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It’s been six months since we starting working from home. The connected workplace went from being a thought leadership topic about the future and the way we think about work to our daily reality, a.k.a. new normal. While some teams were already remote, for most of us, the transition to remote work is still an adjustment.

Because whether you’re balancing your work life with a new eLearning curriculum or strategically muting your dogs barking at the neighbors’ dogs (barking) while responding to your manager, you’re facing a new kind of challenge. We all are.

Half a year into a remote workplace, we’re finding a new work culture that’s sometimes uncomfortably immersive. Amidst all the uncertainty and new norms, our workday and our home life has become impossible to separate. While 2020 has come with its share of challenges, it’s  integrated our humanity in our day-to-day working habits and relationships in a way that’s powerful and unshakeable. It’s also been incredibly challenging for IT teams—everywhere.

“All eyes are on me. And I’m trying to deal with exploding online loads, people working remotely, new cyberthreats, every day it’s something new.”

Banking Chief Information Officer, McKinsey Digital

With demands and expectations for IT teams changing while more teams are working remotely, there are still ways you can bring your team members and their counterparts closer together while empowering a better working experience. 

With these best practices, we put the focus on what is your control, how you lead during the most uncertain times:

1. Make Working from Home work for everyone.

The work from home movement has introduced a fresh mix of challenges for IT teams everywhere. From difficulties with collaboration tools and video conferencing to lagging internet connectivity on home networks, the new normal is anything but. That’s why technology leaders need to act quickly to collaborate with organizational leadership on best practices for working from home instead of having each department on a separate set of collaboration technologies—both business continuity and productivity killers.

So whether you’re assessing Microsoft Teams or other alternatives, having a unified communications platform is mission-critical to building a connected remote workplace with less room for pitfalls like siloes and communication gaps.

Many IT leaders are already purchasing additional licenses and upgrading their network for increased accessibility. Many CIOs are scooping up additional licenses and upgrading networks to availability. CIOs can distribute 4G/5G modems or reimburse upgraded internet plans to upgrade ISP capacity at employee home offices.

The latest seachange in how and where we work a pushed the needle on work culture everywhere. Technology leaders can help to empower cultural change by sharing best practices for keeping team members connected and working securely and by providing employee education on the latest collaboration tools and capabilities. Whether you’re sharing why Single Sign On (SSO) matters and how to use it or reviewing the latest Microsoft Teams features to tap into, having regular updates keeps your workforce engaged and using the latest technologies for collaboration.

2. Get and stay aligned on goals.

Everyone’s day-to-day looks vastly different than it did pre-COVID. It’s a lot of change and uncertainty to take on at once, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed or complacent and fall out of communication with your team and counterparts. Don’t.

Look to your team and executives for regular updates on their goals, progress, and achievements and how you can support them. In tandem, share the goalposts you’re tackling and how they will benefit the organization. Don’t assume everyone already knows what you’re doing or leave them floating in space.

3. Re-commit to unified communications.

We covered collaboration briefly earlier, but we really want to drive this point home. Promote seamless communications across calls, video conferencing, and messenger with one unified communications platform. Your employees will be able to see if and when colleagues are available or tied up in another meeting. The right UCaaS strategy connects all the systems that power your organization to keep team members working together in real time with technologies that integrate for powerful, productive, and fluild collaboration across your remote connected workplace.

4. Fuel new ways of working.

If you’re facing challenges ensuring the adoption of new tools and protocols, you aren’t alone. With working behaviors in a constant state of flux, some professionals are still trying to navigate what can seem like an endless foray of tools without any experience using them effectively.

Because new behaviors take about a month to “fully bake,” getting technologies leveraged in the right way is a journey. While it’s important to provide clear guidance on downloading and using new tools, the new normal mandates an investment in training-for-adoption techniques.

This looks different for every organization—whether it’s repeat trainings, certifications, or advanced seminars—find ways to ensure tools aren’t just utilized but are actually helping people with better approaches to their work.

Role modeling is another way to move the needle with organizational behavior. For example, communicating through collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams with the new Together Mode to get everyone on the same page and screen.

Make turning cameras on mandatory during your weekly team meetings and empower your IT counterparts to get comfortable being in front of a camera to lead the way.

5. Take care of your workforce.

Whenever possible, provide flexible working arrangements—whether that’s flexible shifts, remote work, or preparing for absences. Recognize upfront which team members will be impacted by school closures and online learning to design backup support when it’s needed for essential workers and to make sure they are technically equipped to do their job remotely whenever possible.

If you have employees who still need to come into the physical office, keep your working environment safe with rotating shifts and separate zones (areas) for essential IT workers. Work with human resources to create transparency when testing or quarantining may be needed to keep employees healthy.

Helping your people through this crisis can make a positive impact on employee loyalty and retention post-pandemic. So, make a point of reaching out to your team members just to see how they and their families are powering through all of the recent changes and uncertainty. Being supportive and consistent can make a huge difference in providing some structure in their lives during these crazy times.

Propel your remote workplace—farther.

Let’s talk.

Our collaboration experts are here to help you get the most out of your secure, connected workplace. Learn how to support your employees with high-performance technologies that fuel face-to-face interactions and engagement.

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