Finding new ways of collaborative working that combine benefits for health, business solutions and ways of working that help reduce our negative impact on the environment has become an imperative for today’s forward-thinking organisations. More and more, businesses that pursue sustainable practices are the companies that others want to do business with, and work for. This means that through internal use of more sustainable technology solutions – and using them externally where possible – your business’s environmental achievements support your growth strategy.
Our carbon footprint is the estimated amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted as we live our daily lives. In the UK, the average personal footprint is 7.1t and to reduce this to what is considered to be a fair share of the world’s total, it must be cut to 1.2t. There’s lots we can do to achieve this but eliminating – or at least greatly reducing – air travel plays a significant part. This is because air travel overshadows every other measure we take. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the warming effect of aircraft emissions is estimated at about 1.9 times that of carbon dioxide alone, due to the other gases produced by planes. Add up all its combined affects and air travel has more than twice the warming impact of the carbon dioxide alone and each flight we take adds more to climate change than we should be contributing generally.
When the above is considered, choosing not to fly to attend face-to-face meetings but instead hold them virtually, using cloud-based collaboration and meeting technology solutions must be the most responsible way forward. For the best user-experience, look for one that is simple and intuitive to use, seamlessly integrates voice and video conferencing, online chat, tasks, content and project sharing and can be easily accessed from any device anywhere there is an internet connection. It will also be worth avoiding any that are reliant on large corporate roll outs or expensive per user all-encompassing tariffs.
This type of cloud-based collaboration tool is not only good for reducing the need for air travel. By providing a way for employees to be productive from any location, it becomes less imperative for companies to only hire staff who live within commuter distance. When staff can work perfectly well remotely, businesses can hire the best people wherever they are based. Having a remote working policy is becoming a must-have for employers. According to research conducted on behalf of Avaya by Davies Hickman Partners, 70% of UK employees say better internal collaboration between customer service, the back office and others would improve productivity and happiness at work. It’s also worth noting that in the same survey, 61% of UK employees said they get frustrated when their employer doesn’t use technology which improves productivity.
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Employers should not worry that their teams will be unable to develop important relationships if they only interact digitally. Whilst its ideal to be able to meet in person sometimes, video collaboration still enables the bonds of fellowship to be forged and allows relationships to be maintained on an ongoing basis between physical meet-ups. In most user experience, adding video to conferencing helps drive ownership and engagement to any interaction.
When it comes to communication, not everyone is the same. Where one person might thrive on the physical presence of colleagues, another might perform better with a bit of distance and formality. Providing alternative ways to communicate, such as online chat or messaging as part of an instant collaboration tool, shows support for employees who might experience anxiety or stress when asked to express themselves verbally or under visual scrutiny.
When it comes to health on a global scale, the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is an example of how, at very short notice, employees might need tools that enable them to remain productively working from home. At HSBC, an analyst in the bank’s research department tested positive for COVID-19 late on March 5th, informed the bank of his diagnosis in the morning whereupon HSBC evacuated the entire 10th floor of its London headquarters. Under these circumstances, what’s needed is a cloud-based collaboration solution that can provide an immediate way for employees to continue to be productive from any location – essentially, they need tools that are intuitive and easy-to-use because when you are suddenly told to work from home, there is no time to learn.
Although consumer tools often show how innovations can improve collaboration tools, it’s important to look for a professional solution that can be deployed instead. This is because of the dangers that arise when the business requirement is not considered. These dangers include security (from theft or interception for malicious purposes), lack of service reliability (dropped video or voice during an important presentation), and availability (it’s one thing if you can’t send your mates a funny gif but quite another if your whole virtual meeting cannot go ahead due to a bug). The important thing to remember is that unlike consumer tools, a business-grade cloud-based collaboration solution will provide a robust SLA and service support for trouble-shooting any and all issues.
When you and your team is set up with the right collaboration tool, you’ll be ready to keep calm and carry on.