Workforce collaboration has changed. We aren't going back to conference rooms full of people, and that's a good thing. When you are recalibrating your technology plan enabling cloud collaboration should be a part of it. This is more than video conferencing and screen sharing. Cloud collaboration is the ability to access information and collaborate in an ad-hoc, yet persistent way. Collaboration in the office place wasn't "scheduled" it just happened organically. The right cloud collaboration strategy should allow this to happen in your digital "office" as well.
Here are the three steps to effective cloud collaboration:
Make sure your data is easily accessible
Mobile information access and the ability to share (in real-time) is key to fostering collaboration in the digital workplace. Nothing is worse than having to log in to the VPN, pull down the file, discuss it via the phone, and THEN decide on who needs to save the changes.
Microsoft now provides free tools to assist with migration from file shares into the cloud. SharePoint has become the central storage place for all your documents and data. Once your data is here you can easily utilize OneDrive, Office Online, and Teams to share and collaborate with others both inside and outside your organization. Until your data is "freed" from on-premise servers and cloud-native you will not have true collaboration capabilities.
Make your collaboration platform mobile first
Fostering ad-hoc collaboration requires a mobile-first approach. By the time a user logs into their laptop and then fires up the VPN the thought is likely gone. Your collaboration platform should be as easy to use as sending a text message. There should not be a difference between collaboration on your mobile device or workstation. It should support the ability to easily share data and then start an ad-hoc discussion around it.
Microsoft Teams provides this experience in a seamless way. It's integration of SharePoint, video conferencing, and messaging makes it the ideal hub for your cloud collaboration strategy. Combined with Office Online you can actually collaboration in real-time directly from your documents without ever leaving the Teams app!
Provide guidance for your users on how to collaborate
Users are like water going down a hill, they will find the path of least resistance and go that way. If the collaboration platforms implemented within your workplace are not easy to use, they will find something else. The explosion of Zoom for video conferencing is mostly due to the ease of use, not that users didn't have access to other video conferencing capabilities before!
Make an effort to outline for your users the capabilities your organization is investing in, and guidance on how they should be utilized as you transition to the hybrid work model. When should a user utilize a Teams Channel message versus an email? Where should data be stored? What is the best use of ad-hoc messaging versus scheduled meetings? These guidelines will be slightly different for each organization, and it is important for leadership to communicate their expectations on usage.
The transition to hybrid work is here. When recalibrating your technology plan be sure to include planning for what your cloud collaboration strategy will be!