Cultur or tool - What comes first?

February 6, 2020
Pascal Grossniklaus
Founder & CEO

The trend towards modern collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack or Google’s GSuite, continues unabated. The development of this new method of communication and collaboration has already been embraced by most people in their private lives, thanks to applications like WhatsApp, Dropbox, OneDrive and Facebook. Therefore, we are also familiar with their challenges. Never before have we had that many communication channels and possibilities for sharing documents, photos and videos. Intuitively, we use those apps that meet our needs within different circles of people (family, friends, clubs, etc.).

In the context of an organisation, we now try to apply the same principles as in private areas of life. This however proves to be far more complex. On the one hand, the legal framework is making their application more complicated, on the other, the demands change depending on the roles present within the organisation. Moreover, the last few years have seen the development of a culture that conditions the way information is shared, and teamwork is carried out. Without passing judgment, it is important to note that the introduction of new tools like Teams or Slack also requires a change in company culture.

Various studies show that companies talk about technical tools far too much and too early, yet far too little about the impact such a transformation can have on the company culture. Our experience from numerous client projects has taught us that, when introducing modern tools and ways of work, the order in which this is done is key for the success of such a transformation. First, a modern communication channel for all employees (intranet) should be established and only then should the collaboration platform Microsoft Office 365 be introduced. Unfortunately, we experience far too often that it is done the other way around. This can lead the end users to feel overwhelmed or even frustrated.

Culture and values characterise the new way of collaborating

It is worth asking oneself some basic questions about the reasons for introducing new ways of work. It should not be done simply because it has become a trend:

  • Offer better service to clients
  • Be faster and more efficient
  • Foster innovation and collaboration within interdisciplinary teams
  • Offer a modern workplace to attract new talent
  • Save costs

Once these goals are clear, and with the legal framework taken into consideration, a workplace culture and governance can be defined. This is best done in a committee with representatives from different roles and hierarchies.

Guide expectations with transparent communication

The earlier an open and transparent communication takes places, the better employees can adapt to the changes and voice their concerns. The communication should preferably be frequent, simple and authentical. Ideally, it should already take place via a modern communication tool, such as ahead, which can later be seamlessly integrated into the modern working platform. This transmits security and serves also in the future as a digital portal into the daily work routine.  

Assistance with daily tasks

The introduction of a platform such as Microsoft Teams brings with it not only many advantages, but also some challenges, especially in the beginning. Many questions about which tool to use when do not have a clear ‘right or wrong’ answer. What matters most is a shared understanding within the organisation:

  • When do I create a new Microsoft Team, when a new channel?  
  • In which situations do I communicate via Teams Chat, when by email or phone?  
  • Where do I save documents?  
  • Where do I manage my personal tasks, and where the tasks of the team?  
  • Where do I share knowledge?  
  • etc.  

These types of questions are normal during the introduction. The important point is that their answers should be clear even before the roll-out and they should be readily accessible and constantly updated. Here too, a tool such as ahead is very useful, because any news concerning the transformation can be shared with all employees.

The three points mentioned above a neither scientifically demanding nor technologically complex. They simply provide clarity and therefore improve the success of the transformation towards the new professional world. In many cases it is worth consulting with an experienced person that can offer knowledge about examples and best practices.

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