Bridging the gap between management and front-line teams with the cloud: a guide

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed two things about the managers and front-line teams they lead. First, the relationship between the two is almost entirely dictated by technology – especially cloud-based technologies – in the age of remote work. Second, many companies do not have the technology to keep everyone connected through an unprecedented event like the one we experienced.

When closure orders forced offices to close or start working in radically different ways, it affected the mental health of almost everyone involved. Work has become much more stressful than it used to be, and people have tried to adapt while caring about their health and safety. One study found that 41% of adults experienced feelings of anxiety or depression, compared to about 10% before the pandemic.

Management was responsible for addressing both the effects of workplace stress and the underlying causes. However, a survey conducted in June 2020 showed that employees were 20% less likely to report that their superiors kept them informed and prepared. Employees needed useful information and regular updates – for the sake of their mental health and daily productivity – but these details were not disclosed.

That said, managers now need to find ways to rebuild relationships with workers. This process will require effective communication and a thorough understanding of the technology and the role that new technological developments will play as we continue to navigate this global health crisis. The cloud is uniquely equipped to ensure that information flows freely. For this to happen, managers will need to make the most of cloud technology solutions and understand how they can serve as a cement that unites teams and organizations.

How managers and teams separate

Just as front-line workers need advice and support, managers want to stay in close contact with the teams they support. So how did the two sides separate during the pandemic, when the importance of communication was paramount?

The simple answer? People were overwhelmed. With so many fires to put out, so many changes to adapt to and so many unknowns to fear, people had a lot to do. Managers and team members were so focused on their immediate tasks that they could not spend time communicating and registering with each other. They separated without intending or even realizing that this was happening.

This has become a self-sustaining problem. Cloud technology solutions can connect managers and employees, especially when working remotely, but this can only happen when managers know how to make the most of these technologies and train their teams to do the same. Because these managers were busy and concerned about the pandemic, it was more difficult to learn about new technologies, assess what could help and successfully implement them.

In other words, the conditions that have made cloud technology more important have also made these technologies less accessible.

To highlight the importance of cloud technology during and after the pandemic, consider a study of 4,000 knowledge workers. Employees of companies with a connected culture driven by cloud technologies report better physical and emotional health than employees of companies without that culture. The first group of employees also reported feeling more productive at home than the second group.

Undoubtedly, cloud technologies can promote employee well-being and maintain productivity, even in extremely difficult circumstances. But to do this, managers must embrace the cloud and make it the centerpiece of labour relations.

Rebuilding relationships around the cloud

The cloud offers a myriad of ways to rebuild relationships that have been affected by the pandemic and that need to adapt to a new normal. Start here:

Focus on culture. Does your company’s culture have a unified approach to the cloud? Does each team, service, office and branch use the same tools in the same way? Otherwise, it is a preventable source of friction. Work to synthesize and streamline the company’s cloud orientation across the company. ยท Set a standard for innovation. In a recent survey, 59% of respondents said their organizations would operate entirely or largely from the cloud within 18 months – and these organizations already spend 32% of their budget on cloud computing. Every company should follow this path by making innovation a top priority. Just remember that change requires management, so combine any new technology with comprehensive education and training for users.

Show that you care. If everyone feels that management doesn’t care, the team members won’t talk about problems or ideas. The transparent nature of cloud communication allows managers to stay in close contact with everyone. Cloud-based surveys can also help businesses solicit and analyze feedback

Look for outside perspectives. Managers have a responsibility to help teams optimize the tools at their disposal. Make the most of your tools by looking for outside perspectives online. You must then inform the team of all the information you get from this external search and social listening, ideally via a cloud-based chat tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Communicate clearly. As in the previous point, internal development teams working on cloud technology need to keep everyone informed of any changes or updates that are taking place. Again, managers should lead this effort. Interact with the developers to find out what’s going on, and then share that information with the rest of the team. As always, the cloud is the best tool for seamlessly sharing information between disconnected parties

Many companies have survived the pandemic with the help of the cloud, and this will be just as crucial to entering the new normal at full throttle. The next step will be to assess whether existing cloud tools can do everything managers and front-line teams ask them to do.

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