As long-term hybrid work drives spending on collaboration tools, companies preparing for permanently remote or distributed teams know that the key to retention and engagement is a focus on inclusion and culture. Here are some top tools in which to consider investing.
While the pandemic may have accelerated investment in software designed to solve urgent gaps, such as virtual onboarding, direct to consumer e-commerce needs, or employee collaboration, the trend hasn’t slowed. Companies’ IT budgets are set to grow at most businesses next year. In fact, software solution spending is the second largest spending category, behind hardware spending, according to the State of IT 2022.
Part of the increase has to do with businesses preparing for a longer-term hybrid work scenario than previously expected. Collaboration tools became necessary to keep the workforce connected. According to Gartner, enterprise-wide collaboration tool adoption has risen 44% since 2019.
In the coming year, companies will continue to rely on software solutions to improve engagement and company culture. To this point, in a report by the software marketplace, G2, more than half of decision makers expect their software spending to increase next year. The company consulted 756 decision makers with responsibility for, or influence over, these purchasing decisions.
In fact, large companies plan to keep adding to the software stack to support hybrid work. Three in four decision-makers from companies with at least 1,000 employees will be on the market for an additional five or more software tools this year, the report found. If you’re exploring new tools for your distributed teams, here are some of the top categories in which to consider investing.
Top Tools for Engaging Hybrid Teams
1. Team Chat Apps
While everyone has access to email and text messaging, businesses need to provide a special venue for spontaneous and seamless communications. Team chat software tools offer improved communication for everyone on your team. The best tools in this category allow for impromptu conversations and the ability to share messages, ideas, documents and videos.
2. Remote Desktop Software
Employees working at home might occasionally run into problems that only IT professionals can solve. It is much easier, efficient and cost-effective for IT team members to access desktops via remote software tools than visit employees’ homes for quick troubleshooting.
3. Video Conferencing Tools
Over the past few years, video conferencing tools have become increasingly popular, helping businesses connect with remote-based and traveling workers. The remote revolution spurred by COVID-19 has brought even more businesses into the video conferencing mix. Business leaders have discovered that video conferencing tools enhance engagement, increase productivity, provide clarification in collaboration, and lower communication costs.
4. Project Management Apps
Project management apps are effective tools for in-house work as well as remote work. The best project management tools allow for improved communications and collaboration, better scheduling to keep the project on track, enhanced communication with clients, easier task delegation, standardized processes, and streamlined budget management.
5. Screen-Recording Software
Screen-recording software has become an invaluable tool for employees in various contexts. For employees working in customer contact centers, screen recording instantly provides a record of every chat session with customers to help ensure quality service. Employees working collaboratively can share snapshots of online research material snippets to get to the point of an article quickly and carry on the discussion.
6. Screen-Sharing Tools
Screen-sharing tools work in conjunction with several tools listed above. Your employees can take screen recordings with screen-sharing capabilities and share them with colleagues and management in chat app sessions, video conferences, and direct communications via email and text.
7. Cloud Storage Services
Cloud storage services help employees maintain more control over their off-site work environment, managing documents and files with more support and ease. Since employees are often responsible to help ensure data is secure and accessible, cloud storage benefits have become invaluable remote work tools.
8. To-Do List Tools
Most of your employees have repetitive daily tasks or steps to complete multifaceted processes that can get lost in the mix without special attention. It’s easy to get distracted in any circumstance — but especially when working remotely. To-do list tools can provide prompts and reminders to keep employees on track.
9. Wellbeing Apps
Many companies interested in improving employee retention are focusing on workplace wellness. Why? Because improved health and wellness leads to increased productivity, better employee focus, and company health care savings. Regardless of whether or not your company has an official wellness program, you can still take steps toward healthier habits during your workday. Here are 7 seven wellness apps to consider providing for your team.
10. Security Tools
No matter how diligent your employees are about peak home security, they might need improved security tools — especially working with your organization’s confidential documents. Key security tools to consider include a VPN, PC threat monitoring, and secure file-sharing and cloud collaboration.
11. Brainstorming and Mind-Mapping Tools
You don’t want to lose your team’s brainstorming momentum because nearly everyone is working remotely. With online whiteboards and mind-mapping tools, your team can virtually maintain the collaborative nature of brainstorming.
12. Inclusion & Emotional Intelligence
What most of these technologies do is connect devices and teams, but they do not build the person-to-person connection. And when your team is hybrid, one of the most critical components for a team’s wellbeing and productivity is a sense of inclusion.
There is technology that can help you achieve this. By infusing emotional intelligence (“EQ”) data — by way of a simple plug-in — you can spark improved daily collaboration, team performance, and organizational EQ. The idea is that when employees better understand each other before communicating via email, meetings, or any daily interactions, you’re laying the groundwork to drive resonance between all interactions, remote and in person — which moves your organization toward a more inclusive culture.
Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing them. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to call on for pre- or post-meeting action items, for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to document or support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work styles — that’s an inclusive approach to working with others.
This kind of technology, called Culture-as-a-Service, is based on psychometrics — and in addition to facilitating more meaningful collaboration, it allows you to compare under- and high-performing teams within the organization to identify and address issues faster. You can culture map core values to your team’s measured motivators, behaviors and ideal work environments to gauge alignment and identify gaps. When you implement culture intelligence solutions, you’re leveraging often unknown and unnoticed insights about your team to establish more effective communication, working structures, and talent acquisition plans — all which will help you scale or transform culture.
Companies that have focused on creating inclusive cultures among distributed teams and building high-performing teams based on culture analytics — those like Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, Bank of the West, BASF, Honda, AFLAC, Lyft, and others — have improved performance, customer experience, and profitability. If you’re transitioning into longer-term hybrid work models, we can help you build a more cohesive, inclusive, and productive team.