During a recent panel discussion hosted by The Economist, "Cloud, collaboration, and connectivity: How can seamless communication be delivered?", M-Files CEO Antti Nivala took on some of the toughest issues facing businesses in our time of digital transformation.
For many, the new ways of working are freeing, but there are unanswered questions: How do businesses communicate seamlessly in a work-from-anywhere world? What does a good office environment look like in the cloud era? How can you empower your employees when they're working in drastically different time zones?
According to Antti, getting employees on the same page is about more than just sending them a laptop. "Even in places where the technological gaps have been filled, there needs to be a cultural change," he said. "Now that many people, especially those at knowledge work companies are independently working at a time and place of their choosing, we have to make information available in a self-serve, on-demand way."
Collaboration off the clock
The best workplace for your business may not be a physical place at all. You may not even work at the same time. "When we free people from the limits or restrictions of a place, they also begin making choices of when they work. Synchronous ways of communication and collaboration don't necessarily work anymore," Antti said. "We have to accept new ways of asynchronous collaboration and work together differently than when we were all gathering together in a meeting room."
One way that companies can get more done in an "always-on" world is by unlocking information and empowering their employees to access it when they need it.
"Maybe it's a cultural thing that companies, managers, and leaders tend to keep information to themselves," Antti said. "Unless there is a very specific confidentiality reason why it shouldn't be, I'm an advocate of the thinking that most of the information should be available and accessible, from a technical and access rights point of view to pretty much every employee in the company."
Another way to optimize processes and make your business more dynamic is to provide access to learning possibilities. "For us as leaders, it's about enabling and empowering employees to be successful." According to Antti, "our role is to provide ways for them to develop their skills."
During the panel, Antti explained that existing platforms like LinkedIn Learning offer a lot of value to your employees' skill set. However, you know your business best. Beyond creating comprehensive onboarding processes and information libraries, companies should offer their team members in-house learning and self-development courses that can be taken when and where they want.
"If you can provide extensive learning and self-development opportunities, I think you are doing a great job in enabling your employees to not only do what you hired them to do but to elevate themselves to the next level."