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4 Huge Reasons You Need to Enable a Modern Workplace in 2020

Stephen Briggs, Sector Manager at Perfect Image, explains how modern workplaces are transforming working lives for the better.

I’ve been a salesperson for many years, and in that time I’ve flown from country to country for meetings, I’ve used forests of paper and sat in hours of meetings to get to the final, final… final version of proposals, I’ve stuck stamp after stamp sending out paper proposals and contracts for signatures, I’ve driven all over the UK to get customers and our consultants together on-site, and so much more.

Many things that in 2020 I simply don’t need to do anymore.

That’s not because I’m letting my standards slip, but because now we have an abundance of quicker, easier, more efficient ways of communicating with customers and collaborating on documents – of generally doing our jobs.

This week, I had a meeting with an international marine company for a large piece of work using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and our new FlexCare IT support packages. This project has been eye-opening for how beneficial a modern workplace can be. We’ve been working with several members of their team from different continents and time zones, and a few years ago this would have been a huge problem. Today, in our modern workplace, it’s easy.

Let me explain how…

1. Conveniently bring together people from all over the world – for free

Previously: Flying people out to and from various countries to have a face-to-face meeting.

Today: Organise an online Microsoft Teams meeting.

Their team and ours all log into Microsoft Teams at a time that suits all three time zones, from the convenience of our desks or at home. There are multi communication channels offered, including video, chat, documents comments, whiteboard. I can share my desktop and present a PowerPoint as I speak to them.

Being able to get people from multiple locations in one place at the same time is so helpful and mostly, convenient. For anyone who can’t attend we record the meetings and share it with them afterwards.

2. Better collaboration and communication

Previously: Several drafts of documents, saved on people’s desktops, and emailing documents around while being unsure of the security or what is the most up to date version.

Today: A centralised document store, online collaboration, specific client sites to manage documents, audit trails and access control.

Because Microsoft Office 365 (encompassing SharePoint, Power Platform, the Office products you’re familiar with, and more) is cloud-powered, all members of the team can collaborate on documents together, at the same time. Using Microsoft Teams or comments, we can chat about what we’re doing while we do it.

SharePoint is our document management solution where all documents about a project are saved in their own client site to keep everything organised. No more emailing around documents named something like “Client ABC Proposal v23” and hoping it’s the most recent version. It’s a centralised, reliable and up to date storage place for all documents.

Then we can share the document from SharePoint with the client. We can set permissions, access control – whatever is required – and we get version control and an audit trail. It’s a secure environment; only the customer has access to their site and the files within.

We also use Microsoft Planner to assign tasks out to the relevant people internally during the project and to set timescales.

3. More efficient, productive meetings

Previously: Meetings require too much of everyone’s time and customers can be reluctant to commit.

Today: Flexible, more efficient meetings that don’t waste time.

People can attend the online meeting for the specific part that they need so it’s not interrupting their workday. For example, with the global marine customer, we might have the Italian team on at a certain part of the meeting to say their bit, then they can exit and go back to their jobs. It doesn’t waste anyone’s time; we get through the agenda more efficiently and quickly.

From a sales perspective, I’m more likely to get 15 minutes with a new client for a discovery call than I am to get an hour-long face-to-face meeting. In the discovery call, using Teams, we can share ideas, presentations, and each other’s desktops to show issues, workflows or current legacy systems. We can record that with their permission to work with solution architects and formulate a response for a propos­­­al.

4. Robust security and compliance

Previously: Less secure systems and data. Non-secure emailing of important documents with no version control. No working from home.

Today: Protected systems, processes, documents and data as standard, plus added layers of security. Remote access to all systems and documents.

As standard Microsoft Office 365 is secure and compliant, but we’ve also implemented extra layers of security such as Multi Factor Authentication which requires you to enter a randomly generated one-time code for access to your systems and files. Because the solution is cloud-based, if my laptop was lost or stolen, our IT guys could wipe it instantly. That peace of mind is great.

That also feeds into our working from home policy, which is part of Perfect Image’s DNA and as well as being a personal added bonus, it’s just a normal part of what the modern workplace approach offers staff. It’s very convenient and helps me to be more productive when I want to get my head down and work on a proposal. We have the option and freedom to do what’s best for us individually and as a business.

Final thoughts

How we work today, compared to many years ago when I first became a salesman, I couldn’t have imagined it. Surely there’s not a more efficient way of onboarding a new client than flying to Holland, papers in hand, for a face-to-face meeting?! I’d never have thought the fantastic technologies we have today would ever have existed. I couldn’t go back to the old way of having no options other than inflexible, in-person meetings, of version after version of documents being emailed around, of travelling for hours to be on-site.

My job as Sector Manager is to enable our customers with powerful, transformative technologies. It’s simply finding more efficient ways of doing your job. Technology should empower your staff to do more, in less time.

If you’re interested in anything I’ve mentioned in this article, or learning more about how to get started with Microsoft Office 365 and a modern workplace, you can request a free consultation.

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