Consider for a moment the true story of a senior executive in the public sector who is employed by a government agency that permits employees to work remotely for two days each week.
My friend the senior executive believes that employee engagement and workforce collaboration is negatively impacted by the absentee nature of this offsite model.
Employee engagement is challenging for any organization. When collaborators reside in virtual workspaces, rather than sitting together in an office – or at least sharing offices in the same building – it can be difficult to foster teamwork: that invaluable sense of coming together to achieve common goals. Physical separation can create impediments to collaboration if comprehensive solutions to address employees who are working –just not in the office– aren’t developed and even more importantly, implemented.
The complications of offsite work are becoming increasingly common across the public sector, as organizations switch to requiring employees to work offsite. There is good news, however. Microsoft Office 365 can help public sector organizations address collaborative challenges in a teleworking environment.
Collaboration pitfalls aside, teleworking options are popular with the public sector for good reason. Allowing employees to work remotely can save taxpayer dollars while also increasing efficiency and productivity within the organization itself – a win-win situation. As they move to accommodate this increasingly popular shift, many public sector agencies are moving to cloud-based platforms like Microsoft Office 365.
Two best practices are absolutely essential for fostering public sector workforce collaboration using Microsoft Office 365:
If you’re going to require employees to work remotely, you need to ensure they can access all of the software applications they need to do their job. That means all required applications need to be cloud-based and accessible. Moreover, you need to make sure remote users can login and be authenticated so they can use whatever Office 365 workload products they may need to use.
At the very least, most employees will need access to email and document storage. But the more applications you can move to the cloud, the more effectively your teleworkers can do their jobs. This best practice sounds obvious, but it’s something that too many public sector agencies overlook.
Office 365 puts a wide variety of applications at employees’ fingertips; from Online versions of Microsoft Office, to things like Power BI (data analytics), Skype for Business (communications) and storage (OneDrive). These tools have the potential to help virtual employees collaborate and be more productive, but in reality they are only helpful when workers know how to use them.
Education is the key to ensuring your team makes the most of the technology available to them. Organize training sessions to let your team know what Office 365 is capable of. All of this training information should be available on your intranet system so users can refer to it easily when they encounter an unfamiliar feature or workflow.
There are many best practices for using Microsoft Office 365 in the public sector, but these two are foundational. They are the most important to consider during the early days of Office 365 adoption.
Focusing on these two best practices will help to set your organization on the path to success in your new teleworking model. By investing time in planning and education, you can reduce the learning curve for new users and help them begin using Office 365 to collaborate efficiently.
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