In the last year, the word "work" has been completely redefined. Both the work we do, and how we think about work, has been disrupted. When the lockdown hit, businesses were forced to transition from office-based to remote working—and now, we will see hybrid working become the future. Business leaders must now realise that the rise of distributed teams brings its own unique challenges when it comes to keeping employees motivated and productive.
Since the start of the pandemic, technology has been critical to continuing operations, and we now rely on it more than ever. Tech teams have always been central to the adoption and implementation of new tools. It is therefore imperative to have, and look after, dedicated tech teams who are helping to not only adopt, but roll out new technologies and support teams with whatever digital transition they're going through.
So, before businesses can even think about delivering the best customer experience (CX), they must first look at themselves internally and focus on creating the best employee experience (EX) for their tech teams. If those teams are engaged, motivated, and armed with the right tools, they'll be ready to do their best work.
Employee experience took a backseat for many years, but in the last decade, it has been climbing up the corporate agenda as a way to attract and retain top talent. The pandemic has thrown those efforts into stark focus as companies strive to remain competitive—and employee wellbeing is crucial to this.
As the pandemic has advanced and as technology has evolved, the office has moved away from being the ‘gold standard'. It's now possible to provide employees with flexibility in both time and location, without impacting productivity. In fact, our consortium, Future Forum, found that productivity and work-life balance actually rose when employees were given a more flexible schedule:
- Flexible work location policies are effective. Employees at companies who allow people flexibility in work location reported 43 per cent better productivity scores and 44 per cent better work-life balance scores.
- Flexible schedules are even more important to workers than where they work. Employees at companies that allowed this reported 53 per cent better productivity scores and 57 per cent better work-life balance scores.
Of course, there's still value—culturally, politically, and creatively—in being together. This is why a hybrid approach will allow businesses to reap the rewards of in-person and remote working, without having to make their employees sacrifice either. As well as flexibility, a good EX also means giving tech teams the means to maintain efficient communication with colleagues. That's why business leaders are now making great use of messaging apps and collaboration platforms.
Motivating tech teams through the right technologies
By equipping tech teams with technologies they love to use, businesses will ensure their employees remain motivated by spending time on high-value tasks, while also creating a dependable space for team communication. But it's not just about any tools—businesses must choose one which offers a ‘gold standard' of collaboration, alignment, and transparency as only then will they achieve the highest quality of EX.
So what does this gold standard look like, in order to prepare businesses for hybrid work?
The pandemic has shone a light on the limitations of traditional workplace communication methods, such as email, which creates information vacuums and excludes stakeholders from important conversations.
This is why businesses should move towards the new gold standard of business messaging apps which can, and have, come to offer a digital HQ for teams. In comparison to old methods like email, these apps allow for today's faster, cross-functional collaboration so that teams can operate with more flexibility and achieve greater productivity.
Furthermore, functions like snooze notifications offered up by such messaging apps allow workers to stay focused on the work that matters to them while turning down the volume on topics that they find distracting. While, keeping conversations archived in a channel-based format simplifies knowledge sharing. Openness doesn't have to lead to information overload, but instead, transparency.
Delivering on the best customer experience
Beyond internal communication, the best messaging apps which motivate tech teams will allow for seamless external collaboration—bringing customer experience to the forefront of all business operations. We therefore introduced Slack Connect to offer up a way to connect businesses with their external partners, as no company is an island. Slack Connect creates a bridge between different companies' Slack workplaces to streamline communication, and in turn, bolster CX through seamless collaboration.
A key part of CX is also about offering a fast and efficient service. So, another way such messaging apps are paying dividends is in bringing applications together through integrations. This is critical as our State of Work report found that 64 per cent of workers spend 30 minutes or more each day simply switching between apps, adding up to more than 130 hours of lost productivity annually.
The tech team at telecoms company Vodafone use integrations in Slack to great effect, such as PagerDuty for monitoring and escalating customer-facing events. Every time an incident is reported, the right team is notified almost instantaneously, removing the time spent manually searching for the right expert to solve the issue. Using the Slack/PagerDuty integration, Vodafone has been able to lower resolution times from around 20 minutes to under five, freeing up staff to focus on nurturing customer relationships and providing quality service.
Without focusing on the EX of tech teams, through giving them the right tools, businesses cannot provide the best CX. As we move towards a hybrid future, the organisations which place an emphasis on employee engagement and deploy innovative tools will be the ones that reap the benefits of a motivated workforce, which delivers quality service.
Slack is for all kinds of teams and companies. Learn how leading businesses are reimagining what's possible in the workplace and how to chart the strongest path forward for your organisation here.
Stuart Templeton is Head of UK at Slack