprise customers? Consider enhancing native security features with:

  • Regular user security awareness training
  • Acceptable usage policies that minimize user exposure to threats
  • New security policies for remote working, such as strong passwords and two-factor authentication
  • Proactive visibility and control of users' endpoints via remote security and monitoring

Measure the impact

Once you've made a decision and rolled out new collaboration tools to remote workers, ask for their feedback. Use it to set new KPIs to measure and track performance. But keep in mind this isn't a set-it-and-forget-it proposition—driving true business agility takes a hands-on approach and businesses should be prepared to make technical tweaks.

For the foreseeable future, remote work looks to be the new normal in nearly every industry. It's time to start planning.

To learn how Verizon can help, take a look at our range of Unified Communications and Collaboration tools.

1 Smarter With Gartner, Gartner HR Survey Reveals 41% of Employees Likely to Work Remotely at Least Some of the Time Post Coronavirus Pandemic, April 14, 2020, https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-14-gartner-hr-survey-reveals-41--of-employees-likely-to-.

Amy Lind, Manager of Product Marketing, Advanced Communications for Verizon, has more than 20 years of experience as a technology industry market intelligence professional.