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How to Build a Hybrid Workplace Through Organizational Transformation

In a 2016 global survey conducted by Oxford Economics and sponsored by SAP, they showed that three out of four (74%) of the best-managed companies facilitate collaboration in the workplace. Entitled “Getting Collaboration Right,” the study looked at the collaboration traits of 4,100 executives and employees from some of the world’s most digitally savvy organizations.

The study showed that the world’s highest-performing companies have distinct collaboration traits:

  1. These companies believe that teamwork begins at the top. They view leaders as facilitators of collaboration, and active participants of the programs they initiate, with three-quarters (74%) of top performers focused on improving their collaboration skills.
  2. They are willing to invest in a collaborative culture. These leaders are significantly more likely — by 20%—to view decision-making as being distributed across the organization, spending a portion of their time in helping to improve the success of collaboration initiatives.
  3. They actively leverage collaboration platforms. Leaders are visible participants within their collaboration communities, not just paying it lip-service. More than two-thirds (68%) use collaboration platforms to evaluate employee wants and needs.
  4. They consider collaboration an employee benefit. According to the survey results, 62% of satisfied employees believe that their manager is proficient in collaboration compared to 36% of dissatisfied employees. Meanwhile, companies that place collaboration at the center of their corporate culture are quick to recognize the benefits. 60% of very satisfied employees report that their organization provides technology to facilitate collaboration compared to only 32% of dissatisfied employees.

All of this is to say that the business leaders who’ve been able to collaborate most successfully go out of their way to make it a priority—and employees appreciate them for doing so. It’s these same organizations that know how to act on and harness the power of a hybrid workplace to make collaboration as seamless as possible. If you want to make the most of Microsoft 365 but haven’t made much leeway yet, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and begin transforming your organization from the ground up.

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What Goes Into a Hybrid Workplace Transformation

As more organizations make the transition toward the cloud and embrace formal Digital Workplace strategies, the need for leaders who not only understand the value of collaboration but who also focus on the overall success of these collaboration initiatives becomes increasingly important. The challenge for most companies is finding a balance between flexibility and control.

Having a strategy in place for a rapidly evolving technology platform like Microsoft 365 must be just one piece of your plan. Your strategy should include details on how to better align your technology with your business processes, how teams will access and use the platform, the lifecycles of critical content types and how they’re stored as your content volume grows, and other considerations. You’ll need governance policies in place as well as the proper tools and processes to manage expected (and unexpected) changes.

Successful hybrid workplace transformations tend to come through a series of small wins, or pilot activities, which can be expanded as milestones are reached and your leadership team is convinced of the business value of the transformation.

Your plans must also account for all of the features and capabilities that Microsoft is releasing on a regular basis. On top of these Microsoft offerings, end users are also demanding IT support for third-party solutions and services, most of which can be purchased and integrated with other enterprise applications outside of the purview of your IT team. There is much to consider.

Culture Drives the Change

With organizations now more broadly recognizing collaboration as a business necessity, stakeholders are looking beyond simple adoption metrics (like how many users log into the Microsoft suite each month) and more closely at how their teams are using the platform.

Much of what is driving the push toward the Digital Workplace is not so much about the compelling nature of these new models, but about trying to optimize business workloads and solve the end user adoption gap caused by frustratingly slow movement toward the cloud.

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Which brings us back to your culture.

If your organization has historically been slow to respond to end user requests in SharePoint, for instance—from improvements to search to the rapid deployment of new site structures to meet growing business needs—individuals will look elsewhere for the answers. Being proactive with analyzing Microsoft 365 usage and being agile when making the necessary adjustments will only benefit the employees and the organization’s bottom line in the end.

While this push by end users to bring in the latest consumer-focused productivity solutions may appear to move your organization toward a Digital Workplace more quickly, the opposite may actually be true. Without the support of IT and management, any misstep or breach will be greatly amplified and derail the process. Everyone has to get on board and be on the same page for a hybrid transformation to be successful.

To some degree, the rise in collaboration has more to do with failed governance and change management practices—and the poor alignment of a strategy with the company’s key business processes—than it has to do with functionality improvements.

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Christian Buckley
Christian Buckleyhttp://buckleyplanet.com
An Office Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, Christian Buckley is an internationally recognized author and speaker and runs the community-focused CollabTalk blog, podcast, and tweetjam series.

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