How has Workplace Collaboration changed Post-COVID


While Collaboration had already become part of mainstream tech stack in most companies before COVID, the post-COVID work place has seen the biggest change in how employees get their shared work done today.

In the past,collaboration enablement meant having a conference tool like WebEx or Zoom to connect remotely located employees to their in-office colleagues. Today, collaboration tools must be able to share much more than just a voice and a screen. There has been an explosion in the number of tools that are available in the marketplace for facilitation of this need. Tools that had a middling level of success such as WebEx have suddenly seen their market share grow exponentially. This trend is expected to grow as we continue to moveinto2022andbeyond.

Employees have found that the flexibility on offer with these collaboration tools has squarely placed the responsibility of creating the work-life balance on them. More and more employers have come to realize that most if not all of their employees will choose to remain remote and may never opt to come back to their offices fulltime.

With this in mind, the employers have to contend with the hard questions of what strategy can they opt for when it comes collaboration while ensuring that their sensitive content, which is the life blood of their business, continue store mains ecure. Here are some of these hard questions:

  1. What is the content management strategy overall? How do you balance security vs ease of collaboration?
  2. What tools need to be consolidated? How do you make the tools from different vendors work better together?
  3. What policies and classification strategy needs to be in place to ensure that guardrails may remain in place while employees continue to get their work done with effective collaboration?
  4. Compliance concerns have not changed with COVID and workplace changes that have taken place with employees working remotely. What are the ways in which compliance can be addressed without hindering much needed collaboration?
  5. What are some of the Data and Content Governance strategies that will have to be re-visited in a Post-COVID world with GDPR and CCPA looming large?

These constitute only some of the questions that Information Technology groups across industries are asking and while answers to these questions never had the level of urgency attached to them before COVID, a Post-COVID world is demanding answers to these questions urgently and vociferously.

Bearing in mind that every industry and silo will have differences in their approaches to answer these questions, let’s make an attempt to answer these questions.

The answer to the first question of balancing security vs ease of collaboration is the simplest. Security has to be built in. It cannot be bolted on to any process, workflow or tool. If it is not built with the tool, it will decidedly not be able to protect the content in that process or tool. The only way to balance the two diametrically opposed goals is to build security in and not to bolt it on as an afterthought. If anyone is considering a tool for content and collaboration management that does not have built in security management then that is a non-starter. Not only does the security have to be built in to the tool of choice,it also has to be flexible enough to play well with tools such as CASB and gateway management

in the techstack. Any development that is done in-house has to ensure that security is front and center before the first line of code is written.

Second question relates to Consolidation and Integration. Here,the consensus in the market place seems to be veering in the direction of best of breed. The biggest feature of any best of breed tool today is the ability to integrate with other tools in the tech stack. The absence of such integration can be detrimental to the health and operation of any workflow since no process or workflow, no matter how simple, can rely on one piece of software for end-to-end completion. Consolidation will have to play a part here as well since there will be tools that maybe able to offer up multiple capabilities but there will have to be give and take of functionality and security so consolidation has to be very targeted and cannot be expected to blanket a whole organization with one vendor or one tool.

Policies and Classifications setting is another piece of the puzzle since employees will be expected to work on sensitive content just the same way they did when they were physically in the office and on the safe and secure world of intranet. Now they are expected to access, work on and collaborate on the same sensitive content from software that maybe in the cloud and over the internet. Every IT organization will be expected to work with all the different arms of the organization, be it legal, HR,compliance, marketing and sales, engineering etc. to ensure that content is clearly defined and categorized. The complexity will come from the fact that this is not going to happen just once. It will infact, have to continue to be done as content will continue to be generated and put to use across organizations.

Compliance, especially with new regulations like GDPR and CCPA coming into the picture, will continue to keep IT resources up at night. No reasonable person can expect to have all their employees trained on handling sensitive or IP content correctly all the time. Guardrails will have to be in place, and they will have to be enforced. It is important to ensure that these guardrails remain in place to help people make good decisions and not to hinder their collaboration or working capability with others inside and outside the org.

In Conclusion, a comprehensive analysis, review and decision making exercise which was overdue Pre-COVID has now become a demand that is urgent in every organization when it comes to content and collaboration on that very content.

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