Selecting the right enterprise communication tools—and supporting your managers while you're at it
Author: Rose de Fremery
With so many employees working from home, business collaboration tools have become essential to business productivity. But business decision-makers must be certain that the tools they select are solving problems, not creating new ones, especially for managers overseeing remote teams.
Here's a look at how to choose enterprise communication tools for your business that support your managers and employees.
Identify the right enterprise communication tools for your business
To determine which business collaboration tools are right for your business, you need a clear sense of what your employees need to communicate and collaborate. Various departments and roles might need different tools—the sales team, for example, might get the most out of video chats when engaging clients, whereas the finance team might find web collaboration most useful when reviewing financial statements. Executives and their assistants might also have unique collaboration and communication needs.
Individual offices and regional branches might have specific collaboration requirements, particularly regarding how they interact with other areas of the business. Don't just consult different business units and employees in your organization about who they need to collaborate with and how; assess your communications requirements on a regional level and at an office level.
Employees might struggle to navigate a new tool's learning curve, particularly if you deploy several at once. A unified solution can mitigate that challenge by providing employees with a consistent and familiar experience across every device they use.
How to support management with communication tools
Remote collaboration and communication can be particularly challenging for managers, especially when they are new to overseeing a remote staff. Clear, open communication is critical to leading teams and projects, properly delegating work, and effectively managing employees' time. High-quality communication is even more critical as organizations and their employees adapt to significant change and weather significant disruptions to standard operating procedure.
According to Gartner, "Two-way communication with managers and peers provides employees with the information and perspective they need, and enables them to express and process negative emotions and feel more in control."1 Managers can take advantage of the communication tools, such as video chat, that make this possible in a remote work context. Web conferences offer managers a useful way to share important information with their teams; instant messaging sessions can keep them connected and available for quick consultations during the workday.
Your managers might be struggling to adapt to the remote work environment, so offer proactive support when it's needed.
"Having built their careers and networks on key connection points, these leaders now find themselves feeling isolated and cut off from their primary value," according to the authors of Leading High-Performance Remote Teams. "As such, it's critical to design and deploy tools, strategies, and activities to help this group reconnect to those around them."
Just as their employees and colleagues need to feel connected and included in the organization to do their best work, so do managers. Video platforms can play an important role in providing this support, as can other collaboration tools, such as mobile voice, presence, and instant messaging. But these tools are only as good as the structure they sit atop. Your organization must also work to intentionally and structurally engage managers on an ongoing basis.
How to partner with IT in assessing tools
Your IT team can be a valuable partner as you assess your existing communication tools and evaluate new tools that might fit your organization better. Your IT colleagues will be especially well-positioned to advise you on two important factors: security and reliability. Security and reliability are key to supporting a distributed workforce, according to 451 Research. This will be particularly true over the long term as more companies embrace permanent remote work.
Get your IT team's perspective on how well your current communication tools serve the business from a security and reliability standpoint and which tools could best serve your business in the future. Solicit its guidance, too, on critical concerns such as business continuity, integration with other business applications, the level of administration required to efficiently manage the tools and the capacity required to support the tools in remote work environments.