The world is different now. Post-Covid, working patterns have changed. Google’s Community Mobility Reports, for example, show that workplace activity in the City of London is 54% down on pre-pandemic levels. With fewer team members in the office, and with freelancers and agencies working remotely, marketers and their creative teams need to find frictionless ways to collaborate. If remote working becomes the new normal, businesses need a long-term workflow fix.
Enterprise collaboration software (ECS)
Enterprise collaboration solutions transform your business’ ability to function in a world where team members are no longer in the office. Through powerful digital asset management features, collaboration software means that office staff, agencies and homeworkers all have secure and easy access to the assets they need to do their job. Rather than an endless cycle of insecure uploads and downloads, files and folders are readily available in a managed, centralised and secure space.
The need for ECS is especially acute given that digital content is the lifeblood of modern business operations – and marketing in particular. Inbound initiatives and outbound campaigns increasingly depend on the ready flow of assets – copy, images, videos and other content. Digital assets are crucial to information, branding and engagement – and problems with creating and managing them can derail even the most focused teams.
Distributed teams need somewhere central to store and retrieve assets. They need the confidence to know they’re working on the right version, or publishing only signed-off work. More than that, they need a single environment in which to comment and collaborate with colleagues. For all of these needs, an enterprise collaboration solution has the answer.
Going with the workflow
It’s almost a cliche to say that the pandemic has accelerated trends in flexible and hybrid working, but it’s undoubtedly true. Among employees, the demand for flexibility was growing before Covid 19, and many employers were already responding. Lockdown and working from home forced everyone to get on board – with varying degrees of success.
As the pandemic seemingly recedes, employees have experienced a new way of working, and many of them like it. In a survey by Citrix, the vast majority (88%) of knowledge workers now said that they were looking for complete flexibility in their hours and location. While the BBC reported that 43 of 50 of the UK’s biggest firms would be embracing “a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week.”
But, as we’ve all experienced, hybrid and flexible working can throw up major challenges. These can include communication problems and confusion over processes, assets or versions. According to a survey from Statista, 16% of respondents stated that their biggest struggle with working remotely was still “Difficulties with collaboration and communication.” While in Imagen’s 2021 Marketing Tech Report, 24% of UK respondents said the biggest headache of managing digital media assets was that their files were stored in multiple places, with 42% of organisations using 1-5 different solutions.
Any workplace can experience communication and collaboration frustrations. But things rapidly degenerate when you’re dealing with a distributed workforce. Office file servers usually don’t cut it when you’re spread across multiple locations, so team members need alternative ways to share their work. In the absence of a purpose-built, reliable, easy to use system, they’ll improvise insecure and hard-to-manage solutions.
Version control becomes a nightmare too, while security can be compromised by staff setting easy-to-remember ‘p455w0rd5’ that are just as easy to guess.
The modern employee usually has plenty of ways to talk with their colleagues, but complexity can often reign here, too. Emails are no use when it’s urgent, and not everybody responds to chat. When you’re not sure where and when someone’s working, it can be hard to pick the right time for a phone call. And let’s face it, everybody is over Zoom.
Discussing file sharing and communication separately hints at a subtle, but potentially bigger frustration to collaboration in the distributed enterprise. Particularly in iterative processes such as content production, it’s vital that comments, markup and other feedback remain pegged to the actual work they relate to.
Getting in line – why comments need context
It’s 8:30am and you’re reviewing video edits and notes made overnight by a colleague in the LA office. Instead of a collaborative platform, you’ve got an email with a WeTransfer link and a series of bullet points.
Once you’ve downloaded the edit and checked it’s the right version, you’re left hunting for time codes so you can digest the feedback – if you’re lucky. If not, you’ll be struggling with cryptic notes like ‘Suggest we cut away from dumpster visible as camera pans across street.’ Which street? Which dumpster? What?
As businesses adjust to working permanently in hybrid and flexible ways, it’s clear that substandard tools and improvised workflows won’t do. To deliver their best, creatives, marketers and everyone involved in asset production and distribution need frictionless sharing, and effortless communication.
Strong asset management benefits help accelerate and simplify enterprise workflows. Powerful search features help teams zero in on what they need, saving the time of hunting for files or duplicating lost assets. Automatic notifications mean people in a workflow automatically know when it’s flowing, while version management prevents the pitfalls of them sharing or working on the wrong file.
ECS pulls essential workflow communication right into the workflow itself. Team members can use collaboration tools to chat and comment in the same environment where they share assets, ensuring that conversations and ideas are held alongside the assets they relate to. Freelancers, contributors and other agencies can be brought right into the fold – without having to find them a seat in the office. And workflows can be adapted to include clients, accelerating the to and fro of laborious approvals.
Communicate, collaborate and accelerate
Time-coded comments on videos mean you can understand feedback exactly in context. Image annotations mean you can write ‘Sharpen this’, rather than ‘Sharpen the boundary between the text and colour block on the right side of the second red area’. Just as importantly, easy overview of file and asset versions along with their notes help accelerate the review and approval process, removing frustrations, and allowing the work to keep rolling when contributors or editors are unavailable.
With smoother sharing and better communication, teams can work more fluidly. Now, the workflow can adapt to staff working different hours, or in a different timezone. In short, enterprise collaboration software lets the work flex with the workforce, leading to less time wasted, fewer mistakes, and faster iterations means that productivity booms. So, marketers can slash the time to market for campaigns. Creatives can work more closely with clients, agencies or freelancers – and simplify the management of complex iteration and approval cycles.
Hybrid working is undoubtedly the future for knowledge industries. But using it to your advantage means having the tools to support distributed staff, working variable hours. However you plan to empower employees to do their best, make sure enterprise collaboration software is at the heart of it.