Become a collaboration champion: Learn from Europe’s IT leaders

by Jenny Gruening

COVID-19 has re-written the rules of business. Remote or hybrid working is now the norm for many, leaving any semblance of a work-life balance difficult to maintain. Huge strategic decisions are being made at kitchen tables, teams are collaborating across countries – and we’ve all become used to seeing children, pets, and partners pop up in video calls. 

Culturally, it’s been a huge shift for everyone. For IT leaders in particular, there are serious challenges still to be overcome – but also clear opportunities to lead the business to a better future. Ultimately, IT leaders recognise that, in a hybrid working world, successful collaboration won’t just happen: They’ll need dedicated strategies and tested solutions. (Not to mention the fact all these solutions need to be secure, scalable, and easy to deploy.)

So, how should IT teams approach the task, with the benefit of a year’s experience behind us? Moving beyond basic communication strategies and facilitating true collaboration should certainly be at the top of the agenda for any IT leader hoping to ensure their business can rise to the challenges of the new normal.

Learn more about how IT fits into the bigger picture by checking out the new, interactive Smartsheet report "Collaboration Beyond Communication."

View the report

Ensuring secure collaboration

Even before lockdown, security considerations were a central concern for IT teams when deploying collaboration tools. Now, with remote or hybrid working commonplace at companies across the world, the number of cyber attacks and breaches has grown. According to one report, more than half (55%) of UK businesses suffered a phishing attack, while over a third (36%) were hit by a ransomware attack – and almost half feel at greater risk than before the pandemic.

“Security is a big topic. Suddenly, people are uploading files from their laptops [and] anything anyone does on their private laptop is connected to us, so we have to check the content of each file before we bring it to our network.”

- An IT Voice in logistics

Emerging or evolving risks include: 

  • Novel cyber threats created or exacerbated by working remotely, such as malicious phishing emails that purport to be an urgent message from a manager
  • A rise in employees using their own devices, more employees deploying software or apps independently, and a lack of IT oversight

Regular IT security training and testing is one effective way for all staff to be up-to-date with emerging cyber threats. But it's equally important that any tools introduced to facilitate collaboration offer industry-leading security and encryption, as businesses continue to make major strategic decisions and work with customer data remotely. 

Governments and essential services, for example, rely on the high level of security offered by Smartsheet – which recently received an authorisation level from the US Department of Defence (DoD) to certify that it meets the US DoD cloud computing security requirements.

Simplify platforms

Ensuring that security is taken care of has always been a task for the IT team. But in the new world of work, IT can also play an active role in building an effective working culture. For example, pressure to be “always-on” is leading to employee burnout and a distracted workforce who feel overwhelmed by too many chats, phone calls, and email conversations. 

Communication is important – but too much can quickly become overkill. And it isn’t always effective. Recent Smartsheet research found that more than half of employees (53%) don't feel like they are “on the same page” as their colleagues, making the need for a comprehensive collaboration platform clear.1 While interviews with our Smart Voices discovered that businesses across Europe are struggling with this issue. 

“[In the office] everyone had the same dynamic; even when talking to teams in another country, we all had the same experience. As everyone now has a different working environment, it has changed how we unify together.”

- An IT Voice in media

IT can minimise this issue by centralising and streamlining chat or video options – and then choosing a collaboration platform that reduces the need to send messages to ensure colleagues aren’t bombarded with noise. Combined with the right security credentials, this means employees can communicate and share files securely while making sure the right eyes are on relevant messages. 

Integration is key

Businesses have introduced platforms that have the ability to handle everything from file sharing, video calling, informal messaging, and much more – and with workers necessarily using more tools and platforms, IT can make life easier by ensuring they’re integrated properly. 

Platform integration offers benefits such as:

  • Giving staff the ability to move fluidly from platform to platform
  • Simplifying the tech stack
  • Facilitating a smoother business-wide roll-out
  • Driving uptake of the relevant tools 
  • Championing collaboration

As the corporate landscape continues to develop and recover from shocks sustained over the past year, those businesses that lead on collaboration will be best placed to take advantage of whatever comes next. Leaders in the IT department have a key role to play in making sure their colleagues can work effectively together, no matter where they’re doing it from. Learn how IT fits into the bigger picture by checking out our interactive report, "Collaboration Beyond Communication."

View the report


Empower Your Dynamic Workforce. This research is based on a survey of enterprise professionals conducted by 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, and commissioned by Smartsheet in May 2020. The survey sample was among 800 U.S. workers at enterprise companies with 1,500+ full time employees and three or more office locations. It was live from April 16 to May 1, 2020.