10 Strategies for IT Directors as Employees Return to the Office

We have been living with the pandemic for over half a year. Many companies are beginning to consider what the new normal will mean. And how to support employees through adapting to it. Is your organization ready to bring employees back into the office? If the leadership is, how about the employees themselves?  Do you have the proper tools, training, and processes in place to make the transition from remote work to office work a smooth one? Here are strategies for the IT Director to mitigate chaos.

Getting people back into the office requires resilience, adaptability, and reinvention. If your IT department is like most these days, you’re already stretched pretty thin. There’s only more work to come, though, because much of what makes coming back into the office possible falls on the IT function. Technology is what enabled everyone to work from home in the first place. Furthermore technology is what will streamline these same people returning to their jobs onsite. 

Just like any IT project you undertake, it’s critical to have a well-developed plan in place. Work with all key stakeholders from the outset and consider implications across process, budget, bandwidth, staffing, etc. Of course, don’t forget the people component. If the “people” aspect of your plan doesn’t work, you don’t really have a plan. If you’re focused too much on the technology implications, you’ll face headaches down the road. Of course, safety should be your number one priority right now. Here are 10 tactics that will help IT Directors balance safety needs, employee comfort, and business goals as we all think about returning to the office. 

motivating your team

Seduce” people back into the office.

Not everyone likes working from home, but some people really enjoy it. There are definitely folks who have been happier working from home. Benefitting from giving up their morning commute or wearing a suit each day. On the other hand, what are individuals missing? Work with your company leadership to determine what makes your office space and culture special. From there you can maximize those benefits as people think about coming back in.

According to Coen van Oostrom, CEO of real estate developer Edge, businesses should be prepared to highlight upgrades they’ve made during these tumultuous last months. Employees will be looking for safety technology such as air quality sensors. While some companies have made the decision to reduce office space, they should make the space they do invest in more innovative. Consider higher end conferencing systems, digital signage, and more modern hardware. Anything that makes the office feel more “exclusive” will help persuade people to spend more time there. 

Use data to drive strategies for IT.

The IT department can play a valuable role in “re-boarding” employees. They can be key players by suggesting to firm leaders who is ready to come back, and in what stages. Leverage data to understand high risk areas and the rates of Covid infections across regions where employees live. Pull a list of employees across counties. Are some at lower risk than others? Another factor to consider is software and hardware. Who is best enabled to keep working at home, and who has been struggling to be productive?

Put together a phased approach to getting the people who need access to the office-central systems back in first. You likely also have data on how much people are using the phone/intranet vs. other tools. Who is set up well to keep doing a great job at home? IT Directors also have a good pulse on what tools are available in the office and how they’re best utilized. Data-driven decisions tend to be better decisions, so use the reporting you have available to help determine a phased approach to increasing productivity. 

Data to reopen decision

Assemble support teams.

As you reopen the office, there will be adjustments and challenges. Make sure you have the proper staff in place to help with these hurdles. Remember that people will be re-learning certain technologies, acclimating to new policies, and possibly working in new programs and with a mix of virtual and in-person staff. Make sure that your IT team is prepared to assist with all of this. Do you have enough staff to answer questions, and are they fully competent on all technologies and processes? Is their schedule set up to accommodate people across time zones, and are they accessible to virtual teams? Having support ready for staff is a critical function of the IT department as companies return to their office. 

Reskill workers.

Chances are, some things are going to be different than they were before. Workers need to adapt to changing requirements and possibly new tools and ways of working. Along with ensuring proper support as we mentioned above, host training or seminars dedicated to helping people re-learn any technology they may not have used in a while. If you’re using new systems or processes, create a manual and make sure it’s accessible. Basically, you need to be part of onboarding employees all over again. 

Gently encourage employees to consider the alternative.

Some startling research suggests that less than 22% of employees feel positively about returning to their office. Between anxiety about the virus and the desire for continued flexibility, you can see why employees may be hesitant to return to in-person work. On the other hand, staff should understand on some level that if they are able to work 100% from home, with no personal interaction whatsoever, then in the next decade there’s a good chance their job will become obsolete.

You don’t want to threaten or frighten employees, but there needs to be a general acknowledgement that with today’s rapidly expanding AI capabilities, people should focus on some of the softer skills and interpersonal connections that make them uniquely suited to their job. Otherwise, it might make financial sense for companies to simply outsource or automate whatever function that employee performs. Consider ways to build culture, enhance collaboration, and focus on two-way internal communications to create more of a community and sense of well-being among staff. 

Think of technology as safety.

IT is the main reason that so many people were able to work remotely in the first place. However, technology can also be one of the main factors that make workers feel safe upon their return.  IT can play a critical role in returning to work, by communicating safety information to employees. Remember that the company’s number one priority is providing a safe work environment. Employees expect that the organization has put measures in place, is monitoring those protocols, and is reporting any key information to staff. That fact should be first and foremost in any decision making that happens as you implement a return-to-office plan. Otherwise, you might face a decline in employee retention or spend money on a tech stack that doesn’t translate to employee satisfaction or productivity.

meeting room for safety

Connect meeting rooms to virtual workspaces.

The fact is that most companies will not be doing all or nothing when it comes to working in person. Indeed, some research shared by Forbes suggests that a hybrid model (specifically 3 days in office and 2 at home) is the most likely to be adopted moving forward. Adapting to this new structure means that the way workspace is used will permanently change. Specifically, most meeting rooms aren’t currently set up to accommodate Zoom meetings (or other virtual conferencing) – but they need to be.

Plan for employees to use conference rooms and common areas differently than they did in the past. Instead of large conference rooms with lots of people, you need to plan for more collaborative areas where there might be less bodies in the room, but more people joining through technology. It’s key that technology is at the forefront of this strategy or a hybrid model of working will prove troublesome for your business. Meeting rooms need to work with multiple platforms like Microsoft Teams, etc. Additionally, staff needs to feel confident in getting meetings set up in these spaces so that the first time they’re using the technology isn’t right before a big sales meeting. 

Lead with technology when creating your return-to-office plan.

We see many companies putting together a plan for getting people back into the building, and then asking IT Directors to figure out the technology to make everything work. Unfortunately, that creates a lot of extra work and can waste critical resources. When planning how to create a safe and efficient work environment, technology needs to be considered from the very first conversation.

Technology can’t be an afterthought – it needs to be an integral part of the strategy from the beginning. Consider questions like “How will technology enable outside customers to enter the building?” and “How will we determine the right access to technology from home?” or “How can we best set up meeting rooms to accommodate new ways of working?” There are plenty of innovative options like a virtual receptionist, proximity analytics, or even smartphone apps that allow people to book meeting rooms using a QR code – all of these can help keep spaces sanitary without hurting productivity. The key is that IT needs to be looped in from the beginning. 

Get help when you need it.

Don’t try to be a hero. IT teams are notoriously overworked, and likely moreso over the past several months. Many organizations are facing layoffs and budget cuts, so it’s tempting to try and take on more work yourself, but that would be a mistake. More than ever, it’s essential for IT to scale and put infrastructure in place that can support a hybrid workforce. Don’t be afraid to outsource some of the work or look for vendors who can shoulder some of the burden. From supporting tickets to white-glove conferencing services, there are many options for enabling a more productive workforce. Remember that ultimately, your IT staff will be measured by the value they bring and the challenges they can help people overcome – and you won’t get dinged for getting a little assistance along the way. 

Consider the long term impact of technology decisions.

Right now, it’s easy to make decisions based on the immediate impact. However, almost every decision has consequences for a year or two from now. Are you taking those into account? Think about the big picture strategy or you’ll risk creating more problems down the road. You’ll always need to respond to what’s urgent, but ensure you’re creating an intentional long-term plan and then return to it when you have time. In the short term, do your best to take the time to properly vet solutions for long term viability and scalability, and focus on communicating across the organization in an uplifting manner. 

To be honest, no one really knows what the new normal is just yet. Whether continued remote set-ups, returning to the office, or a hybrid model, one thing is for sure: work will never look the same. The significance of the changes remain to be seen, but it’s definitely time to start thinking about the future and developing new strategies for IT department. Consider that employees will need to feel safe and secure returning to their office. Consider also what technology needs to be in place to support an efficient and productive environment. IT Directors need to be at the forefront of these conversations and decisions. 

For more tactics to create connected, collaborative, and productive workforces, follow our blog. If you need tips to boost employee morale and communication during these unprecedented times, you can always reach out to our experts.

Event Management vs Event Planning: What’s the Difference?

When you have an event management project on the horizon, you can feel a bit like a circus juggler. A ton of tricky components come into play. And every single one needs your attention. Right now. At this moment.

Timings, catering, guest list, entertainment, management and staffing on the day… the list is endless.

The thing is, knowing the difference between events management and planning can help keep the process seamless. And they aren’t always easily distinguishable to the untrained eye.

In fact, they’re often used interchangeably with no real clarification on their purpose and how they differ.

When you’ve been asked to plan an event, your first port of call will be to understand exactly what the client is looking for and what’s needed.

And likewise, if you’re planning an in-company event the two functions need to be distinctly defined and understood so you can pull off a seamless event to remember.

Essentially, you’re going to need to ask yourself: does this call for event management, event planning, or a winning combination of both?

Let’s look in detail…

Event Management vs Planning: what’s the big misunderstanding?

Firstly, the confusion between job roles is understandable, as there’s a fair bit of an overlap.

Simply put, event planning is creating the big picture. Event planners are going to be working with clients from the very beginning and are most likely involved with the original concept, carving out what the event is going to look like.

It’s an involved and often lengthy process. In fact, 48% of event planners begin planning for their event 6-12 months in advance.

On the other hand, event management is all about filling in the finer details. Every event is made up of many moving parts and it’s an event manager’s job to make sure all those parts are moving seamlessly and traveling in the direction they need to go in.

Event Planning

Event Planning: putting the concept in place

The main goal and purpose of event planning is to get all the requirements in place for the event to happen.

Now, this doesn’t mean event planning stops when the event starts. In fact, it’s common for event planners to work during and after the event to tie up any loose ends. But the bulk of the work is going to happen before the event.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Working with the client to come up with the event concept, ideas and themes.
  • Deciding on a color scheme and designing invitations.
  • Creating budget options and getting them signed off by the client.
  • Sourcing and locating the best venue for the event, that makes sense logistically as well as visually.
  • Planning and booking the event’s entertainment. This is an important one, as a study showed that entertainment is the third most appealing reason for attending an event.
  • Finding a caterer, looking at menu choices and making key decisions.
  • Negotiating contracts with vendors.
  • Overseeing event marketing and making sure it’s in line with the target audience.
  • The key point to remember is that event planning takes a ton of creative input and strategic thought. You need to be able to visualize the day, how it’s going to go down and any issues that may crop up.

Now, let’s take a look at the counterpart of event planning…

Event Management

Event Management: controlling the moving parts

Event management involves overseeing all logistics leading up to and during an event. Essentially, the job entails executing the event plans that have already been put in place.

Wiki defines event management as “the application of project management to the creation and development of large scale events.”

As an event manager, you’re there in the run-up and on the day, making sure all logistics are running smoothly and everything is how it is supposed to be according to the plan.

Responsibilities are going to include:

  • Making contingency plans for potential problem scenarios before they happen. The reality is, problems do crop up… often. And it’s the event manager’s job to pre-empt them and plan how to avoid issues as much as is in their power.
  • Familiarizing themselves with health and safety standards and making sure the event complies.
  • Ensuring all event staff know what role they’re playing and are fully equipped to do it to the best of their abilities.

Above all, remember that the emphasis for an event manager is to make sure that the event is delivered to the highest degree possible.

Which is no small feat, right? Hats off to you, events managers.

Extra takeaways

Pay close attention to staffing

Understaffing an event is a common problem that can turn serious pretty quickly. It takes experience to know exactly what’s needed and it often doesn’t become obvious until the day. Check out this case study to see how to put optimum staffing levels into motion.

Your venue should be a priority

The quicker you nail down your venue, the more accurate your costing will be. The entire event plan hangs on the venue, including management’s role in contingency planning and logistics. Remember, the numbers won’t start to make sense until the venue is confirmed.

Keep communication effortless

Good communication between the event planner and the event manager is going to be essential to the success of the joint venture. Make sure that’s firmly in place so critical solo decisions aren’t happening without the other person knowing.

Digital Signage for Events

Use technology to your advantage

This is going to be vital for the event. In particular, digital signage is a powerful tool to light a fire under both communication and entertainment.
And both event planners and managers can incorporate digital signage into their event to make it a dynamic experience.

  1. Live streaming. This is particularly effective if you’re running a large event. By streaming key events live on screens around the venue, people can easily take it all in without having to rush from one end of the site to the other.
  2. Real-time updates. Customers can immediately see updates and changes to information on screens.
  3. Powering up branding. Switching static branding to video content, for example, has been shown to reduce perceptions of waiting times by up to 35%. So if there’s queuing involved, you can take the annoyance out of it.
  4. Directing attendees around an event. Digital signage offering directions can help control the flow of people in a dynamic and entertaining way.

Want to find out more about digital signage for events? Our Solutions Consultants will be more than happy to discuss through options for adding an extra splash of value. Call us at 866.310.4923

Free tools for creating digital signage content

Content is the key driver of the digital and digital-physical worlds. Without the right content, there is bound to be a communication breakdown between companies and intended audiences. In fact, content creation for digital signage includes lots of research, testing, and development.

Most users of digital signage adopt one of the three avenues for Digital Signage Content Creation:

  1. Doing it in-house (marketing team, creative team, in-house designer etc.)
  2. Hiring an outside Branding Agency
  3. Freelancer (with some experience in designing for digital signage screens)
  4. Leveraging managed services from digital signage solutions provider

Thankfully, several turnkey digital signage solutions come with content management software to accelerate communication objectives. For example, for those trying to do in-house signage on a limited budget, there are countless freemium content creation tools. These tools can be leveraged for a stunning presentation, graphics or visuals. These tools not only provide easy-to-use design editors but also provide thousands of pre-created templates to eliminate creative blocks.

digital signage content creation service

Best Digital Signage Content Creation Tools – FOR FREE !

BeFunky

BeFunky combines many things in one. It’s a graphic designer tool, photo editor, and collage maker. It packs hundreds of customizable templates plus a vast library of tools, including innovative design elements for top content creation.

There is a mobile version of this app to take digital signage content creation on the go. There are tremendous and unique filters for pictorial digital signage content.

  • The basic BeFunky account is free
  • The BeFunky Plus Account which has extra features costs $6.99 per month

Venngage Templates

Venngage provides digital signage content creators limitless templates to play around with. Businesses could save a great deal of time by using the readily designed templates as opposed to creating new ones from scratch.

These templates could be used for any content that is professionally designed with text and colors for truly engaging communication. So, these templates can be downloaded and customized in limitless ways.

  • There is a free version with limited features
  • For the premium version, pricing starts at $19 per month

Canva

Canva is another graphic design tool that can speed along any type of digital content creation. The software is web-based and is laced with hundreds of templates that businesses can use for trouble-free content creation, including graphics texts and images. In fact, it is easy to create graphics in 1920 x 1080 or 1080 x 1920 formats on this solution.

  • Canva has Free, Pro and Enterprise plans
  • The free version is completely free
  • The Pro plan is $9.95 per month
  • The Enterprise version is $30 per month

Canva - Digital Signage Content Creation Tool

Visme

Content creators can use Visme for creating digital signage presentations, infographics, and any other visual format that content creators want to experiment with for signage and direction, entertainment, marketing, or notice displays.

Big brands like IBM have used Visme for their storytelling. Content creators can try it too and see how it works well for them. Visme pricing starts at $12.00 per month, per user. There is a free version plus a free trial.

Infogram

Infogram is for companies and brands that want to show off their data-driven organizational pride. Companies can use it to create beautiful charts, maps, reports, and similar presentations that break down complex and lengthy information into easily digestible content for clients, in-store customers, or company stakeholders and the public.

  • Infogram pricing starts at $19.00 per month
  • There is a free version

Easelly

Content creators can make the creation of infographics for digital signage an enjoyable task with Easelly. No matter what level of computer or graphic design skills content creators have, they can pull it through with Easelly. That means that companies don’t need to hire a ‘content guy’ or outsource the job—anyone can do it in a matter of minutes and save money.

  • The paid version starts at $24.00 per year, per user
  • There is a free version

Snappa

Snappa has features that make it effortless to make all sorts of colorful and creative display content. It’s carved a niche as the top freemium graphic designer software tool for blogs and social media. For anyone planning on interfacing their company’s blogs and social media with digital signage, they should start with Snappa.

  • There is a free trial and a free version of Snappa
  • For the paid version, pricing starts at $10 per month

Mindthegraph

Mind the Graph is an Infographic designer tool for scientists and medical professionals. Content creators can use it to create impressive illustrations, pictures, and textual representations of content to diverse audiences. In fact, the platform allegedly has over 6000 templates to choose from.

  • There is a free version for Mindthegraph
  • For the paid version, pricing starts from $ 5 per month

Free content creation tool by mindthegraph

Tips for Designing the Meaningful Content

Businesses can use the below expert recommendations to make content that maximizes the value of their digital signage investment:

Use the 16:9 ratio and dimensions of 1920×1080

Digital displays are created with the same consistent aspect ratio of 16:9. Consequently, for the content to appear full screen and professionally done, content creators should fit to 16:9 and have a resolution of 1920×1080.

Remember the 3×5 text rule

Nothing can ever go wrong with the 3 x 5 rule for widescreen text. That implies three lines of text and a maximum of 5 words per line. In fact, the rule keeps every textual presentation neat and visible from a distance.

Use a call to action

Communication, whether for marketing, news, or entertainment, is not complete without a call to action. Tell people to do something. Whether it’s to check out a product or subscribe to a newsletter, CTAs are a must-have.

Choose the right font size and font styles

Typography is critical when creating digital signage content. Choose a font that makes the text stand out and readable from a distance. Remember, most digital signage is viewed from 10 feet away—base the font size selection on that.

Choose the right text color

The use of contrasting pallets can help to make graphics more visible from a distance. Consequently, content creators can experiment with diverse colors in the design stage, but they should keep in mind that the main goal here is communication.

Use white space

White space is a design concept that can make content easily readable from far. Studies show that the use of whitespace can improve understanding levels by 20%. Content creators need to ensure that there are spaces between their content.

The bottom line

With the right content and digital signage solutions, businesses can slash their digital communication and marketing costs by as much as 62%. In fact, the best thing about digital signage content creation solutions is that most of them are free of charge. Also, the value of the content that businesses create with them, on the hand, is for life.

Talk to our solutions consultants on other tips to help improve your digital signage content. Also, we offer a fully-managed service for creating and scheduling digital signage content for your screens

How to Increase Student Productivity During the Pandemic

There’s an old Chinese proverb which says that teachers can only open doors, students have to enter by themselves. While that may be true, there are plenty of ways to make it easier to get through the metaphorical door and improve student productivity.

And the metaphorical door is even more of a reality during a pandemic.

But while the traditional classroom situation is in a state of uncertainty, teachers are working harder than ever to keep morale, and student productivity high.

Admittedly, there is no guaranteed recipe for creating a highly productive classroom.

But there are concrete, practical steps that teachers and schools can take which are proven to keep students happy, engaged, and above all, productive.

Embracing Technology enhances Student Productivity

Students of today – the digital natives – expect technology as standard.

It’s not just the students, either. More than 90% of teachers say the internet improves their access to lesson content, resources, and materials.

And the pandemic has posed some serious challenges to all kinds of students. Loss of access to in-class lesson time being a key problem. In fact, it has led to 70% of the world’s students being left out of schools.

That’s why many teachers have embraced streamable lessons, using platforms such as Zoom (which we are all very familiar with by now). The upshot is that students can continue to learn on a regular schedule and not lose any valuable learning time.

In a similar vein, pre-recorded lessons also let students from different time zones learn at their own convenience.
Another highly effective technology method schools are using, is by introducing digital signage to the classroom for when physical lessons are running. This can improve their students’ education and improve communication between teachers, students, and parents.

Digital signage offers an effective way of engaging with students in a way that they are accustomed to. You can use it to seek their views, share documents and lesson materials, or even run quizzes.
It can also be used as the base for traditional teaching, for example sharing interesting content that informs class discussions.

During these times, it’s important to control the flow of people throughout a school. Digital signage can show students and teachers where they need to go and how to move safely around a school.

Keeping students – and parents – informed helps keep schools running smoothly. Digital signage makes it easy to keep everyone up-to-date, and if plans or dates change, it couldn’t be easier to make sure the whole school community knows.

Embracing technology in education improves student productivity

Head Outside to Freshen up

Studies show that learning outdoors has real benefits.

Students may feel stressed with the added movement restrictions in a classroom setting, as a result of the pandemic.

Outdoor learning reduces stress, improves mood, boosts concentration, and increases engagement with learning. When schools take students outside, they are more motivated and self-directed.

What’s more, those benefits continue even after they come back inside.

That’s right: getting students outside increases their focus, and this continues even once they’re back in the classroom, making them work more productively.

If you’re new to outdoor learning, some planning is required initially. Teachers and students need to prepare for all kinds of weather – working towards an outdoor gear lending library can be a good idea. Other than that, it’s best to start simple – a reading session, for example – and just get out there.

The key is not to treat outdoor learning as an ‘add on’ to the curriculum. Instead, see it as a tool for teaching and learning which provides a different way of covering the curriculum – one which is proven to enhance student productivity.

Learning outside has real benefits

Making Things Visual improves engagement

The use of visual aids in the classroom stimulates critical thinking, makes learning more engaging and helps students understand and remember what they’re being taught.

In fact, bringing visual elements into the classroom has been shown to improve both math and reading performance.

It’s no surprise. Most people – adults included – find it easier to understand concepts that are represented with an image or via a video than through a text description.

Using visual aids in the classroom isn’t an especially new concept, but it is one that has been given a boost in recent years thanks to huge advances in technology. Interactive whiteboards, infographics created using the latest software, and slideshows and other creative presentations are all commonplace in today’s classrooms.

And with students sitting further apart and perhaps less able to see the front of the classroom clearly, visual aids are a great way of adding depth to a lesson and increasing visibility.

Digital signage software helps here, too, offering an easy way to display a wide range of content and images. These can be viewed immediately, interrogated by students and updated in real-time by teachers – and students, if you permit them.

Visual Ads in Teaching

Recognize and Reward

Inspiring students to succeed is perhaps the most important aspect of teaching. Recognizing achievement is central to this.

Students who feel that their participation and achievements are recognized in tangible ways feel proud, appreciated, and happy. What’s more, it motivates them to work harder.

A recent study from Chegg.org has shown that almost 50% of students have reported suffering from anxiety as a direct result of the pandemic. The pandemic has affected general mental health greatly.  And so, it’s effect cannot be underestimated.

Motivation and positive affirmation can go a long way to supporting and enhancing student productivity during this tricky time.

And achievement might not always be academic. Sporting success, artistic endeavors, or outstanding community contributions all count – and should all be acknowledged.

There are lots of ways schools can recognize achievement. A simple thanks can go a long way.

But a public acknowledgment (which can be carried out digitally, of course) goes even further. Certificates, pin badges, and trophies are all valuable ways of showing appreciation for students’ achievement.

Digital signage is also a great tool for recognizing success. It’s immediate – outstanding performance can be shared in minutes. You can showcase good work and share that outstanding artwork or musical performance. Plus the whole school sees and hears about it, sending a positive message to the entire student community.

Recognize and Reward to enhance Student Productivity

Give Students a Voice

Just like adults in the workplace, students are at their best when they have a sense of control and ownership over their work.

Giving students a voice in how they learn makes them feel valued. They’re more likely to concentrate and actively participate. And it will help them develop other important life skills – like critical thinking, collaboration, and negotiation.

Inviting students to help shape lessons doesn’t mean handing over the classroom or letting them do whatever they want.

Guided questions – “which part of this math project do you need to do first”, for example – can help focus students on what they need to achieve while giving them a say in how they get there.

You can go further and give them complete free reign to think of creative ideas that make learning fun if you want to.

What’s crucial is that schools and teachers have the final say. But embracing your students’ creativity engages them in the whole learning process – and that can reap productivity rewards.

There are no guarantees of student productivity. As the Chinese proverb says, only students themselves can make it happen. What schools and teachers can do is provide the environment, the inspiration, and the tools to make it possible.

 

For more about how digital signage could help in your school, check out this Mvix blog post or contact us today.

Collaboration in Business: What it means, Why it’s hard, and 15 reasons it’s vital

Team collaboration. Business collaboration. Collaboration in the workplace. Collaboration is a word that comes up so frequently in business that Wikipedia has included it in a list of corporate buzzwords. But while the term might be used over and over again, it’s a mistake to dismiss collaboration as empty corporate jargon.

Collaboration is a fundamental and proven part of successful businesses. As the late Steve Jobs put it: “Good things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” Of course, we would agree with Steve – we’re in the business of helping organizations collaborate. 

So here’s the low down on collaboration, what it means, why organizations find it so hard, and, of course, why you have to prioritize it.

What is Collaboration?

At its simplest, the dictionary definition of collaboration is the act of two or more people working together to complete a task or achieve a goal.

In business, collaboration among employees means groups of people giving their time, effort, expertise, and ideas to achieve a shared objective or solve a problem.

Collaboration is sometimes seen as a process, and a quick search will provide you with countless step-by-step guides and online collaboration tools. While those are certainly useful, they don’t entirely get to the heart of collaboration.

Because what’s crucial about collaboration is that it stems from a vision that’s genuinely shared. There is consensus about the ‘problem’ to be solved and a sense of ownership with everyone involved working together to co-create the solution.

What it isn’t: Collaboration vs Cooperation

Collaboration and cooperation are often used interchangeably and what’s frequently described as collaboration is more accurately cooperation.

Cooperation refers to people or teams working together, but typically without that shared vision. In practical terms that might mean a group working ‘together’ on a project, but with individuals assigned specific objectives to achieve themselves.

Or it might simply mean helping a colleague out, perhaps joining forces to help them meet a tight deadline.

The fundamental difference between the two is that collaboration brings ownership, while cooperation means working towards an objective someone else owns.

The Leadership Challenge

In practice, collaboration is tricky. Collaboration tools certainly help and can provide a practical means of bringing people and teams together. But they don’t guarantee a genuinely collaborative organization.

At its heart, collaboration is a cultural issue. It starts at the top.

Leaders need to walk the walk when it comes to collaboration. Are they talking to their employees and, even more importantly, listening to what they are telling them? Are they taking on board the ideas coming up from the ranks?

Collaboration is challenging for leaders because it means letting go. It means putting others, sometimes more junior colleagues, in control. It means actively seeking out and respecting different viewpoints. And for many leaders, that doesn’t come easy.

But just because something’s hard doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary. 

On the contrary. We’ve compiled 15 key reasons why collaboration among employees and collaboration in business as a whole are vital.

15 reasons why collaboration matters

First Reason

Poor collaboration leads to failure in business. A survey of 1,400 corporate executives found that 86% list lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the key reason for workplace failures.

Second Reason

Employees think leaders would see better results if they were more collaborative. The same survey found that 90% of employees think decision-makers should seek out alternative opinions before making decisions.

Third Reason

Collaborative organizations do better than their competition. Businesses who promote collaboration are five times as likely to perform highly.

Fourth Reason

Employees are more likely to stay in organizations with collaborative leaders who act on feedback – staying four times as long with their employer.

Fifth Reason

Organizations consistently say collaboration matters but fail to make it happen. Three-quarters of businesses rate collaboration as very important but almost 40% of employees say their organization doesn’t do it well enough.

Sixth Reason

People in ‘professional’ roles don’t actually spend much time collaborating – typically less than 15% of their working week.

Seventh Reason

Millennials are driving the demand for collaboration. A third want collaborative workplaces and 49% want to see social collaboration tools at work. What’s more, these factors influence their opinion of companies – and almost 80% cite ‘workplace quality’ as a factor in their choice of employers.

Eight Reason

Despite the importance placed on collaboration, firms rarely reward it. A 2013 study found that this lack of incentive and reward was a powerful barrier to collaboration.

Ninth Reason

Collaboration boosts productivity. One study found that improved collaboration via social technologies could make workers up to 25% more productive.

Tenth Reason

Firms prize employees who can work collaboratively. In fact, collaboration is one of the top four skills that employers think contribute to future success.

Eleventh Reason

Communication barriers hinder collaboration and come at a cost. One study put the cost of poor communication at around $26,000 per employee.

Twelfth Reason

Despite the importance employers put on collaboration, they rarely actually assess it. Less than a fifth – 18% – of employees have communication reviewed during their appraisal process.

Thirteenth Reason

Companies aren’t great at laying the foundations for collaboration. Only 23% of executives say their organizations align individual goals with organizational ones.

Fourteenth Reason

Employees are more engaged and stay focussed for longer when working collaboratively. They stick with a task 64% longer and report higher success rates.

Final Reason

Technology is helping. More than 80% of employees rely on technology to enable workplace collaboration.

If you want to find out how digital signage could help your organization collaborate, get in touch today.

Digital Signage Templates for Fall and Halloween

Summer is officially over – leaves are starting to change color and the ‘pumpkin-spiced’ everything craze is in full motion. In marketing, every new season breathes a new story, and it’s always important for businesses to tailor their strategy to what is relevant. Customers’ needs and moods change depending on the time of year, so do their spending habits. (more…)

110 Content Ideas | What to Display on your Digital Signage

The business case for digital signage is an easy one to make as digital displays get 400% more views, have a recall rate of over 80%, and also improve brand awareness by almost 50%. In fact, at least half of communication experts consider digital signage to be a must-have channel. With that being said what content should you display on your digital signage? Digital signage content ideas may be hard to come by and may require some additional thought.

(more…)