The Five Steps to Implementing a Culture of Virtual Collaboration in your Business
By Shelley Fletcher-Bryant, Director of Sales and Client Management
A change in culture is not the sole responsibility of one department. Yes, there will be a lead, but in order to fully implement your virtual collaboration solution and drive adoption, you need to engage with multiple business units and stakeholders, all of which will play an important role in setting the strategy, defining KPIs and managing implementation.
It’s important to make it easy. Make sure you’re selecting intuitive tools and employees know how to access and use them. Any unnecessary complexity builds friction and will push people back to their default setting of meeting in person. When virtual solutions fail it is often due to an overcomplicated solution which has been poorly implemented and not well communicated.
People want things to be simple. More and more people are using virtual tools to stay connected in their personal lives and these tools are intuitive, simple and quick. Try and remember the last time you read a user guide or a ‘how-to’ on how to make a FaceTime call. It doesn’t happen. As people are more open to adopting technology to stay connected, you are dealing with consumer expectations in the workplace. If your tools are clunky, ineffective and complicated, you will lose user buy-in and adoption.
Most importantly, you need to make it easy for employees to understand when they should take a trip versus use a virtual solution. By creating decision trees, flow charts and infographics you provide the information they need in a simple, easy to digest format. This can help them identify whether to travel or which type of virtual solution to use if you have implemented different options based on meeting type. Engaging communication is key to driving adoption.
To change your culture and start the journey in implementing your virtual collaboration solution, start with this simple five-step process.
Measure the baseline
Understand the state of collaboration and travel at your organization today
- Is there too much internal travel?
- Not enough budget to travel to clients?
- Current collaboration tools underutilized?
- Employee satisfaction challenges?
Be clear on your baseline and what is important you and your stakeholders.
Create the strategy
Set your goals. Work with your stakeholders across other departments to align on what the business goals are and how this initiative can drive change.
Goals will vary by business, but reoccurring themes we see with the clients we work with are:
- Reduce internal travel and trips of one day or less
- Reduce travel spend
- Reduce CO2 emissions
- Improve employee work/life balance and satisfaction
Don’t set too many goals. Be realistic on what you want to achieve and over what timeframe. Be sure to set measurable targets and use the SMART goal setting method:
From this, you can define your strategy, from implementation through to adoption.
Gain leadership commitment
This step is key. You’re not just talking about implementing new technology, you’re talking about changing the organization’s collaboration and travel culture. You’ll need leaders’ commitment to change themselves.
Building a case for executive buy-in can be challenging, especially when executives can be some of the biggest advocates for traveling for face to face meetings. That’s why it’s important to focus on the core benefits of redefining your approach and culture.
By focusing on your SMART goals, employee wellbeing, duty of care and tangible business impact, aligned to the overarching company goals and supported by cross-department stakeholders, you can show you have a robust and realistic plan that can bring far-reaching impact
Make it easy to stay
Once you start the journey it’s critical to do more than just implement the technology. Make sure you use marketing and engagement tactics, so employees understand expectations and new capabilities. Provide engaging training if required, like ‘how-to’ videos and infographics. Be sure employees know whether they should “stay or go” through the use of decision trees and flowcharts.
Execute the strategy
Finally, think about the full process from a user perspective. How difficult it is to organize a video conference or virtual meeting or event in your organization? What steps do people need to take? Is it obvious? Always consider if and how it is possible to make it easier than booking a trip.
As you implement, keep simplicity at the heart of what you do. Build this simple process and create your step by step guide.
Check out this case study to see how one client transformed their approach to virtual collaboration in less than four months and:
- Reduced travel costs by an estimated $3.7 million
- Avoided over 2,500 flights
- Boosted productivity by redirecting over 8,800 hours of employee travel time
- Cut carbon emissions by 4M KG YOY
An effective virtual collaboration solution can have a massive impact on your business and now is the best time to consider your options and maximize the opportunity presented by the current situation.