Transcription

making sense of theconnected worldSix Steps to MakingRemote Working Workfor Your BusinessA guide forempoweringemployeesand customersduring Covid-19and beyond1

Covid-19 Is Forcing Change on Every BusinessThese are difficult times for businesses.The rapid shift to a fully remote working model in thewake of Covid-19 has been hard, even for those businessesthat previously supported employees sometimes workingfrom home. IT departments have had to make sure everyemployee has a secure, connected device they can workfrom, and that they can access the tools and applicationsthey need for work.Employees are learning how to work together remotelyas a team, how to be productive and how to manageand support their teams when they are not co-located.Everyone has their own trials, from finding a quiet place towork in a full home, to home-schooling children, lookingafter family members, or simply coping with an unnervingand disorienting situation.The challenge for businesses now is how to make thebest of the current situation, to remain agile, minimizerisk, and keep their workforce productive and engaged.However, this is also an opportunity for businesses tolay the foundations for their own transformation, to takeadvantage of the flux that is already affecting how wework.Enterprise collaboration provider Slack is a great exampleof a company that is thriving thanks to its culture, itsprocesses and working practices — and its channelbased messaging platform for helping teams work moreeffectively.Slack Rides the Wave of Remote WorkOn 7 March 2020, as Covid-19 began to spread beyondAsia into Europe and North America, Slack made thedecision to direct all employees to work from homeuntil further notice. Over 2,000 employees, of which97% were office-based, needed to transition to remoteworking overnight.At the same time, usage of its collaboration platformwas spiking as businesses struggled with their ownbusiness continuity challenges. Slack added 9,000 newpaid customers in seven weeks, compared with 5,000per quarter for the previous two quarters. Customersupport requests and online help centre usage surged,underlined by a new urgency as organizations soughtto help teams stay productive while working remotely.Despite all the changes it faced, Slack ably handledthe growth in demand for the platform and forcustomer support, while accelerating the rollout of new capabilities, and continuing hiring andonboarding new staff, all in a purely remote capacity.In this report, we outline six recommendations designedto help organizations struggling with the shift to remoteworking. With learnings and insights courtesy of Slack’sstory, these recommendations aim to help you remainagile and productive, while also providing a strategicframework for your long-term success post Covid-19.CCS INSIGHT REPORT June 20201

Slack Relies on Slack toGet Work DoneStep 1:Provide a Central, CollaborativePlace to Get Work DoneThe primary step for any business in supporting remote work is to provide acentral place where all your people, tools and information can come together,so teams can get approvals, share the latest documents and data, and turnconversations into decisions. Many organizations still rely on e-mail and toolsdesigned for personal rather than team productivity, and the limitations ofthese are amplified in a remote working scenario.Cloud-based team collaboration platforms help overcome inbox siloes,creating a more open, transparent work environment where teams cancommunicate and work more efficiently and productively. These tools organizeconversations around projects, topics and teams, creating a record of alldiscussions and decisions, and supporting synchronous and asynchronouscommunication. Despite gaining momentum in the market in recent years, theyhave often been categorized as nice-to-have, requiring a certain mindset withinorganizations and an appetite for business change. However, the impact ofCovid-19 means these tools are fast becoming a business-critical requirementfor work enablement and should be considered as a cornerstone of yourbusiness continuity programme.It is no surprise that Slack is a committeduser of its channel-based messaging platform,and the company points to this as being atthe heart of its success in transitioning tocompany-wide remote working.There is no internal e-mail use at thecompany; all communication takes placeon Slack.Slack’s workforce uses the platform for all itsactivities, with channels for teams, projects,corporate communications, knowledgesharing, social groups, account management,customer and partner engagement.Because this way of working was alreadywell-established and embedded in Slack’sprocesses, it provided a foundation formaintaining operations as the companyshifted into full remote working.At Slack, all work happens inchannels. You never get ane-mail from someone insidethe company.Tamar YehoshuaChief Product Officer, SlackCCS INSIGHT REPORT June 20202

Transparency and EmpathyUnderpin Slack’s CompanyCultureStep 2:Be Open and Transparentin Communication andDecision-MakingIt is important for business leadersand management to maintain aregular cadence of clear and opencommunication with employees togive them confidence and reassurance,allowing them to focus on the job at hand.The nature of the Covid-19 pandemic,combined with the speed of changeto remote working and the addedcomplexities of personal circumstance,has resulted in huge uncertainty foremployees in all businesses about whatis expected of them, how long they needto work this way, what this means for thefuture of their employer and their rolewithin the organization.Employee engagement and wellbeing has never been so important,and communications and HR leadersmust play a pivotal role in ensuring theworkforce is able to move forward in aproductive way.CCS INSIGHT REPORT June 2020Transparency in leadershipdecisions and empathy for othersare key principles in Slack’s culture,reinforced by a commitment tocommunicate openly and honestly.Following the move to remotework, leaders were quick to reassureemployees that no jobs were at risk,and the company was in fact stillhiring to meet customer demand.Leaders openly acknowledged theuncharted nature of the situation;that everyone was learning as theywent along, and it was difficult to beproductive all the time.The internal communications teamlaunched several programmes toensure staff received the informationthey needed as quickly as possible,creating new Slack channels tocapture questions and concerns.Guides and checklists were createdand shared with employees andmanagers to help them cope withthe changing situation.With everyone working remotely,its platform has now becomeeven more important for socialinteraction at Slack, as colleaguesask each other how they arefeeling and connect on a personallevel. Emojis are used extensively,providing valuable non-verbalcommunication, for example usingthe eyes emoji to indicate thatthe person has seen a request toreview a document, and a greencheck emoji to signify the request iscomplete.New channels like #remote-bestpractices have been created to fueldiscussions, develop ideas and sharetips, offering a more intentional andstructured vehicle to replace thespontaneous discussions that takeplace in an office environment. Peergroups across the company havealso morphed into more formalizednetworks to help share bestpractices and tips.The company’s existing use ofnon-work channels — such as#parents and #dadjokes — has beenreinforced during lockdown, helpingstaff find some normality, lightheartedness and camaraderie.3

Security at SlackSecurity is a key priority for Slack, and thecompany had already enabled a range ofsecurity provisions prior to the pandemic tokeep its employees and equipment safe onuntrusted networks.Measures included controlling thesecurity settings on all corporate employeeequipment (and to a lesser extent on personaldevices used under bring-your-own-devicepolicies), constantly monitoring laptops ina 24x7 security rotation, running currentantivirus software and requiring two-factorauthentication on all services used byemployees and administrators.Step 3:Prioritize secure remote workingProviding a way to connect your employees is the first step in the transitionto remote work, but it is also critical to prioritize security as part of aremote working solution, to ensure your employees and your organizationare fully protected.Traditional, perimeter-based security models that secure everything withinthe corporate network are well-suited to office-based working whenemployees are connected to the network and using corporate devices.However, with people now working from home, often on personal devicesand on home or public networks, traditional security models are nolonger effective. The potential attack surface for the business is suddenlydramatically bigger and is compounded by lower visibility or awareness ofpotential security breaches due to already-overstretched IT resources.In response to the pandemic, the companyis accelerating planned changes to end-pointprotections, including deploying solutions tobetter enforce use of compliant equipmentwhen connecting to software-as-a-servicesolutions, and is also investigating servicesthat could improve employee experienceswhen working on home networks.With cyberattacks accelerating amid the Covid-19 crisis, it is vital to payattention to security features such as encryption, multifactor authenticationand end-point management, and ensure security policies are enabled forall your employees.CCS INSIGHT REPORT June 20204

Step 4:Integrate Digital WorkplaceTools to Improve the EmployeeExperienceThe lack of integration between tools is one of the biggest obstacles toworkplace productivity. Employees need access to many different tools toget their work done, from line-of-business tools such as CRM and financeapplications, to collaboration and productivity tools like Zoom or MicrosoftOffice 365, or corporate applications like travel booking or performancemanagement. Switching between tools is immensely counterproductive,interrupting employees’ concentration and creating friction in their workflow.CCS Insight’s research shows that 40% of employees are frustrated withthe amount of switching between applications, and 46% feel there isinadequate integration between the work applications they use.1 In a remoteworking scenario in which employeesmay be using personal devices toaccess business tools, this friction ismagnified.40%Collaboration platforms enableorganizations to integrate differentapplications and their associatedprocesses directly into the teamcollaboration environment, creatinga single, central hub for work. Thisallows employees to interact witha multitude of applications, suchas requesting status updates onsales opportunities, creating helpdesk tickets or joining video meetings without leaving their collaborationapplication. This integrated approach dramatically improves the experiencefor employees, reducing the time and concentration lost by switchingbetween applications, allowing them to focus on getting their work donemore effectively. It also significantly improves adoption of the collaborationtool by making it the primary place for all work-based activities.of employeesare frustratedby applicationswitching at work1Source: CCS Insight Employee Workplace Technology Survey 2019CCS INSIGHT REPORT June 20205

Bringing People, Tools and ProcessesTogether on SlackAlthough its platform is the hub of work at Slack, thecompany relies on a multitude of cloud-based applicationsto enable its business processes and integrates these intoits Slack channels as “apps”.Current apps used at Slack include communicationsand productivity tools such as Zoom and G Suite, as wellas line-of-business applications such as Atlassian Jira,Salesforce and Workday. There are more than 2,200 appsin Slack’s App Directory.One app that has become particularly valuable for Slackduring the pandemic is Donut. This helps introducecolleagues who do not know each other, creating newconnections across the business to help team bonding andcross-department introductions.“Slack’s not specifically a work from home tool; it’s more of a create organizational agility tool.But an all-at-once transition to remote work creates a lot of demand for organizational agility.”Stewart Butterfield CEO and co-founder, SlackCCS INSIGHT REPORT June 20206

Step 5:Automate Repetitive Processesto Streamline WorkAn untapped opportunity for improving productivity inany workforce — remote or otherwise — is to automatethe multitude of simple, repetitive tasks that absorb soSlack’s Workflow Builder AllowsNon-Technical Users to CreateCustom WorkflowsWorkflow Builder is a visual tool in Slackthat enables users to turn processes intoautomated workflows. These workflowsinclude message-based triggers and actions,and do not require technical knowledge tocreate.much of an employee’s day. Examples include notifyingcolleagues when a document is created, uploadinge-mail attachments to a shared file store, or requestingfeedback or approvals from colleagues. Automating thesesmall but time-consuming activities allows employees tofocus on more valuable and rewarding tasks, improvingtheir productivity while also significantly enhancing theiremployee experience.Slack uses Workflow Builder extensively inits internal deployment, with workflows forinternal approval processes for travel andexpenses, daily stand-up update remindersand feedback requests, as well as a workflowthat automatically shares Zoom meeting notesinto the relevant channel. The company hascreated multiple templates, including specificexamples for remote work2 and has sharedthese for customers to take advantage of.These types of tasks would have been too small and adhoc for traditional workflow technologies, but the newwave of no-code and low-code workflow tools providesa platform for non-technical users to create their ownpersonal