Building the Digital Workplace: Bringing Teams Together Across Platforms

Learn how to bring your teams closer together, while working on different platforms + download our free e-book about building the digital workplace!

Did you know that app overload accounts for 32 days lost in employee productivity and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted annually

The consumerization of the digital workplace has fuelled the demand for more purpose-built apps across different organizational functions. However, the adoption of multiple apps has upended productivity, as employees spend more time wading through digital workspaces than actually getting work done. 

While investment in the digital workplace is crucial to enabling employees to do their best work, the sheer number of apps only adds barriers to cross-functional collaboration. Without a shared digital workspace, communication and teamwork suffer. 

To connect apps, people, and processes, it’s important to equip your teams with a unified platform where they can access information and work collaboratively anywhere and anytime. That’s why modern intranets are the foundation of the digital workplace.

Intranet portals, think SharePoint or Confluence, increase transparency, and information accessibility. Teams no longer operate in a vacuum and everyone is now aligned around a single source of truth.

Along with intranet implementation, IT leaders are also looking for integration points across enterprise apps. Beyond information sharing, the key to a successful digital workplace is the seamless flow of work across teams. 

In this complete guide to Building the Digital Workplace: Bringing Teams Together Across Tools, you will learn how to optimize your Office 365 and Atlassian products for a unified digital workplace of the future.  

Here’s a quick overview of this guide:

Digital Workplace Overview

The growing portfolio of workplace apps has transformed the way people work. Today, you can find dedicated tools in every corner of the office. 

Below are the primary digital workplace solutions:

  • Communication: Incorporate messaging tools, company blogs, or chatbots for internal information delivery. 
  • Collaboration: Deploy a project management tool and knowledge-sharing platform for coordinating work across teams, effective document management, and reliable performance measurement.
  • Mobility: Enable remote access of tools away from the office, whether via desktop browser or mobile app. 
  • Business applications: HR platform, CRM, expenses & payroll for efficient talent acquisition and employee management.

At the heart of any digital workplace is team autonomy. With these technological innovations, everyone is given the necessary tools to perform work independently and have the authority to make decisions. For leaders, you can unleash the power of the whole organization and increase employee morale and performance.

But there are always two sides to every coin. Increased team autonomy equals less control over how collaboration is done. Leadership is still indispensable to making the most of these technologies.

Below, we will discuss common challenges in digital workplace transformation and how successful businesses stay ahead with integrated intranet platforms.

Digital Workplace Challenges: Lost Productivity and Siloed Information

The number of communication channels increases with the number of apps, and the information that an employee needs isn’t always accessible. Because of that, the digital workplace can be held back by disconnected apps and siloed teams.

App-Switching Reduces Productivity 

As mentioned in the beginning, app overload costs businesses 32 work days lost in productivity. Per employee. Per year. 

Since many apps are used exclusively within a department, cross-functional collaboration is more complicated than ever.  For instance, it’s not uncommon for enterprises to use both Office 365 for communication and document management, and Atlassian Jira for product development. The benefits of both platforms are apparent. However, as the company grows, gaps can begin to appear between these systems. 

While the software team manages just fine with Jira, they still have to jump back and forth between endless email threads to respond to requests. Or worse, they may lose track of tasks because the project plan is stored on another team space on SharePoint. If someone forgets to notify other members of the new assignments, no one seems to be on track. 

Clearly, you need a better way to navigate this “Wild West” of digital workspaces. Failure to align them can cause huge losses in productivity. 

Digital Walls Create Information Silos 

With all the data available at your fingertips, finding the right information at the right time can be hard.  

Each department has its own systems, and work-related information is scattered everywhere. As reported by The Panopto Workplace, the average US companies lose $47 million annually in productivity due to inefficient knowledge sharing

According to the report, 85 percent of employees agree that preserving and sharing unique knowledge in the workplace is critical to increasing productivity. Yet, many organizations overlook the importance of a common information repository. 

Now, let’s find out how you can synchronize all your business processes and manage cross-departmental knowledge via intranet portals.

How Intranets Help Solve Digital Workplace Challenges

At the ground level, an intranet empowers document management, real-time collaboration, knowledge sharing, as well as content creation. More robust platforms like Confluence are capable of project planning and other business services. 

Furthermore, you can integrate a variety of tools to facilitate a truly digital environment.  

For the purpose of this guide, we will discuss the combined functionality of the two most popular intranet platforms: Atlassian Confluence and Microsoft SharePoint.  Understanding the strengths of both tools will give you a general idea of what makes a powerful intranet.  

Atlassian Confluence is a wiki platform that emphasizes content creating and collaboration, helping teams do their best work. What makes it an ideal software for intranet development is its simple, yet powerful page design capabilities, with real-time notifications that keep everyone engaged on important matters. You can also integrate it with the project management tool Jira, along with over 800 third-party apps in Atlassian Marketplace to extend its functionality. 

Microsoft SharePoint is a popular intranet platform bundled with Microsoft Office Suite. It bests Confluence in document management. Instead of having to download attachments for editing and then reuploading them, SharePoint allows you to work on Microsoft files in real-time, in the cloud (via the popular Office Web Apps). Combined with features like hub sites creation, team chat, project planning, and integration with third-party apps, SharePoint is a preferred intranet solution for many Microsoft users

To deliver on the full promise of modern intranets, successful transformation leaders prioritize tools that support all aspects of work, as explained below: 

Building a Common Knowledge Base

A corporate intranet should focus on managing knowledge as an asset. It is an all-encompassing platform for employees to share new ideas, co-create content, and deliver new levels of innovation. 

Done right, you can exploit your intranet to encourage knowledge sharing and invite employee contributions beyond their traditional domains. Using the Wikipedia-like approach to content creation, as seen in SharePoint, your intranet is where breakthrough ideas coalesce into actionable strategies and plans

Beyond enterprise-wide knowledge sharing, you can also expand the intranet into a public knowledge base to support your customers. Confluence, with its documentation capabilities, offers a robust platform for internal and external access to technical product information, for instance, user guides or release notes.

One of the key components of a successful wiki space is the use of metadata, available in both SharePoint and Confluence. By adding metadata to your content, you can easily structure important information and enable others to quickly find it.

Managing and Sharing Documents Across Confluence and SharePoint

With Microsoft SharePoint, your organization can break free from endless email threads and uncontrolled file sharing. Once uploaded to SharePoint, your documents can be edited and automatically saved in the cloud. No matter when and where your team members access the file, they will always see the most updated version and track changes through the edit trail. 

Outdated files can create a communication gap that directly affects the workflow. That’s why we developed SharePoint Connector for Confluence. By integrating SharePoint with Confluence’s content editing capabilities, you’ll have a central hub for content creation as well as document management. 

No more collaborating on a document through confusing email threads and uncontrolled version updates. Having a space to store and collaborate on the same work document is essential to keeping your business running smoothly. 

Most importantly, all of your confidential data will be kept securely and under control. You can set permission access to the right audience, as well as audit the activity log to manage who has been viewing or editing anything. 

Integrating Various Communication Channels

One of the core functions of an intranet is to foster peer-to-peer collaboration through both synchronous and asynchronous communication

Simply put, synchronous channels like direct messages are great for brainstorming or when you need an immediate response. But if you anticipate that the conversation will evolve, bring it to a knowledgesharing platform instead, so other people can jump in and collaborate. A team site on SharePoint is ideal for asynchronous communication, especially if your teams are geographically distributed

The best part? Most intranet platforms allow integration with a third-party messaging app, for example, SharePoint and Teams, to facilitate frictionless communication. You can easily embed a SharePoint site in Teams to collaborate on a project. So, whenever you’re having a discussion, your team members can instantly access the information they need without having to switch between apps.

Get our free ebook Building the Digital Workplace: From Intranets to Ultra Teams for more insights into successful intranets.
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Facilitate Cross-Functional Collaboration Across Office 365 and Atlassian Workspaces

While a shared intranet enables knowledge sharing, when it comes to project management and cross-functional collaboration, teams often fall back to their preferred platforms.

Consider this scenario. Your marketing team manages projects via Office 365, including blog posts and design files, while the software team delivers features through Jira. When working on the same product launch campaign, how do the teams coordinate work across platforms? 

This is when app-switching can become a real drag on productivity. A team member can easily waste hours of work navigating between SharePoint sites and Jira boards. And that’s only at the scale of a single project. Imagine managing multiple of them. 

Fortunately, there’s a simpler way of connecting projects and teams on a shared platform. Built upon the robust intranet platform provided by Office 365, Space Navigator for Office 365 is an app that allows you to bring together all your digital workspaces in one place.

Here’s how it works.

Once you install Space Navigator for Office 365 from the Microsoft AppSource, you’ll have all your projects, communities, and teams displayed on a single digital workspace. Then, using metadata, you can quickly filter and find content by department, location, and more.

Access all your projects, communities, and teams from a single workspace.

Space Navigator for Office 365 features quick links that will help you instantly go to any platform that teams are using. Whether your team collaboration is within Office 365 or across the Atlassian system, you’ll be able to jump into work, right where it happens, in just a few clicks.

Access the apps you need for collaboration without having to navigate through countless tabs.

What does this mean for your business? Projects are no longer buried in layers of apps. This brings increased information transparency, easy discovery, and seamless connectivity across different tools. Now, any team can get to where it needs to for smooth collaboration across the digital workplace.

Conclusion

To unleash the potential of the digital workplace and drive innovation, businesses need to counter app overload and deliver a positive employee experience. There’s no single app that rules them all, the key to successful digital collaboration is integration between apps and platforms that support current workflows.  

The 2020s will be the decade of autonomy at work and the mainstream adoption of tools that enable us to craft our own unique workplace experience. 

John T. Anderson, CEO of Smartway2 (source)

Are you ready to build your digital workplace? Then you’ve come to the right place. A premium solution partner for both Atlassian and Microsoft, Communardo hosts the annual Digital Workplace Summit every year. We’re recognized experts in enterprise collaboration and software developers trusted by over 3,500+ successful companies around the world.


Juliane
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