For years, experts have been saying that telecommuting—otherwise known as working from home—would be the “wave of the future.” However, few predicted the wave would rapidly crash into the real world so quickly to become the “new normal.”
A recent study showed about 20% of people said they worked from home prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. As of late 2021, 71% of workers were reportedly working from home. Another 54% said they would prefer to continue to work remotely after the pandemic recedes to an endemic. For most companies, this paradigm shift represents a challenge in terms of building a new tech infrastructure that evenly facilitates at least three modes of work—in-office, hybrid, and remote.
Of key importance is the role of information management platforms that leverage a new-normal sense of collaboration and communication—especially in companies with workers spread across far-flung nations and time zones. Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” But, to do “great things,” an organization requires “greater” communication and collaboration tools.
Facing the “anywhere/anytime” challenge
As American workers continue to spread out into remote teams, the importance and value of project collaboration can’t be overstated. Knowledge workers must be able to work together anywhere, anytime, and from virtually any device. A 2021 Gartner study estimated nearly 80% of workers used collaboration tools—an increase of more than 40% since Q1, 2020.
Along with this shift came new and daunting challenges. For example, workers reported being unable to access key documents due to a lack of collaborative, accessible document management systems. Not only were workers scattered, so were their documents and data. Or worse, workers were using the wrong versions of documents that could often be lost in a swamp of email attachments.
Addressing collaboration frustration
So, how do forward-facing companies address these challenges and get the best out of their remote and in-office workers? The answer begins with a superior information management platform.
Workers must be empowered to share information easily and securely, as well as to work together more productively. They can’t do that if crucial information is still trapped in data silos or sitting on a hard drive in an office somewhere.
The good news? Document management solutions like M-Files face and defeats new-normal challenges for remote workers. No matter where or what your team focuses their resources and time, all crucial data is stored in one centralized repository, so everyone has access to exactly what they need. The result? Improved communication with clients and each other.
Keeping clients in the know
The digital-first experience has long presented an opportunity for organizations to create more personalized client experiences. For example, if a client needs a document, your team must have a streamlined system in place to make retrieval simple and secure. Solutions like M-Files mitigate issues in these areas by making content available internally and externally—but only to those who need access. Advances like these are ultimately why collaboration has continued to rise over the previous two years, despite the massive disruption brought on by COVID-19. When you give people the resources they need to perform at their best, they will.
“Cloud, collaboration, and connectivity: How can seamless communication be delivered?“, M-Files CEO Antti Nivala took on some of the toughest issues facing businesses in our time of digital transformation.
For many, the new ways of working are freeing, but there are unanswered questions: How do businesses communicate seamlessly in a work-from-anywhere world? What does a good office environment look like in the cloud era? How can you empower your employees when they’re working in drastically different time zones?
According to Antti, getting employees on the same page is about more than just sending them a laptop. “Even in places where the technological gaps have been filled, there needs to be a cultural change,” he said. “Now that many people, especially those at knowledge work companies are independently working at a time and place of their choosing, we have to make information available in a self-serve, on-demand way.”
Collaboration off the clock
The best workplace for your business may not be a physical place at all. You may not even work at the same time. “When we free people from the limits or restrictions of a place, they also begin making choices of when they work. Synchronous ways of communication and collaboration don’t necessarily work anymore,” Antti said. “We have to accept new ways of asynchronous collaboration and work together differently than when we were all gathering together in a meeting room.”
One way that companies can get more done in an “always-on” world is by unlocking information and empowering their employees to access it when they need it.
“Maybe it’s a cultural thing that companies, managers, and leaders tend to keep information to themselves,” Antti said. “Unless there is a very specific confidentiality reason why it shouldn’t be, I’m an advocate of the thinking that most of the information should be available and accessible, from a technical and access rights point of view to pretty much every employee in the company.”
Another way to optimize processes and make your business more dynamic is to provide access to learning possibilities. “For us as leaders, it’s about enabling and empowering employees to be successful.” According to Antti, “our role is to provide ways for them to develop their skills.”
During the panel, Antti explained that existing platforms like LinkedIn Learning offer a lot of value to your employees’ skill set. However, you know your business best. Beyond creating comprehensive onboarding processes and information libraries, companies should offer their team members in-house learning and self-development courses that can be taken when and where they want.
“If you can provide extensive learning and self-development opportunities, I think you are doing a great job in enabling your employees to not only do what you hired them to do but to elevate themselves to the next level.”
A key component of most successful organizations is truly seamless collaboration. Oftentimes, there is a tendency to think about collaboration with an internal focus – is everyone at my company able to collaborate? While that is certainly an important part of the equation, of equal or greater importance is the ability for companies to effectively collaborate with their customers and clients. Within the bounds of a single organization, it is possible to deploy a standard set of tools and processes that help aid in fostering a collaborative environment that is efficient, secure, and controlled. Outside those “walls”? Well, that’s another story. A confusing mix of email attachments, various file sync and share solutions, SharePoint repositories, and collaboration apps like Teams and Slack can create more complications than valuable connections. Relying on a hodgepodge mix of point solutions to share files, manage electronic signatures, or review project documents limit productivity and can increase business risk. Things can be simpler, intuitive, and more secure.
M-Files’ mission is to profoundly improve how companies do business in the digital, work-from-anywhere world. We feel like we’ve made great strides to meet that mission head-on and integrating Hubshare into our product portfolio is a key component of fully realizing our mission. Getting the right documents and information to the right people, when they need it, no matter where they are. With Hubshare, we are expanding that reach to include external parties and clients.
Hubshare offers a secure digital workplace portal that enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file sharing, and project management. Businesses can quickly and easily customize each portal to their client or project needs and provide users and external parties access to documents, processes, people, discussions, and more.
The environment for Professional Services and client-facing companies is fraught with challenges. Meeting and exceeding client expectations in an ever-evolving business landscape while ensuring workforce productivity is no small feat. Over the last year, we’ve all learned how important is to remain flexible and agile. The good news is that there are powerful solutions that can help your organization and your clients’ businesses thrive, no matter what lies ahead.
Contact us to learn more about how M-Files and Hubshare can strengthen your external content sharing capabilities and help you deliver best-in-class digital client experiences.