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Digital collaboration: the key to new business patterns and surviving recession

In a great effort to maintain business continuity and ensure staff safety, organisations made changes to the way they work, which became the biggest remote work experiment in history. Now organisations are planning for life after lockdown.

In the HR Review (June 2020) it was reported that nearly three-quarters of business leaders plan to adopt increased levels of flexible, agile, remote working permanently when the commercial world reopens fully.

The research was conducted by Dale Office Interiors, a company that designs and builds office spaces, who found that 71 per cent of managing directors, CEOs and business owners intend to make remote work a natural component of their staff working week.

80 per cent of companies reported that their staff are as productive or more productive when working remotely.

More than half (56 per cent) of the owners surveyed plan to reduce their office space, although offices are seen as vital for face-to-face meetings and social interaction.

David Bricknell, MD of Dale Office Interiors, said: “Hygiene … will obviously be top priority in the short-term [but] it’s amazing to see how far along the long-term thinking is among the leaders of British industry.”

A revolution is taking place in the way we work. Before the government enforced lockdown, many businesses had not adopted agile working practices, and preferred to persist with the traditional office-based, 9-to-5, five-day week.

Whether this persistence stemmed from a fear of change or entrenched views on costs and productivity, months of enforced working from home have provided fresh insight.

The UK workforce has been productive when working remotely, which has enabled businesses to evaluate the long-term benefits of allowing people to work where they work best, whether that be from home, in a booth in the office, at a desk, or at a local coffee shop.

Allowing people to work remotely when they and the business will benefit from it will have positive effects on everything from pollution, congestion, sickness-related absenteeism and, it is predicted, an improvement in the mental health of the nation.

So, how do you make the transition to agile work patterns?

John Newton’s July 2020 webinar on ‘Patterns of Digital Transformation’ provides many useful insights not only into how to transition to digital practises, but also into how to survive during a recession.

Citing the Harvard Business Review article ‘Companies Need to Prepare for the Next Economic Downtown’ (May 2019), Newton says that times of recession generate a necessity for digital transformation in products, services, sales and marketing. The Review suggests that less than 20% of 5,000 companies transformed effectively to remain profitable and grow.

Keys to digital success include:
1. Experimentation with digital technology in order to work faster.
2. Protecting financial fundamentals by tracking waste and how budgets are spent.

Distilled to its essence success depends on company culture and efficiency. An organisation must have the right culture to commit to digital transformation and make it work, while business process efficiency is key for the organisation, its staff, partners and customers.

Businesses that do not adapt are at risk of digital disintermediation, while those that adapt successfully generally see 10% growth as a result of streamlined business processes.

How can Carillion Communications help you with digital collaboration?

If location is no longer viewed as a key factor in staff productivity, it increases the importance of maintaining communication, staff connection, management direction and

In his document ‘Returning to the New World of Work: A Practical Guide for Business Leaders’ (published April 2020), Robert Walters reported that of 2000 businesses surveyed, the biggest challenge in relocating staff was getting the required IT hardware in place – a struggle for more than 50% of companies surveyed. This was followed by IT infrastructure and security, which was a point of concern for 33% of organisations.

Walters records that staff were able to engage from home. 54% of them noticed a positive effect on their mental health, rating the increased flexibility in working hours and not having to commute among factors contributing to their wellbeing.

However, the lack of physical interaction with team members was difficult to get used to, with 38% of professionals indicating this as having a negative impact on their mental health.

Whereas it is recommended to decentralise decision making to increase business agility, it is essential to maintain effective personal communications to maximise operational efficiency and generate understanding among teams.

Carillion Communications enables companies to optimise communications in every type of environment so that colleagues, staff, partners, suppliers and customers can engage and collaborate quickly and clearly. From intelligent home office set-ups, to huddle spaces, meeting rooms and prestige board rooms, Carillion will help you to implement the right hardware and services for your needs.

We help system users – from 2 to 100 – to hold meetings, make pre-meet and on-the-fly invitations, present clearly, and share and save content securely.

With the mechanical fundamentals in place for efficient meetings, Carillion customers are able to concentrate on core responsibilities and more creative aspects of their business.

“In the right roles and with the right people, flexibility offers tremendous productivity improvement. It gives people time to process properly, and it gets them out of the office in terms of being bogged down in day-to-day admin. So there is more thought leadership that comes to the table, and that’s where your creativity and innovation come in.” Ken Matos, Director of People Science at Culture Amp

Digital processes facilitate faster decision-making. We have seen considerable success among our customers in all industry sectors, who have become faster and more agile in both operations and customer service.

Next generation communications

All commentaries on successful digital transformation cite the importance of an agile culture and a commitment to empowering employees. Agility and empowerment depend on reliable information flow.

The ease of all set-up and quick call initiation are key. Familiar desktop performance encourages new users to try the new technology.  

12 audio-visual functions to achieve digital collaboration:

  • Access for all, with instant face to face meetings across secure, reliable connections

  • A selection of platforms and equipment for clear images and audio

  • Easy, fast, secure log-ins for multiple participants

  • Simple scheduling and invitations

  • Secure content sharing from remote locations

  • Access to workflow tools

  • Compliance: no need to copy files or take files home

  • Environmentally friendly (Green): less printing

  • Cost effective company-wide AV solutions

  • Potential to reduce office overheads

  • Significantly lower travel costs

  • Improved work-life balance for staff

AV solutions for home heroes, magician managers and connected customers

One of the areas of potential change that will be needed in the future to accommodate dispersed teams is leadership style.

In Walters survey, 64% of employees suggested that leaders should focus more on outcomes rather than time spent. For remote working to be a success, business leaders will need to shift to a results-oriented mindset and use achieved goals as the barometer for success.

At Carillion we see that organisations already recognise the need for new skills in their leadership teams: prospects and customers are seeking a better understanding of technology that facilitates remote working.

For an immersive, flexible wide-format video conferencing experience, Microsoft’s Surface Hub is ideal for executive ‘town hall’ and large team meetings. The Hub is a presenter’s dream, with an infinite whiteboard and a host of onboard Apps, yet remains the ideal device for discussion and collaboration.

The Hub is also ideal to achieve conducive meetings with customers, partners and suppliers. During times of interruption the Hub came into its own to enable schools and educators to create interactive environments with students.

Digital savings and gains

John Newton referred to efficiency as a key factor in both digital transformation and navigating a recession.

The savings and gains associated with digital technology are vast in terms of reduced travel, increased productivity, informed decision making, and agile teamwork.

A Forrester analysis of savings associated with the use of the Microsoft Surface Hub makes a compelling case across a range of factors that add up to an impressive total economic impact.


Download full Microsoft Surface Hub TEI document

The savings and gains that accrue from the Hub are comparable with other available digital technology and services. Avoiding wasteful costs represent one side of the positive impact equation, while performance enhancements such as productivity and sales improvement represent profit associated with collaborative agile behaviour.

Carillion has 20 years’ experience rolling out video conferencing (VC) solutions

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