Enabling a Collaborative Workforce Around the Globe

Daniel M. Horton, CIO, Sallyport Global | Tuesday, 10 July 2018, 08:53 IST

danielEnabling your employees to collaborate as a uni­fied workforce despite their geography is im­perative to the success of your organization. This should no longer be shelved as a second thought if you want to continue holding a com­petitive advantage in your industry. Supporting the way your company operates, your culture, and business pro­cesses should be a technology solution that enables collaborative productivity no matter what time zone your employ­ees work in.

Cloud and mobile technologies can create an environment to secure, re­trieve, and allow access to critical infor­mation regardless of location. To implement this technology, you must first have the proper infrastructure in place to support its success. Although this could present several unique challenges during improvements, they should be considered small growing pains to get to the finish line of a high-performing and effective workforce.

Organizations must provide the tools to ensure their employees can share the knowledge they possess. Em­ployees, who have access to standardized tools and resources, develop foreseeable results. This ensures all relevant infor­mation and resources can be accessed whenever needed which leads to faster and more effective decision making and easier collaboration.

The tools should enable the users to break down all geographic boundaries, which opens your company up to ex­pand its workforce and benefit from talent across the entire organization. This improves knowledge sharing and enables local SMEs to contrib­ute to projects outside of their re­gion from the comfort of their pri­mary office. This will also provide the ability to recruit talent from a greater spectrum since the best per­son for the job will not always be in your backyard.

We run a global operation pro­viding best-in-class mission support services in some of the most com­plex, hostile, and austere locations across the globe. It is imperative that we deliver innovative, low-risk, and cost-effective solutions ensuring the success of each mission. Although our employees are spread across the globe, we still function as one unit no matter what region or time zone we’re working in. Access to our environment is over a wide range of internet speeds and offering our users the same experience whether they are sitting in one of our offices, on travel, or in the comfort of their own homes. To achieve this level of collaboration, there were several ac­tions that were put in place from a technological standpoint.

First, we implemented an in­frastructure that had the flexibility, scalability, and reliability that we re­quired. To achieve this, the obvious choice was to use cloud and mobile technologies. Everything we use has a mobile interface. Keeping informa­tion available at our employee’s fin­gertips is how we can be so effective and stay in sync with one another. We have a suite of custom corporate mobile apps that enable our employ­ees to perform their job functions and collaborate anytime, anywhere. The next step in this process was to provide the company with cen­tralized access to information and communication that is delivered in an easy-to-use manner. Centraliza­tion of our resources has simplified the end-user experience as well as providing better oversight into our data footprint. The proper oversight of our data has also allowed us to standardize on deliverables. To sup­port our need for communications, a unified communication, and a collabo­ration solution was implemented, allowing us to realize the real-time interaction necessary to operate in a fast-paced atmosphere.

Out with the old, in with the new working on a dated infrastructure is costing money in lost productivity, limited capability, and end-user frustration

It was important that we could separate our end-users from being tied to a desk or even a specific de­vice. The device is now truly just a gateway to access applications and data. If the device is lost or stolen, the end-user can transition to an­other device within minutes and the old device becomes obsolete with no data trail left behind. For employees that have multiple approved devices, their profiles are also synchronized across those devices so they have the same user experience. Setups for new employees can now be done within minutes and do not need the manual intervention that was once required.

Having this kind of environment in place has allowed our IT team to work smarter and focus on adding significant value to the company and our clients. We are no longer spend­­ing our time working on the mun­dane task of hardware upkeep that was once considered a full-time job for many. This has been a welcomed transition for our IT team because it has eliminated those tasks that typi­cally required emergency after hours or holiday work.

With a workforce that is distrib­uted around the globe, identifying the right collaboration solution for your company should be a top prior­ity. The most efficient method is to provide a centralized platform that can be used to discuss projects. Inte­grate your communication platform to deliver a cohesive experience, ena­bling staff members to view and edit documents collectively in real-time. When a team is collaborating effort­lessly, they are more effective, which stimulates greater creativity and performance. “Great things in busi­ness are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” - Steve Jobs

If I had one piece of advice to provide on this topic, it would be to ensure that your infrastructure is designed on a modern platform that can support forecasted growth and required capabilities. This can sometimes be a challenge transform­ing an infrastructure that has been in place for years but it must be consid­ered a priority. Out with the old, in with the new—working on a dated infrastructure is costing money in lost productivity, limited capability, and end-user frustration. Ultimately, the goal of workplace collaboration is to increase employee engagement by nurturing open communication among all team members across the organization. When you can achieve this for your employees, they will be able to work at their full poten­tial and the company will realize a greater level of productivity, inno­vation, and knowledge sharing that will contribute to the success of the corporate mission.

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