How to provide the right technology so your employees can safely work where, when and how they want to help you grow your business.
Stay safe + Work well
While companies recognise the value of keeping their employees engaged, it isn’t always achieved. A survey carried out by professional services firm JLL in 2017 found that only half of UK workers said their workspace environment allowed them to work “completely effectively”.
One important way to keep employees engaged and productive, creating their best work, is with the right technology, and the right working culture to support that. Your employees are used to consumer technology that works without hiccups. If they have an issue, they just download a different app instead. But at work, they need to communicate and collaborate easily and seamlessly, all with the same toolkit, whether they’re in the office or working remotely – and they need devices that are designed to maximise the benefits of their technology toolsets. Otherwise, they may face unsynced or inaccessible files, siloed data, or applications that don’t work as well on mobile devices.
Technology woes like these don’t just frustrate employees. They impede their ability to collaborate, share opinions and ideas, and perform high-quality work. The result can be, for example, different people struggling with different versions of the same proposal, countless emails flying back and forth, and information that isn’t available at critical times.
In a 2017 Forrester report, when asked about the specific impact of 16 common collaboration tools, most workers surveyed cited only two – email and instant messaging – as helping them to be more effective at their jobs.2
This may be why many employees take technology into their own hands: at least one in four seek out their own mobile and cloud-based apps. But when your employees use unsanctioned tools, it makes it nearly impossible to safeguard your business’s data.
In this e-book, we’ll first of all show how important it is for you to know your data and information are secured. It’s only when you and your employees have this peace of mind that everyone will then have the freedom and confidence to tackle the problems people may be facing with their daily technology, to think big, and to work together to help your organisation achieve its ambitions.
Put your business on a solid base with always-on security
If you’re looking to build a dynamic and successful business – a business with a future – it needs to have firm foundations. And the best base on which you can do this includes robust data and device security.
Data breaches and other security incidents can affect employee engagement and performance, taking time away from productive tasks and undermining employee confidence in your business if they lose important data, files, or even access to their devices. That’s especially true when dealing with lost and stolen mobile devices. This common problem can be either a momentary inconvenience or major setback, depending on your business’s mobile device location and remote-wipe options.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable. Indeed, 43% of cyber-attacks target companies in this group.4 Why? Because many SMBs tend to be less secure than larger enterprises, and also because automation makes it easier for criminals to attack them in volume.
Steps to take
Perform a business data-security audit
This can be completed with a few common-sense questions. Where is your business data stored, and how is it backed up? How do employees currently share access to files and data? How can your business control access to sensitive data? And how does your business back up and otherwise secure data on employees’ mobile devices?
Consider your compliance obligations
Depending on the industry that you work in you will need to be compliant to industry standards. In addition the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force in May 2018. It’s the biggest shake-up in data protection legislation in over 20 years, and gives increased rights to EU-based individuals over the information you hold on them (whether your company is in the EU or not). Failure to respect those rights or to show due diligence in your data protection practices could result in substantial fines or affect your ability to do the right thing for your customers – which is why you need to be ready.
It may make sense to make someone responsible for meeting your GDPR obligations and data security in general. Many SMBs lack the time, budget and expertise to implement comprehensive security defences.
Look separately at device management
Consider how many employees have devices holding business data; how those devices are updated for new security threats; and whether any special considerations (such as regulatory compliance issues) apply to your business. As you shop for new devices for employees, look for those designed with best-in-class security in mind, and that will work well with the productivity tools you select.
Choose tools that bring employees together – no matter where they work
Most employees understand the importance of working together: according to research by Forrester, 56% believe improved collaboration benefits their customers. And in a Dimensional Research survey of 300 SMB information technology professionals, 97% said that anytime, anywhere access to data and applications makes employees more effective.
Social technologies can make a particular difference at work. Many organisations that use them see a distinct improvement in project collaboration, and users themselves agree that social technology improves collaboration across remote locations.
Steps to take
Assess your current technology
How well do your business’s technology tools and devices help your employees create, connect, and collaborate with people inside and outside your company?
Get insights into your collaboration needs
Ask your employees to discuss how they work together and which tools – whether you currently provide them or not – they like to use. Your goal should be to uncover features they consider important, but that your business isn’t delivering.
Take work/life balance seriously – and take steps to back up your commitment
Achieving equilibrium between work and home commitments is hugely important for you and your employees today, especially given the diverse demographics of the modern workforce. Indeed, work/life balance is second only to compensation when people decide whether to seek new employment.
One key to addressing work/life balance issues is to give your workers control over their schedules and tasks, allowing them to work on the go and remotely, using the devices they prefer.
It’s something to which they’re accustomed and which they even expect. Gartner reported in 2015 that employees use an average of three different devices throughout their daily routine. The study also found that a large majority of employees move routinely between devices just to complete a single task – and a recent online article published by CIO stated that 94% of millennials say collaboration is “critically important” to their work.
Steps to take
Set clear, consistent, and fairly applied policies
It’s up to you how to set policies that reflect your company’s culture for flex time, remote work, and other scheduling options. What matters most to employees is that they know the rules and see them being applied fairly.
Provide a remote-work toolset
Determine the types of technology you’ll need in order to make working remotely as effective as working in the office. This can include easily accessible document and data storage; collaboration tools, such as shared calendars and team sites; and a variety of communication tools, including email, an intranet, video conferencing, and instant messaging.
Also consider devices, whether they’re ones you can supply or ones that employees use under a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, to make sure they allow mobility without compromising security and that they perform seamlessly with the other work-related applications and tools you select.
A connected, synchronised ecosystem of apps, devices, and data can enable your team to gain access to whatever they need from anywhere in the world.
Choose solutions that promote simplicity and usability
When selecting employee collaboration and remote-work tools, you have a choice. Should you rely on a collection of single-purpose applications, or seek out an integrated set of solutions from one vendor?
In many cases, the answer comes down to one key point. Choosing multiple apps from many different vendors does little to resolve common employee complaints about coordinating schedules, finding the right people or resources to do a job, working from the same version of a document, or simply enjoying the same seamless experience across devices.
Your success depends on your employees. They need to be enabled to dream big and do their best work. An integrated solution not only meets this need but offers better long-term value, leaving you to focus on business-critical tasks instead of dealing with multiple systems.
Steps to take
Take a methodical approach to choosing your tools
Once you have your employees’ feedback on your current business technology, make a list of the capabilities and the business problems it needs to solve – rather than specific applications you need.
Seek out integrated, cloud-based solutions, and consider their benefits.
Conduct research into solutions that provide these capabilities, along with shared data and resources, so employees can enjoy a seamless experience without logging in and out of multiple apps or hunting down information in disconnected systems.
If you simplify your business processes you’ll increase employee productivity. Easy-to-manage, holistic cloud-based company settings allow you to configure features and settings all in one place. This removes complexity, with single logins for all services and devices – making working from anywhere easier.
Focus on quality of output – no matter where employees work
Modern, cloud-based productivity tools have led to a radical shift in thinking about where and when people work. That’s hardly surprising, given that 88% of employees work from two or more locations during a typical week – and 21% work from three or more locations.
Yet it’s important to assess how your business technology performs when it’s literally on the move.
Steps to take
Assess every business application in simple terms.
Offline matters just as much as online
An application should be just as functional offline as it is online.
Why does integration matter?
With just one company providing your productivity apps, you’ll have just one admin panel to manage security. With a cloud-based solution, security updates can be rolled out immediately without concern for testing patches and new software versions.
The right solution can help safeguard your company data across all devices – even employees’ personal devices.
A centralised, cloud-based management approach makes it easier to keep devices up to date with the latest security updates and feature innovations, at a pace that is right for you. So you know it’s all in hand, while your employees know they’re always working with the latest, best-in-class tools.
As your business grows and adds more apps, this can lead to more problems. Routine management tasks, such as patches, updates, and answering user questions can quickly eat up time and resources. A simplified management system removes unnecessary complexity from the equation.
Flexible, scalable pricing
With an integrated cloud solution, you have a single cost per user per month – and that cost easily scales up or down, depending on your staffing needs. No more worries about over-investing in on-premises technology that needs to be maintained, or juggling monthly invoices for multiple tools.
Does your business feel safe – so your people can think bold?
Running a successful small or medium business is a tough job. That’s why it’s so important to uncover ways to simplify your business and support your employees through technology. That way freeing up time and budget to support growth and opportunity – safe in the knowledge that you’re building on a firm foundation of data and device security.
Find out more about Microsoft 365 at www.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/microsoft-365/
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