The Internet, mobile devices and cloud technologies are allowing businesses and employees to connect more than ever before – even when out of the office. Statistics show that in 2015, over four million Britons were working from home. Over 30 per cent of those working remotely believe that their productivity has increased as a result.
With organisational employee-value proposition and a people-focused culture cited as the top employee engagement drivers, it’s not surprising that companies are adapting their work cultures to cater to the ever-changing demands of employees and the new dynamics of the workplace. Fortunately, there are new technologies that can help businesses bring some flexibility into the traditional office, promoting a people-focused culture and foster high levels of employee engagement.
As any project manager knows, communication is king. For many companies that have employees spread across the world, communication among colleagues for specific projects can be tricky. Slack aims to simplify that. Dubbing itself as team communication for the 21st century, Slack lets employees and teams communicate across open, private or direct channels with one another. Channels can be created for anything: teams, projects, topics and more. Slack also allows team members to drag and drop files, pdfs and images. Its versatility, ease of communication and flow of materials makes Slack the ultimate communication tool for teams working remotely or spread across the world.
Collaborating on projects with colleagues working remotely can be challenging, but cloud-computing services, such as Dropbox, can make it easier to collaborate on documents and projects with colleagues working remotely. Employees can access and work on documents wherever they are, with permissions to view or edit. Like Google Docs, Dropbox shows if someone’s working in the same document as you, allowing for employees to chat and collaborate to get work done.
True employee engagement isn’t simply about the work, however. Feedback is vital for employees to feel truly valued in an organisation. Employees need to feel that their performance is valued, their voices are heard and their accomplishments are recognised, which can prove challenging with flex-work and remote teams. But, new tech tools can help employees and managers request, give and receive feedback on projects and goals in real time.
Apps like Reflektive allow for team members to connect and can help teams and employees request and receive real-time feedback. Focusing on integration with employee and organisational goal alignment, both these apps track employee progress allowing for instantaneous feedback at any point in the project cycle. Impraise also allows for employees to instantly request for targeted feedback when they require it most, making it easier for offsite staff to remain engaged with their colleagues remotely.
Sometimes ideas and exchanges are more easily conveyed through images and rough notes. While working remotely or flex-work employees may find it difficult to communicate and engage with their colleagues on that level, there are apps to make it easier. Apps like Skitch from the popular note-sharing app Evernote, allows colleagues to get their points across with sketches, annotations and drawings, making mobile idea-sharing easier than ever.
There is no doubt that as workplace culture evolves and businesses allow for greater workplace flexibility, challenges are sure to arise. The beauty of the workplace lies in the culture it affords its employees. But just like open-concept offices fostered greater communication and collaboration across employees and teams, they also created new distractions and similar challenges are bound to arise with flex-work and work-from-home policies. The apps highlighted here and many other new technologies can help foster greater communication, collaboration and engagement among employees, no matter where they are.
Matt Powell writes for Broadband Genie, an independent broadband comparison and advice site.