The way we communicate and build relationships has changed drastically over the past decade. Just take a look at our workplaces. Many of us sit behind screens and speak to each other via internal chat programs rather than walking over to one another or picking up the phone.
You might even be reading this on your mobile, with a work WhatsApp or Slack chat on in the background or dialled into a conference call. That’s not to say these changes are inherently negative.
As we become more aware of the impact and opportunities of these technologies a growing shift is occurring, with more people recognising the value of human relationships.
While technology is important and plays a key role in enhancing how people communicate and collaborate, it shouldn’t be the focus. Technology is a tool and delivers the greatest value when it helps facilitate relationship building, between colleagues – whether in the office or working remotely – or with clients, partners or prospects. It helpsenable these relationships to happen, but at its core it ultimately needs to work seamlessly and avoid causing distraction.
Here are some of the ways that businesses can utilise technology to empower human connectedness and relationship building:
Optimising meetings to enhance relationships
Most workplaces are pushing their teams to be more productive and efficient with the time they have in a work-week. As a bi-product, a cross-generation of employees (including a lot of millennials) are becoming more vocal about the value of face-to-face conversations, preferring to use their time at work to get important tasks done. The lesson here is to maximise the use of a meeting. Share a quick agenda at the start of the meeting, capturing the key things to discuss, and keep track of time. Nominate a person to lead the meeting, to ensure it stays focused and is beneficial for all involved.
Designing more effective collaboration
If your team is geographically diverse, you’ll need collaborative technologies that encourage more “face” time, i.e. video and voice conferencing tools like GoToMeeting and its associated solutions. If your team are all located within the same office, encourage in-person interaction for Work in Progress or start of day meetings, to help build camaraderie, and use a workplace chat function to support their day-to-day interactions.
Supporting employee experience
If we understand modern workplace collaboration to require technology, in some capacity, we must also look at how it is rolled out. To deliver the best quality work and relationship building between employees, top-down support from the business’ leadership team is essential. Good leaders not only put the right technology in place, but they provide a consistent, supportive environment in which relationships can be built and fostered. They also reward good work in a way that transcends geographies, so that employees feel like an important part of the team, irrespective of where they live or work.
For example, our team at LogMeIn uses Slack to communicate between team members, globally. We have different personalised channels, on top of the daily all-team group, which help build bonds with people across the company that have similar interests from any team or geography. Getting employee buy in on new technologies can be challenging, but many of our team acknowledged that it was an easy transition to this collaborative tool when they learned it would enable them to have fun while getting work done – thinking outside the box could help your technology adoption rates and boost morale.
Use technology to better your partners
Positive relationships help any business move forward, but they’re absolutely vital for small and medium sized organisations (SMBs). Unlike large scale enterprises, many SMBs rely on outside partners to do critical parts of the job and help them deliver better business outcomes. This might be legal advice, marketing help or designers, for example.
If you’re not located in the same region, technology will greatly aid your interactions with partners and ensure that you’re all working towards the same goals. Video conferencing tools or webinars can help you bring together multiple partners in a quick and effective manner to deliver information or update one another on your progress for a particular project. Again, check out solutions like GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar. Online chat tools can also help businesses connect with their partners in safe ecosystems, sharing information with those that are approved to be part of the microsite. With an increasing number of time zones at play for many businesses, these tools can help you get more done in a shorter amount of time – which is great for your business, your partners, and your team.
Though there are a vast number of communication and collaborative technologies now available, the human experience should never be lost in these interactions. Prioritising the value of relationships within these transactions can help to ensure all parties involved are more satisfied with their level of engagement – no matter where in the world they are working from.
Lindsay Brown is Vice President, APAC and Japan, at LogMeIn.