Taking the Friction Out of Collaboration Tools

Taking the Friction Out of Collaboration Tools

Having frictionless collaboration is almost impossible without the added stress of remote work. And when technology is new or foreign to a single team member or a whole department, it’s easy to dwell on the difficulties rather than implementing processes to reduce collaboration tool friction.

But how do you take the friction out of collaboration tools?

Reducing Friction for Your Team

The Design Gym talks about ways to reduce collaboration friction on the individual, team, and organizational levels. The first order of business when it comes to reducing friction within a remote team is to embrace your differences. Accommodating personal rhythms within remote workflows can go a long way toward creating a more cohesive team experience.

Another tip for creating a better remote team experience includes making it easy to share your work. The easiest way to avoid friction here is to choose a collaboration tool that supports file-sharing and includes plug-ins or applications for commenting or editing files as a team.

Reducing Friction by Simplifying Your Collaboration Tool Use

Though you should encourage your team members to find workflows that help optimize their duties, one thing you can do to reduce collaboration tool friction is to standardize and simplify your toolkit.

Make sure all your teams, departments, and special projects collaborators are using the same collaboration tools – and it’s even better if you can find a single tool to implement and use across your work areas. This reduces friction when it comes time to collaborate inter-departmentally.

Lead with Purpose – And a Clear Agenda

When you set up times to collaborate virtually, you can reduce friction by training team leaders and meeting organizers to lead with purpose. You can avoid those chronic

meetings that should’ve been emails” by preparing an agenda for them.  

If you start your preparation and find yourself out of substantial action items, it might be more worth your time to create some team messages or files to look over rather than scheduling a virtual meeting

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Communication

In a world where most of our communication is virtual – and by that nature very easily misinterpreted – there is no such thing as too much communication.

We have more ways than ever to help us collaborate. Using the full range of tools in your collaboration technology arsenal, you can show and tell your teams and colleagues what you are trying to accomplish with every project, and they can collaborate more effectively with more options.

Encourage your teams to contact each other more often, rather than less, to reduce friction and increase productivity.

Leverage a Personal Digital Adoption Coach

Each of your team members will have different and unique collaboration technology challenges. 60% of collaboration platforms go unused by companies, and it’s difficult to track employee adoption.

Nearly all businesses are investing in more and more collaboration technologies. And underutilizing this investment causes missed revenue opportunities.

Put Bex to Work!

Meet Bex, a digital adoption and training automation platform powered by Meet Me In The Cloud. Bex was built to help your employees customize their collaboration tool learning and reduce friction that comes with skill gaps and constant tech updates. Bex is purpose-built for Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, and is available on-demand, 24/7.

Bex includes two pieces: Bex Bot and a desktop application. You can learn more here or contact Bex today.

Is Your Virtual Meeting Secure?

Is Your Virtual Meeting Secure?

As we move toward online solutions to take care of more and more of our work and personal duties, the issue of cybersecurity becomes more important. Virtual meeting security is multi-faceted and complex. So what can we do to make our meetings – from corporate conferences to family video chats – more secure? Are there features we need to enable or other factors to consider?

Let’s talk about virtual meeting security.

Why Virtual Meeting Security Is Important

Did you know that trade secrets are shared in as many as 1 in 5 online meetings? And whether your meeting content includes trade secrets, sensitive topics, or just day-to-day updates, you don’t want uninvited ears to have access to any company meetings or virtual events.

Major Security Threats

Cyber threats are always evolving, and here are some of the top ones to be aware of right now:

  • Bombing – This occurs when someone disrupts your professional or important meetings by sharing disturbing or pornographic materials.
  • Snooping – This occurs when someone jumps into your meeting discreetly and can eavesdrop on your information. This isn’t as obnoxious as bombing, but it is infinitely more dangerous.
  • Compromise – Listeners can glean company secrets, and even financial account access or personal information.
  • Hacking – Regardless of which collaboration tools you are using, these platforms have to store participant information at least temporarily. This includes email addresses and other contact information, company information, financial and other reports, and even things like answers to polls. If a hacker finds a way into your system, they can take this information, leading to issues from minor inconveniences to legal ramifications.

Audit Your System

A great way to head off potential cybersecurity threats is to perform an audit of your collaboration system. Walk through your meeting parameters, tool settings, and identify potential weak spots that could be manipulated by cybercriminals.

Meeting IDs – One-Time, Private Use

Many cybercriminals take advantage of our propensity for reusing passwords, meeting IDs, and more. When you create a meeting, make sure you aren’t reusing previous meeting IDs – the information people use to log in to a video conference session.

And remember to keep the meetings private when you can. If they aren’t viewable to the public, you have a better chance of keeping the content in that meeting away from prying eyes and ears.

Include Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

Enabling multi-factor authentication and password entry to files and meetings decreases the likelihood that someone unwarranted can get into your meeting. Again, make sure you don’t use specific series (for example CompanyName2021Dec, CompanyName2021Nov, etc.) or other easily recognizable password patterns that could be easily understood and guessed by outside influences.

Check Your Settings

Every collaboration tool and meeting feature has a set of default settings. Before creating your next meeting, take a good look at the settings to see which items could be enabled or disabled to better protect your meeting.

Update Your Company Policies to Ensure Virtual Meeting Security

Now, online conferencing and working remotely have become commonplace. Another way to protect your company and your meeting participants’ information is to create or update a company virtual meeting policy.

You can set up guidelines and rules for creating meetings, outlining appropriate computer or collaboration tool use, downloading and installing unfamiliar programs or files, and more.

Protect Your Next Virtual Meeting

Meet Me In The Cloud’s Event Assist services can help you protect and plan professional and engaging virtual events.

Have questions? Contact us today!

What Video Meetings Will Look Like Post-Pandemic

What Video Meetings Will Look Like Post-Pandemic

Hybrid spaces are going to be a big talking point for the foreseeable future. So let’s take a look at how video meetings are going to look post-pandemic, and how they are going to shape the hybrid work experience.

Hybrid Technology

This Zoom ad gives us an interesting glimpse into what the future of collaboration could look like.

Technology is going to be the foundation of the hybrid workplace, in a much different way than it previously has been used to facilitate business. The technology is going to expand to show remote workers what’s happening in the office – through file sharing, chatrooms, video conferencing, and more – as well as keeping in-house workers connected to all members of their team, regardless of location.

The New Conference Room

Prior to 2020, about “2% of 27 million huddle rooms worldwide were outfitted to support video conferencing.”

This means you’ll have new challenges to solve as team leaders, managers, and corporate executives. The first one is: “Are there any changes we need to make to our current meeting policies and the way we schedule them?”

There are also many health and proximity concerns in terms of making sure your conference room can incorporate good visual and audio of those within the room to those logging on remotely, as well as good visual and audio setups for everyone in the room to hear their remote team members clearly as well. The setup and function of conference rooms should be discussed and reconfigured to facilitate the most successful video conferencing parameters.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has been a great way to bolster more meaningful connections in virtual meetings, but how will that work in the hybrid workplace?

Remote and in-house connectivity may be part of the future plan – you will need to supply your team members with quality video equipment and technology (like Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams and others) to ensure everyone can take their meetings wherever it suits them best.

Here are some best practices when conducting a video meeting:

  •  Make sure everyone present is clearly visible (some technology providers even have software now that can virtually “seat” everyone at the same “table”)
  • Provide and/or check for high-quality audio connections
  • Implement intuitive room controls for both scheduling and facilitation
  • Provide avenues for real-time sharing and collaboration on work material

Hybrid and Collaboration Technology Training

With this jump to a hybrid model, your teams will need training for a few reasons.

First, the hybrid workflow is going to be markedly different from past efforts. It will take some adjustment from everyone before things start running smoothly.

And second, collaboration tools are also changing rapidly, to ensure they can meet all your hybrid workplace needs. And that means your staff will likely need more, or even comprehensive, training on the ins and outs of these rapidly evolving technologies.

Your fully remote workers will also need to be a part of this training and consideration. Remember that their home (or wherever they choose to work from) will present its own unique challenges when it comes to video conferencing, from audio to visual to even basic things like a strong enough internet connection to support video conferencing capabilities.

Need Help Navigating These New Technologies?

Meet Me In The Cloud is a global leader in collaboration adoption services and scalable solutions that help organizations compete, grow, and succeed in an increasingly hybrid world. Click here to browse our expansive training and education options.

Have questions? Contact us today! 

The Power of the Hybrid Workforce

The Power of the Hybrid Workforce

The old and the new are no longer trying to outdo each other – they’re working together. As we’ve moved through recent challenges, many industries have found that in the discussion of in-house vs. remote work, there’s no clear winner. And this mindset opens doors for a new realm of possibilities to combine the two. The power of the hybrid workforce lies in each company’s ability to set parameters based on what works for their business and its employees.

Here are some things to think about when you are measuring the power of the hybrid workforce.

The Hybrid Workforce and Inclusivity

One of the hybrid workforce’s biggest challenges is also one of its biggest strengths. By allowing your team to operate from the location that best suits their work-life harmony, you have the chance to also improve the inclusivity of all voices.

Professional teams have never had more ways to communicate and collaborate than they do right now. And with these myriad options, you can incorporate fresh ideas and perspectives much more frequently. There is no longer the need to try and create meeting spaces and times that will work for 90% of your team at any given time – you can create threads, chat areas, and host files or virtual events to discuss and collaborate through all stages of a project’s life cycle.

The hybrid workforce also helps quell the issues caused by proximity bias – the belief that leads us to falsely assume employees are more productive when they have to come to the office every day. Productivity varies by person, not by place. And including the flexibility to work from home when needed means you will have better meeting attendance – you won’t miss out on the perspectives of those who may need to be home with family or take care of personal tasks during the traditional workday hours.

This inclusivity is good for fostering diversity and equity, as well. Many companies have more than one location they work from – hybrid work can help pull different teams together to work on a collaborative project without uprooting some employees from their normal offices.

The power of the hybrid workforce stems from its inherent ability to bring people together, even when they don’t come from the same physical or cultural place, ensuring every team member has a voice.

Models in the Hybrid Workforce

A common reason many companies (pre-2020) didn’t want to discuss remote work with their employees is that “we can’t operate remotely.” Now that this has been heartily disproven, what does the hybrid workforce look like for remote workers? For in-house workers?

For most people, being part of a hybrid model will mean many employees will engage in more fluid weeks – some weeks they’ll work remotely on Mondays and Thursdays, other weeks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, for example. This is a more 50/50-style hybrid model.

Other hybrid models will mean that most or all of the work will be done remotely, with special events and projects requiring in-person office collaboration. Dropbox is one company that has decided to go “virtual-first”: this means all office spaces will be used for collaborative work, not solo work. It also includes a non-linear workday structure – this allows for core collaboration hours to overlap in team members’ schedules, while the rest of the workday can be dictated by the employee and their needs for that day or week.

Even if a business leans more towards a majority in-house hybrid model, many companies are still creating virtual-first solutions that can accommodate any remote worker’s needs. By hosting processes and files online as a standard practice, you can still work from anywhere, should the need arise.

Harness the Power of the Hybrid Workforce with MMITC

Meet Me In The Cloud is your partner for all things collaborative. Whether you are training new or existing team members on the latest collaboration technology, looking for adoption or migration services, or need help planning and executing a top-tier virtual event, MMITC has a team of experts ready to assist you.

Have questions? Contact us today! 

What the Hybrid Workplace Will Look Like

What the Hybrid Workplace Will Look Like

Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are leading the way in hybrid workplace research and new technology feature announcements. As these collaboration tools gather more data, it’s a great time for us to take a look at the trends that are emerging.

Zoom recently conducted a survey which found that 65% of respondents who have been working from home for the past year said “a hybrid work environment was their ideal work model,” with about half of that group preferring to work from home, and half preferring to work from the office. As the survey continued into more specific facets of hybrid work, the responses began to vary greatly, which shows there is a lot still unknown about how we will navigate this new era.

We’ve talked before about how the future of work will be focused on achieving success in the hybrid workplace. But where does collaboration fit into the hybrid workplace, what will it look like?

The Hybrid Workplace Will Vary by Industry

While essentially all industries had to pivot their work models this year to combat disruptions and challenges caused by COVID-19, not all industries will be perfectly conducive to hybridity – there are limits to the hybrid workplace model.

For example, healthcare has greatly expanded Telehealth and other online offerings, but there will never be a time when doctors and nurses will be able to see patients 100% virtually, thus creating a need for more “in-office” time than, say, an advertising agency or a retailer with both an online store and physical locations.

Technology can’t bridge certain gaps, and those gaps will still need to be filled with onsite workers.

The Hybrid Workplace Will Vary by Role & Personal Preference

Just as the industry type is a factor in hybrid work models, job type will also need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Traditionally, content writers, corporate teams, and other jobs where a majority of the work can be done on a computer and through conference calls tend to be jobs that lend themselves well to a predominantly remote work model. The same is true for certain management positions – a manager’s time can be split between the office or store, and home.

But cashiers, hospitality and restaurant workers, and health inspectors are not going to be able to work full-time remotely due to the onsite nature of their roles.

Also, some of the hybrid workplace dynamics will be determined by personal preferences. Two marketing department associates may have similar job duties and very different work models – the older associate with children may find it more beneficial to work in the office, while a single associate may enjoy working remotely to accommodate personal travel plans or other aspirations.

Technology Will Be at the Heart of Hybrid Collaboration

Since it’s possible that every single employee’s hybrid work model may look slightly different, collaboration and communication will be the biggest concerns as we try to create our ideal versions of the hybrid workplace.

To effectively steer a hybrid workforce at your company, you’ll have to leverage technology in more unique ways to cover all the new ways people will be performing their job functions, especially those that are highly collaborative.

It’s Changing All the Time

The hybrid workplace likely will continue evolving as employee preferences, work trends, and productivity evolves. In fact, many studies say that the flexibility it allows will create a sort of a la carte-style work model, where employees will have the ability to switch up their preferred routine to accommodate seasonal changes, appointments, childcare needs, and overall work-life balance clashes.

As it changes, we must be ready to examine and react to these changes in proactive and productive ways.

Take the Hy(brid) Road Early

Need help acclimating your team to a new hybrid workplace model?  Meet Me In The Cloud is equipped with solutions to help you foster technology adoption and plan, set up, and execute flawless meetings and events. For more information, check out our Event Assist and collaboration technology adoption services.

Have questions? Contact us today!

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