Antti Nivala is Founder and CEO of M-Files, a global leader in information management.
The impact of hybrid and remote work remains a top concern for many business leaders. Can you trust your employees to work remotely? Will they be able to maintain collaboration and communication effectively? Should you consider a return-to-office mandate? These are just a few questions keeping business leaders up at night amid today’s employee productivity paranoia.
However, despite leaders such as Amazon, Zoom and JPMorgan Chase requiring employees to return to the office, enterprises can still benefit from flexible remote and hybrid working arrangements.
The key to success? Leveraging automation.
Productivity remains critically important to growth and profitability, especially in times of economic uncertainty. While many companies have reaped the rewards of transforming various aspects of their business, knowledge work was often an afterthought. Queue the start of the employee productivity paranoia, as knowledge workers struggled to share information and collaborate on critical documents in a secure, seamless manner.
While the migration back to the office may seem like a viable solution, enterprises are failing to recognize the benefit that automation can have in helping employees thrive in a hybrid environment. Automation can help organizations flourish, giving knowledge workers the ability to work smarter and more efficiently.
Enable Employees To Focus On High-Value Deliverables
Just because basic tasks need to be completed doesn’t mean a highly skilled, highly paid knowledgeable worker needs to do it. Employees have more important things to focus on than creating frequently used documents from scratch or searching through old emails trying to uncover a piece of long-lost information. Since employees’ job satisfaction hinges on the fulfillment they get out of their work, it’s beneficial to minimize the time spent on tasks that underutilize their skills and talents.
Knowledge workers work best in a state of flow where they can be creative, think freely and problem-solve. Automation enables knowledge workers to have the freedom to work productively and effectively, maintaining stimulation and engagement. Organizations should look to automate the mechanics of creating and saving documents, managing access rights and searching for information, which breaks the knowledge worker’s flow. By identifying and automating such tasks, knowledge workers can better enjoy their jobs.
To get that process started, organizations first need to identify and allocate resources for the work. Does someone already own information governance across departments? How are the various document repositories managed? Once the ownership and current process have been determined, organizations can start to take stock of the automation opportunities available. For example, what are the most common types of documents employees create, and could any of those be turned into templates? Similarly, how are certain documents stored and secured, and could those practices be standardized and enforced through technology?
Say Goodbye To Information Chaos
Information is the foundation of an organization’s success. It is the lifeline that supports continuous innovation, fueling employees to successfully deliver projects and scale the business. However, finding the information needed to support value-adding initiatives can be challenging with data scattered across multiple systems and no single source of authority.
To overcome information chaos, organizations need to understand what kind of information exists across various systems and start establishing methods to govern that information. Examining the current folder structures and cataloging the types of documents stored in them can be a helpful starting point in the journey. Additionally, applying an information management solution that connects the data across the repositories can enable organizations to gain a holistic view of their data and classify that data according to its type and business context.
The ability to simply define a document and identify what it is related to automates the organization of data. By appropriately defining a document, organizations can gain the ability to surface information according to departmental, team or personal preferences. When knowledge workers spend less time searching for the information they need, enterprises can better access the intellectual capital that helps win deals and deliver value faster.
Simplify Risk And Compliance Efforts
Automation can play a huge role in helping organizations ensure compliance and reduce business risk. By automating security policies, organizations can reduce the time-consuming aspect associated with manually setting permissions to seamlessly create document access and permission requirements that comply with the needs of the business.
Organizations should set permissions based on document type, workflow state, user role, project or other criteria with business relevance and then reevaluate permissions frequently as employees change roles and workflows evolve. This can help businesses rest assured that only the right people have access to sensitive information and reduce the probability of a data breach.
With automation, enterprises can also embed compliance controls directly into their daily work to automatically generate the evidence needed for audits. Automated audit trails can eliminate human neglect, reduce the amount of employee labor required, and ensure data treatment, retention and archival is done properly by simply defining and enforcing company policy, standards and regulatory controls. With instant audit trail visibility across all information, businesses can simplify confidential data governance across the organization.
Automation can empower employees to thrive in a rapidly evolving world. It is the golden ticket to unburden knowledge workers from repetitive, tangential tasks. Ask yourself, are you leveraging automation in a manner that helps employees work smarter and harness the power of information?