How to Encourage Mobile Workers to Actually Use Collaboration Tools

    Businesses who enable collaboration across their enterprise – by rolling out tools or cultivating a culture that values it – will likely be rewarded with productivity gains – and more.

    As author Tammy Erickson wrote in the Harvard Business Review: “Collaborative technologies have the potential to shift the way we interact with people on our teams, find external expertise when it’s needed, and share ideas and observations more broadly.”

    At ShoreTel, we're seeing there's a strong incentive among businesses to improve adoption rates of collaboration tools. Because not only does this imply productivity gains, it means that collaboration can generate ideas and identify opportunities, making a business more competitive.

    Yet even as companies roll out collaboration tools, adoption is sometimes slow, especially among mobile workers. Perhaps old habits stand in the way of their use, or maybe the workers simply aren’t aware of the new capabilities at their fingertips.

    To build awareness and change habits, think about applying some old-fashioned marketing strategies. Whether you’re about to roll out a new set of collaboration tools or looking to encourage your mobile workforce to harness the ones they already have, try these five tactics to foster engagement.

    Create An Ambassador Program

    Find the early adopters in your enterprise and give them first access to the tools. Actively seek their feedback and address any issues they raise. This establishes a sense of ownership, which will build enthusiasm. If early adopters have a stake in the rollout, they’ll be passionate advocates and more likely to talk up the tools to colleagues. Once they’re on board, enable their efforts by providing them with talking points and materials.

    Develop An Awareness Campaign  

    By definition, mobile workers aren’t “in the house.” Thus, it’s essential to conduct a multi-faceted campaign that reaches employees no matter where they are. Think beyond the traditional posters and email blasts. Innovative marketing tactics designed specifically to reach the mobile workforce are likely to be more effective. For example, use channels that they’re already comfortable with, such as text messaging and voicemail.

    Offer Training

    While training will naturally be part of your rollout plan, remember to provide mobile workers with easy access to on-demand learning. In-person or scheduled training sessions often don’t work with their calendars, and some mobile workers will miss – or over time forget – the details. Thus, they should have continuous access to learning tools.

    While the standard on-demand instructional video is useful, consider other ways to engage your mobile workers. Putting the tools in the context of their day can be transformative. To do this, spend time shadowing one of your mobile workers and record how she uses collaboration tools along the way. Post the video on your intranet and drive internal traffic by promoting it through email, chat and voicemail. More than a few mobile workers are likely to say, “I didn’t know it could do that!”

    Deliver Daily or Weekly Tips

    Take a hint from Apple and other app developers: Automatically push tips to users about how to better use their tools. As the user experience becomes more cohesive and fluid, useful functionality can get overlooked or forgotten. But a regular reminder – in the form of a “Did You Know” tip – can go a long way toward educating users. Deliver the tips via email or text message, and experiment with the frequency. Weekly tips likely won’t overwhelm users, and daily tips can be unobtrusive if featured on the home page of your intranet.

    Give Incentives  

    Let’s face it: Incentives are motivating. Try offering gift cards to mobile workers who run 10 successful virtual meetings within the first three months. Contests are another effective way to attract attention. One option is to hold a scavenger hunt. The first team to “find” collaboration features and incorporate all of them into their workflow wins a prize. It’s not only fun, but also can build loyalty and excitement as users try out the tools and see the benefits for themselves.

    These are just a few ideas. There are plenty more that can be adapted from the marketing playbook to drive adoption rates. Remember, it takes time to raise awareness and change behavior. But the effort will be worth it when collaboration soars.

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