The key to thriving in today’s digitally immersive workspaces

by Gene Farrell

Recent months have seen a massive shift to remote work as part of the broad range of long-term mitigation strategies organizations are implementing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this shift, businesses are diving headlong into digital immersion, leaning in on technology in an attempt to support employees working from home and to keep business moving forward. 

A survey of enterprise professionals conducted by 451 Research, a division of S&P Global Market Intelligence, and commissioned by Smartsheet, found that 51% of organizations anticipate increased usage of team collaboration tools, 39% foresee increased usage of email, and 23% expect increased usage of content and storage sharing tools.*

451 Research statistics

Yet increased usage of these tools are not without their challenges. Many digital tools are causing productivity challenges for the workforce: 68% face distractions from too many voice, video, messaging, and email conversations; 64% don’t have the tools to quickly build and easily adapt new business processes, workflows, or project designs; and 52% don’t have the right mix of tools to be effective.* 

Add to this increased security threats due to distributed teams and rapidly scaling technology usage, and it’s easy to see why many organizations are struggling to find the right approach and the right tools to make sure their employees stay productive and engaged. In fact, only 23% of organizations are prepared to win in the new world of work.  

451 Research

While leading organizations are prepared and ready to meet the challenges of the current moment head-on, 37% of companies were caught off-guard by the crisis, but are confident that they can take the right steps toward organizational effectiveness. In order to step up, these organizations need to adopt a secure, scalable collaborative work management (CWM) platform that satisfies the requirements of information technology decision-makers (ITDMs) and empowers their employees to thrive.

Mitigate security threats

Not surprisingly, ITDMs say their biggest concern going forward is security threats.

A more distributed workforce, the rapid implementation of new tools, increased use of existing technologies, and remote onboarding and offboarding of employees are all factors that introduce vulnerabilities and increase risk to organizations. 

Add to those factors accelerated digital transformations, new policies and practices being introduced, shifting business priorities, and evolving relationships with customers and partners across your supply chain, and it’s no wonder that IT leaders are focusing even more on security:

  • ITDM’s biggest concern going forward is security threats (48%), followed by deploying new or existing technologies at scale (37%).

  • 53% say current IT systems are not equipped to handle the requirements of new post-COVID policies.

  • Going forward, ITDMs believe that tools they adopt should: support cross-functional collaboration, easily and widely integrate with other apps, and help them quickly build and adapt a new business workflow or project design. 

In addition, these leaders see a growing need for visibility around workloads so that businesses can manage resources more effectively, and foster improved reporting on the status and progress of important projects and work.

Deploy new or existing technologies at scale

After security, ITDMs are most concerned about deploying new or existing tools and technologies at scale. This isn’t a shock, though it speaks to the integral relationship IT leaders need to have with their respective procurement teams and a secure seat at the table with business leaders. 

Instead of enabling software platforms that create unnecessary redundancy, it’s crucial to think long-term when supporting employees. This can include providing best-in-class collaboration tools that give employees agency to create and manage their own workflows that integrate with your core enterprise applications. 

Ultimately, ITDMs need to invest in technologies that eliminate silos—even more prevalent during remote work arrangements—and empower people to easily share information across teams. These crucial decision-makers need to be proactive about unifying their entire enterprise, in a way that makes sense for their business and to create a consistent employee experience. In order to do so, it’s important for the software platforms your organization uses to connect your key business systems. 

Solving for these common pain points is often a tremendous undertaking. Through the Smartsheet CWM platform, you can take steps toward improving transparency into work, and not lose sleep over security. In fact, the director of IT at Miller & Long, a large concrete construction company, found that using Smartsheet to digitally transform its operations from an on-prem file-tree system led to enhanced security and privacy around business-critical data.

Seamlessly integrate across key systems

Integration is key to centralized collaboration and productivity: 43% say integrations across their key systems would strongly improve productivity.* This is a compelling theme across all industries at the moment, as remote work exacerbates IT leaders’ struggles with the decentralized nature of multiple platforms, apps, and technologies that do not seamlessly integrate.

It’s imperative that organizations seize the opportunity to empower their employees to adopt a CWM platform that: integrates across key systems and apps, can be deployed at scale, and is secure by design to ensure that your data is protected. Ultimately, the platform you choose needs to be adaptable, empowering, and collaborative. 

SailPoint, a leading company in the identity governance space, discovered just that. They integrated Smartsheet with multiple enterprise platforms and apps, such as Slack, to speed up IT and support ticket resolutions. Paired with the automation capabilities of Smartsheet, they were able to spend less time on repetitive, manual tasks and instead work in more strategic, business-critical roles.

To ensure that your people can collaborate more effectively using a single source of truth, Smartsheet boasts numerous Integrations with popular enterprise applications and software such as Google Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Jira, Adobe Creative Cloud, Salesforce, and many more. We also just released Bridge, our brand new no-code automation engine that automates multi-step, cross-platform processes between Smartsheet and systems of record, such as customer relation management (CRM) platforms. 

451 Research statistics

Empower your dynamic workforce

Many organizations in every industry are rethinking existing systems and processes, from digitizing paper-based workflows to embracing automation to free employees up to focus on higher-value—and more fulfilling—projects. 

When it comes to streamlining workflows, process improvement, and innovation—all fantastic goals for companies looking to gain a competitive edge—it’s important to give people a solution flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing demands of today’s work. The platform needs to evolve alongside the nature and scale of any project or initiative, regardless of the organizational, departmental, or functional need. 

Smartsheet is an enterprise-grade platform that can adapt to the changing needs of dynamic work. Whether that’s through Connectors and Integrations, Control Center, or premium add-ons, we’re always adding new capabilities that evolve the product to suit the needs of our customers. 

Next, the CWM platform you adopt needs to empower everyone at your organization to design solutions that make sense for their processes, and work in the way that they need to remain productive and effective. 

Smartsheet helps make this a reality: Our intuitive, no-code platform empowers our customers to create the right tool for the dynamic work at hand and automate steps, as needed—without burdening IT with the extra work of building customized solutions.  

For example, an IT project lead can manage a multi-year undertaking, such as migrating on-prem data centers to the cloud, using sheets, dashboards, reporting, and automation rules that alert stakeholders when any item is ready for review. This helps ensure rapid response to and visibility into project status. One of our customers—who worked as IT project lead at Sabra at the time— even used Smartsheet for the network upgrades process, making it easy for just one IT team member to manage the whole project.

Finally, Smartsheet is a single platform that connects everyone on your team—and can help unify your entire organization, no matter its size. Whatever the demands of dynamic work, you can use the platform to bring together the right people, at the right time, wherever they are, so everyone can collaborate transparently and execute at speed.

The leading platform for dynamic work

According to 451 Research, employees are adjusting very differently to the new work world, falling into three categories: “high achievers”, “keeping it together”, “and tough timers”. 

Organizations that are Leaders are early technology adopters that consider the impacts on workforce productivity when implementing their digital transformation. As a result, employees that are “high achievers”—ones who report being more engaged and more productive since the crisis began—typically work for Leaders. 

You’ll want to meet your employees, wherever they are, so they can reimagine the path to productivity while being effective and engaged. With Smartsheet, you can empower your people, no matter which group they belong to:

  • Accelerate your “high achievers”: Empower this cohort with a platform to improve their own effectiveness at work. Let them keep work moving by automating workflows with easy-to-configure rules. Give them the ability to make decisions faster and rapidly adapt to changing conditions with real-time visibility into critical data in Smartsheet dashboards and reports. 

  • Motivate those “keeping it together”: Help these employees become “high achievers” and be more engaged with their teams with a platform that enables them to have visibility across their team’s work, keep everyone focused and aligned, and boost morale. Enable the true collaboration and transparency teams need to keep work moving and achieve better outcomes. 

  • Elevate your “tough timers”: Embrace the challenges these employees are struggling with on the path toward “high achievers” with a platform that moves them beyond collaboration tools to stay focused and move work forward. Eliminate silos and bring together people, data, conversations, content, and solutions in one central location. When you give everyone a clear view into work, they become more informed, engaged, and accountable.

The best way to empower your employees to be more effective is to give them the tools that let them actually get their work done, and the opportunity to focus on the things that matter most. 

Once companies activate this possibility by adopting a CWM platform that scales, they’ll unlock the potential of their employees—no matter where they work—and set themselves up to win and execute with agility in the new world of dynamic work. 

*Source: Based on a survey of enterprise professionals conducted by 451 Research, a division of S&P Global Market Intelligence, and commissioned by Smartsheet in May 2020. The survey was conducted by 451 Research among a sample of 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.