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The pandemic has had a major impact on the workplace. We’re beginning to see the end of it now, and one thing is clear: The new workplace will be very different from the old one.
The most obvious effect of COVID-19 on the labor force is the dramatic increase in remote workers. McKinsey analyzed more than 2,000 tasks from more than 800 occupations in nine countries to assess how much remote work might continue after the pandemic.
Taking into account only remote work that does not lead to productivity losses, McKinsey found that about 20-25% of workers in advanced economies can work remotely between three and five days a week. This is four to five times more remote work than before the pandemic.
Changes Are Coming to the Office as Remote Work Becomes the Norm
Workers may not want to come back to the office. In fact, the majority of the workforce says they would like to continue working from home, at least weekly. According to surveys conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, 80% of the workforce wants to work from home, and over a third would take a pay cut in exchange for the option. “The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not likely to go back in,” the report says.
When employees (or some of them, that is) return to the office, it will look different from before. There will be a move away from single desks in favor of group work areas, enhancing creativity, teamwork and productivity. Teams, flexibility and collaboration will be the focus, with individual tasks being assigned to the home office.
As thousands of employees have adapted to working from home, the traditional office environment may not have a place in the new normal. Organizations will adopt a much more flexible approach, allowing staff to work half the week from home, for example, and half the week in the office. If carried out correctly, the open office combined with work-from-home could be a game-changer for many companies.
The Co-Authoring Advantage
Success today (and tomorrow) will require the ability to make remote working a strength, and to leverage team collaboration and document management as distinctive organizational skills. Document co-authoring is an important place to start.
For any business today, the document creation process is among the most important activities and certainly the most comprehensive, encompassing nearly everything: internal communications, customer relations, sales, legal compliance and much more.
For large enterprises, managing highly complex, high-stakes documents such as proposals, contracts or regulatory submissions is a challenge that is exacerbated by the fact that many teams work remotely. Often, only a few hours before the deadline, authors and stakeholders struggle to assemble the correct content, elements and drafts into an effective final product.
We can do better than this. Business document creation can — and should — be one of the skills that place the organization ahead of its competition. Document co-authoring tools and strategies help you get your creation process on track. This is especially important now that businesses are being compelled to rethink their workflow and business model.
Let’s explore three key characteristics of a good co-authoring solution.
1. True Collaboration Capabilities
While many popular systems work well for sharing files and video conferencing, they are less effective for co-authoring. In addition to assembling data and teams, the challenge is also to output information in the form of highly polished, high-impact documents. This process involves a wide variety of content and people across the organization. Although it’s easy to share a few files and set up a Zoom call, in reality, creating and co-authoring large, complex and highly polished documents can still be a huge pain.
Document co-authoring improves team performance on a fundamental level. You can work and collaborate on documents from anywhere. You have full visibility and control over changes being made and what information is used, as well as the layout, accuracy and effectiveness of every element. You can also assign tasks to team members and create workflows, combining collaboration capabilities with process management for maximum efficiency, effectiveness and advantage.
2. Central Content Repository
Co-authoring also has the advantage of using a central document repository, where all documents and content can be managed in one place. Consequently, information is always up-to-date and secure, and is reflected across the entire organization in real time. At any point along the creation process, anyone working on the document will have access (if permission is granted) to all of the tables, macros and forms that are included in the finished document.
In comparison to common desktop tools and ad hoc workarounds, this approach can save you time and effort and improve quality. A central content repository ensures consistency and security across an organization, while allowing for the information agility and virtual collaboration needed to be most effective in present-day business.
3. Openness and Control
The right mix of openness and control is crucial. Collaboration and teamwork are essential, but so is the need for control over privacy and security. Openness is the ability to share information and collaborate easily, and encourage that interaction across the organization. Control is the ability to restrict and monitor access to private and sensitive information according to the context, the content and the compliance requirements.
In highly regulated and global operations, mission-critical documents such as proposals, engineering contracts and regulatory submissions can easily exceed hundreds of pages. Openness is essential because content elements come from a variety of systems and sources. Control is vital because different contributors need different access and permission levels. Integration with other core systems helps ensure that content is accessible, accurate and easy to find when you need it.
As economies and countries start to recover, document co-authoring emerges as a distinct competitive advantage and a corporate collaboration skill. In the next decade, team collaboration will be one of the most important factors contributing to business success. A new breed of collaboration tools is changing the way we work.
Businesses that embrace these tools and actively work to leverage 21st-century collaboration as an essential organizational skill will reap the rewards: better knowledge sharing, improved speed and productivity of workers, and easier execution of ideas and innovations. In this way, a company can get an edge over its competitors by harnessing the power of the right collaboration tools.
To accomplish this, work with providers and partners who have the right expertise, vision, and capability to help you transform your document creation process and win more business.
Kris Saether is chief commercial officer of Xait. With more than 20 years of experience in the information management industry, he is responsible for Xait’s new business, for both XaitPorter and XaitCPQ. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.
This thought leadership article was sponsored by Xait.
XaitPorter is the benchmark team co-authoring and automation software solution. Ideal for complex tenders, proposals and reports. Implemented by major corporations around the world.