How to use IT to improve your office culture
Office culture. Get it right and you’ll create a working environment where staff are productive, proactive and supportive of one another.
The good news is there’s a whole host of technology, software and IT strategies to help you build a strong culture within your organisation.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways in which technology and IT can help you develop your ideal office culture. We’ll also take a look at how Microsoft Teams in particular can help you establish a positive culture to grow your business.
First, let’s look at what we mean by culture.
Why is ‘culture’ so important?
When thinking about organisational culture, it’s easy to dismiss it as something superficial. But office culture isn’t just about making the workplace an enjoyable place to be. It’s much more than relaxation areas filled with beanbags, stand-up meetings or bowls of free fruit.
Culture is embedded in every fibre of your business, affecting everything from how you manage workloads to how you share ideas.
It’s the way senior managers communicate with staff.
It’s the way teams share ideas with one another.
It’s how you ensure everyone in your business feels supported.
It’s how your staff think about the business and whether they feel they can make a difference.
It’s how your staff treat one another – whether they look for blame when things go wrong or work together to find solutions.
The business benefit of a positive office culture
When you have a great culture within your business, customers notice. They receive a better service from your staff and will give their loyalty to a company where employees are happy and supported.
And of course, when you become known for being a great place to work, it becomes easier to recruit and retain the best talent within your industry. So, building a strong office culture doesn’t just benefit your staff, it also makes good business sense.
But how do you build a positive culture? One where staff are inspired to deliver their best?
The answer is technology.
Whether you want to improve communication, encourage collaboration, support career development, reward staff, or provide a more flexible working environment; there are tools and systems to help you build a strong office culture quickly and cost-effectively.
How IT and technology impact on culture
As we’ve seen, culture impacts every aspect of your business – as does your IT strategy. So, it makes sense to ensure that the vision for your office culture and your IT strategy are aligned.
Here are just some of the ways IT and technology can be used to foster a positive culture within your organisation:
When everyone in your business works effectively together on projects, productivity soars, work is more enjoyable and new opportunities are created.
In order to collaborate effectively, employees need to see themselves not just as an individual ticking their way through their daily tasks but instead as a key member of a bigger team; all working towards a common goal.
Online work management platforms are a great way to boost collaboration in your organisation, transforming how your people work together. The one that we recommend is Microsoft Teams.
Using Microsoft Teams to transform your business
Microsoft Teams makes it easier for your people to collaborate, creating transparency and growth within your organisation.
According to Microsoft, employees are typically now part of twice as many teams as they were five years ago. For teams to work effectively it’s essential that they have:
- Defined roles and responsibilities
- Clear task allocation
- Explicit deadlines
- Easy access to the right files and information
- Effective communication methods
When you enable employees to collaborate digitally, you can boost productivity, improve communication and provide flexible working. As a result, office culture is improved with less stress, increased morale and greater job satisfaction.
More and more workforces are adopting Microsoft Teams to provide a collaborative online workspace to bring teams together. With a single platform for files, meetings, chats and documents, everything is easily accessible, secure and simple to use.
You can tailor Microsoft Teams to the requirements of your own particular business. For example, bringing teams from across the country together easily on video calls – or allowing staff to collaborate on the same documents, at the same time. You can easily group people and restrict access by project so that employees only see the information they need – keeping sensitive data safe and cutting out noise.
Collaborating together means your teams can solve challenges quickly and share ideas to help deliver projects on time, with the very best results.
Of course, introducing any new platform into your organisation can require a period of learning as your people get used to a new system. But Microsoft Teams is incredibly intuitive and easy-to-use so your teams can hit the ground running and enjoy using the platform quickly.
At Netstar, we help our clients embed Microsoft Teams into their business, giving them all the help and support they need to make the platform work effectively for them. If you’d like to find out more, click here to get in touch.
How your colleagues communicate with one another is key when establishing your culture. From email and online messaging to face-to-face meetings or video calls, there are more ways to communicate at work than ever before. But which is right for your business?
Many organisations fail to implement a communication strategy and instead just let preferences evolve naturally. The problem with this is that staff often fall back on what seems easiest – such as email to talk to one another, even if this isn’t the most efficient way to get things done. We’ve all felt stress levels rise coming into the office after lunch to see hundreds of unread emails from colleagues.
Other colleagues may prefer using messaging tools but these can create a constant distraction from other tasks as they feel the need to respond as soon as they see an alert. Or perhaps you have a culture where staff are constantly arranging meetings – which if not controlled can quickly take up a big chunk of the day.
If this sounds familiar, it’s wise to review your current communication practices. Are there ways your people could communicate more efficiently? Tools such as Microsoft Teams can revolutionise the way your staff communicate – allowing conversation to enhance the working day, rather than being a distraction.
Gone are the days of clocking in and out of the workplace or sticking rigidly to 9-5 hours.
Now it makes more sense for businesses to provide flexible working hours or the option for employees to work from home. And this has benefits for both parties.
Studies show that offering a flexible working environment helps build a positive culture with improved productivity and loyalty. It also has been shown to lower absenteeism and reduce turnover.
When offering flexible working options, it’s important to review your IT processes and IT security strategy. You need to be confident that when staff are using their own devices either in or outside the office that security is maintained.
You also need to know that staff can access all the information they need to get their job done, wherever they are working from. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to complete a task because you can’t log on to a system remotely, or access a key piece of data. But by using technology wisely, you can ensure your teams can work whenever and wherever; while protecting your processes and keeping sensitive data safe.
With cloud-based technologies and platforms like Microsoft Teams, it’s now easier than ever for employees to access the information they need from anywhere.
4. Career Development
Providing an environment where people are able to grow and progress their skills and experience is a great way to develop talent within your organisation while building a strong culture.
Offering training has been linked to increased productivity, increased job satisfaction and higher morale. Staff will feel valued and your business will benefit from the increased skills and confidence within your teams.
Technology has made it easier and more cost-effective than ever to provide learning opportunities for your staff. Whatever industry you’re working in, there’s likely to be a host of online tools and e-learning platforms to support your training and development. You could use technology to develop your own company’s training and induction programme or you could choose an off-the-shelf e-learning product to fulfil a particular training need.
With interactive learning, video, audio, individual and group training sessions available online; you can tailor training to your organisation and to each employee’s preferred learning style.
A positive office culture relies on transparency. When you have transparency, you remove confusion and blame. And when everyone knows what they need to do with clear timescales and objectives; it becomes much easier to direct resources where they are needed most.
With collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams it’s easy to share workflows, trackers and task allocation, bringing transparency to every project. This, in turn, leads to better communication and a workplace where everyone has clear goals and responsibilities.
Microsoft Teams improves transparency by providing:
- Better visibility – as everyone can see the real-time status of projects
- Increased accountability – people can see what they need to do in an instant
- Clear documentation – no more wondering which is the latest version of a particular file or report
6. Recognition and reward
In a study by employee motivation company Make Their Day, 83% of respondents said recognition for contributions was more fulfilling than rewards or gifts.
Simply knowing that their work is valued is extremely motivating for staff. There are lots of software applications that can help you track goals and employee performance. And when done well, these strategies help you build a culture of appreciation where every member of the team feels valued and recognised.
7. Reduce stress and boost morale
If your staff are constantly battling with IT issues, it can quickly create a culture of negativity. Colleagues become frustrated and stressed, work isn’t completed on time and the whole business suffers.
Conversely, when IT actively supports your employees, enabling them to work more productively and efficiently, it creates a positive atmosphere where employees enjoy their work and achieve more during the day.
If recurring IT issues are creating a negative culture within your organisation, it’s important to find a solution. If your current IT support provider is failing to tackle those everyday niggling IT issues, it may be time to look for a new partner. Click here to find out more about the signs that it’s time to switch IT support partner. [n.b. can link once the other article is live on the website].
- Discover more about our IT support services
- If you’re thinking about switching from your current IT support provider get in touch here, or give us a call on 020 7101 0544.
- Want to learn more about what the right IT support looks like? Check out this article on how to choose the best IT Support provider for your business.