Collaboration in the modern workplace is often complicated by barriers that can be overcome by applying the appropriate technology.
Nearly 20 years ago, I worked in the office equipment industry. Our industry was promoting a revolutionary idea that was ahead of its time, the “paperless office”. It seemed inconceivable for many organizations that they would be able to operate without paper. But, if you fast-forward to today, the idea does not seem as farfetched. Reading documents on a computer, tablet or even a phone are commonplace. Even sectors that required “wet signatures” are satisfied with an electronic signature, eliminating the need to print.
The tools to enable collaboration have been evolving over the last 10 years. With the introduction of cloud-based technologies like Microsoft 365, the ability to work from anywhere and collaborate have offered organizations the flexibility to stay productive, even with employees working away from the office.
SharePoint has been a staple in the Microsoft portfolio for quite some time, but SharePoint Online was built with the modern workplace in mind. If you are not familiar with SharePoint, this article shares how best-in-class organizations are leveraging SharePoint to support distributed and remote workers. The capabilities of SharePoint have even been more relevant during the pandemic, which has forced many organizations to move employees offsite.
Here are a few ways that SharePoint is being used to support a remote work strategy.
An intranet is a communication hub for the organization. SharePoint can be used to communicate and share relevant information with the entire organization. When I came to Kiefer 5 years ago, Kiefer was using a SharePoint-based intranet. I had worked for several organizations prior to coming to Kiefer, and I had never seen an intranet that was as versatile and simple to use. We recently moved our intranet into a Microsoft look book template and the entire team has been impressed by the visual design and simplicity of the intranet. The intranet is a practical way to put SharePoint to use and a convenient way to share information with your employees, wherever they may be working from.
SharePoint allows you to share a link to a document that is stored in the SharePoint repository. Instead of sending an attachment, you send a link. The document “stays in place” (in the cloud) and users can collaborate and co-author. Changes and versions are captured in SharePoint. Co-authoring is invaluable if you have several contributors providing input. Instead of having to collect changes and modifying the document, the content is being updated in real-time and contributors can see activity (changes, etc.) occurring in real-time. Kiefer has used SharePoint collaboration sites to store documents that need to be accessible to the entire team. SharePoint helps to ensure a single-source-of-truth and reduces the risk of several (different) copies of the same document from circulating within the organization. Collaborating in SharePoint is the practical way for remote teams to work together.
Alternative to attaching a file in an e-mail
Attaching files to e-mail was the ONLY way I knew how to collaborate prior to coming to Kiefer. Send the document to a college and wait for them to return the document (with edits) with a different name. Something like “Newsletter_Message_REVISED_FINAL_FINAL”. At Kiefer, I was quickly scolded and directed to SharePoint. Sending links instead of the attachment takes some getting used to, but it makes sense.
Benefits of using SharePoint instead of sending attachment –
- File size limitations of e-mail are bypassed
- Collaboration ca happen in real time with several content contributors
- Single source of truth
- File is retained
- Access previously saved versions of the document
Lastly, the benefit of workflows in SharePoint is another big win for the remote workforce. A simple “review and approve” process can go 100% digital using SharePoint. We used to refer to this process as the “Red Folder Process”.
SharePoint allows documents to route to specific people in your organization based on pre-determined criteria. There isn’t a need to manually forward a document for approval or hand-carry a document across the office for signature. SharePoint will allow you to track documents in the workflow and identify potential bottlenecks.
Empower Remote Workers
SharePoint has a ton of potential and we’ve helped clients leverage SharePoint in various ways. If you have questions about SharePoint and would like to expand your use of SharePoint to better support remote work, we can help. Let us help you in developing a SharePoint strategy for remote work.