How to improve team collaboration.

Jul 22, 2019

NEW WORKSPACES, NEW NEEDS

Workspaces are changing. In fact teams are changing. Gone are the days of rows and rows of desks with workers tapping away like some sort of battery farm call centre. Workers today want more freedom and dynamic workspaces. They want to break away from the traditional 9-5, which may mean working from home occasionally. However, it’s not just employees driving this change, employers are also seeing benefits. The freedom to work remotely enables employers to look further afield for talent and improve staff retention. In fact, some businesses like Automattic are getting rid of offices all together! This sounds like a utopian ideal but it does throw up new challenges such as how do teams collaborate effectively, how can managers coach/mentor and how do you maintain a high level of productivity?


THE PCM CHALLENGE

These are challenges I have had to overcome in my role as a Sales Manager at PCM UK. I manage a team of eight, which we plan to grow to 14 soon, spread over three sites. I travel across the sites wherever possible, but I do need to be always available as my team are new to sales and we often collaborate to understand client needs and potential opportunities. So, how have we overcome these challenges? Unsurprisingly, by using technology, however the trick is learning which tools to use at the correct time…


THE POWER OF DIGITAL SIGNAGE

Like many companies, we use KPIs to manage our performance and in the past, once collated these were emailed around. This meant for a brief period everyone was focused but once the email was read (or heaven forbid deleted!) the focus faded. Now we create a dashboard, which we display on our TrilbyTV powered, digital signage displays around the different offices; this helps keep our KPIs at the front of mind, enables staff to know how they are performing and creates a bit of healthy competition.


CONNECTED AUDIO

Once I have updated the digital signage, we have our morning huddle. This is a chance for each office and homeworker to join on a single call. We start with a quick catch up, who did what the previous evening, and did you see the big game? What was the last OMG moment in Love Island!! It's then on to previous day’s successes and the day’s agenda. Cisco WebEx is the perfect tool for us, we can schedule a recurring calendar invite daily and everyone is able to connect from a laptop, phone or video conferencing device. It brings us together and gets us moving in the same direction as a team. Work begins and I’m often floating between my desk and team, but as I mentioned I need to be available as much as possible. This is where Skype for Business comes into play. The app is installed on both my laptop and phone, enabling the team to find me wherever I am. Presence allows the team to see when I’m available and compatible headsets such as the Plantronic Savi 700, automatically update their status so I can see if they are on the phone.


DON'T EMAIL, CHAT!

We use the chat function to communicate simple messages, but if the conversation starts getting more complex we make a call. We try not to use email as it's not personable, its slow and does not support great collaboration. My team know that if they send me an email asking a question, they are likely to get a phone call in return!


VIDEO INCREASES ENGAGEMENT

Once a week we have a sales meeting, again using Cisco WebEx. In our sales meetings, we have two rules, everyone must contribute something and video must be on! We find video really helps people stay engaged in the meeting and engaged people contribute. If they contribute we all learn as a team, which is important as we look to develop. We have an agenda we work through and a shared workbook in OneNote enables us to have one person taking notes for all. When you share a workbook there is no need to email the notes around, any updates are shared between us all automatically. This ensures we all have the same version of the truth, which helps when we need to revisit our successes, losses and lessons learned.


COLLABORATION IS A JOURNEY NOT A DESTINATION

At PCM, I am lucky to have a number of different solutions to enable me to collaborate with my team effectively, and often it is the smallest features that make the biggest impact. It did take time and few false starts to figure out what works and what doesn’t but we now have a connected team, that works together to learn and develop, ultimately serving our primary goal of finding new customers and helping them solve their own business challenges. For us, improved collaboration is something we constantly seek. We are supported by our trusted partners, who are always looking to evolve their products to meet the needs of our changing workplace. How do you collaborate within your business and are there any lessons WE can learn from you? Get in touch with your thoughts.

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Jul 22, 2019

How to improve team collaboration.

NEW WORKSPACES, NEW NEEDS Workspaces are changing. In fact teams are changing. Gone are the days of rows and rows of desks with workers tapping away like some sort of battery farm call centre. Workers today want more freedom and dynam...

Read More