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Over just a few weeks starting in March, most of Europe has been introduced to a number of things that comprise the “new normal.” Practising social distancing and staying home as much as possible is already a challenge for many people, but working from home is even more so, especially for organisations that aren’t used to this kind of setup.
For many CEOs, it is not merely a change in the employees' location. The “new normal” presents new challenges to an organisation's agility and management culture, as well as to the processes and internal operations.
Among all the concerns about remote working, there’s one big question that’s getting raised time and time again: which remote work tool(s) should our company use? As we are entering an unchartered territory of extreme economic uncertainty, picking the right collaboration platform has become more important and urgent than ever, particularly for SMEs.
The answer to that question has often been to introduce several different apps and platforms and multitask between them constantly. That’s what Lark is there to fix by offering a more coherent experience. A next-generation collaboration suite for teams, it seamlessly integrates chat, conferencing, calendar, cloud document collaboration, workplace apps, and much more in one place.
“We discovered that communication and collaboration is the secret sauce of many organisations' exponential growth,” said Ananth Devarajan, product manager at Lark. “Many of our users have successfully pivoted into 100% WFH mode, while some are even creating new use cases and reinventing their working culture through Lark. We believe that the way we work is shaped by the tool we use — and with the right tool, companies can boost their agility, build a collaborative culture, streamline internal processes and reduce costs even in the most turbulent times.”
Context and transparency
In today's #WFH situation where information flow might be less transparent, it is more important than ever to make sure employees are provided with the right context and empowered to make distributed decisions. An important part of the information-sharing and decision-making process is meetings of various shapes and formats — and that’s where Lark has something quite interesting to offer.
If you’ve been to many meetings, you will have noticed that very often most attendees enter a meeting without understanding its full context — that’s even more so with online gatherings. A few people would normally be engaged in the meeting agenda while others check email or browse the internet. These meetings go on forever and produce few tangible results, which at the end of the day implies a huge cost of time.
To make meetings more efficient and actionable, Lark developed the SamePage method, giving teams the power to create robust collaboration experiences.
The idea here is reasonably simple but powerful. Before the meeting, the host captures the background information and proposed discussion topics in a detailed Lark Doc and shares it with the meeting-dedicated chat group. For the first 15 minutes of the meeting, no-one actually talks — but each person reads the doc and adds comments and questions simultaneously, and tags relevant colleagues where needed. Once everyone has “liked” the doc to indicate they are done reading, meeting attendees discuss the feedback points one-by-one.
“Making everyone read the Doc during the meeting — and not before — ensures that everyone has the same level of context going into the discussion,” Devarajan said. “We’re noticing that the SamePage method is especially effective for remote teams in different locations during video conferences, as team members are engaged and can feel that their contributions are valued.
Breaking down information silos
The main benefit that Lark strives to create by offering a full collaboration suite rather than separate apps is that emails, meetings, calendar, documents, and office administrative processes are all connected in a seamlessly integrated app. The need for switching among these activities on legacy platforms often results in huge efficiency loss and information loss.
Here are a few examples of how Lark can break down information silos created by single-purpose legacy solutions.
Lark Docs. In a document, you can simply type @ followed by your colleague's display name, and they’ll immediately receive a notification with a link to the document in the chat interface. Clicking the link will bring them to where the @-mention is located in the document, so you’re more likely to receive a speedy response. With one click, a to-do list can be created, where each item can be assigned to a person and given due date. Task owners get sent a reminder automatically before the due date, which ensures that nothing slips through the cracks. In addition to that, you can insert a poll to collect feedback, a spreadsheet table, or even a group chat simultaneously in a doc.
Lark Calendar. Seamlessly integrated with Chat and Docs, the calendar is more than just a tool for time management but also serves as a basis for communication. Once you’ve created an event, any of the attendees can create a chat group for the meeting so that people can interact before the actual meeting takes place. You can also set your working hours to let your teammates know when you’re working and when you’re not. This is especially useful if you and your teammates are in different time zones.
Lark Video Conferencing. With the “Magic Share” feature in Lark Video Conferencing, you can share not just your screen, but also a Lark Doc, which everyone can scroll through at their own pace right in the call window. If participants are calling in from mobile, the doc is automatically adjusted to fit their screen size. Everyone can edit and comment on the doc simultaneously without leaving the call.
Virtual Office. While video and audio calls are meant for "predetermined purposeful communication,” Lark’s Virtual Office is meant for spontaneous interactions: more like “hanging out” than “having a meeting.” It is intended to replicate the offline in-person work environment, in audio-only format. Knowing who’s online and knowing that you can talk to your teammates whenever you want makes you feel like you’re working in the same physical space. This is something that often helps users re-discover the flow of working together in person.
Remote work is actually the new normal
While it’s hard to predict how exactly the world will look like after the pandemic, we certainly should not expect it to fully revert to how it was previously. No one has a playbook for such a global-scale work-from-home experiment — but it’s quite certain that many companies will use it to re-think the way they collaborate and build their processes internally.
“We believe the future of work will be more distributed, dynamic and open,” Devarajan said. “Remote working is here to stay is an enlightened way in its own right, and will have lasting benefits for organisations even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to communicate and collaborate effectively and remotely will be the next-generation competitive advantage for businesses.”
Lark is a next-generation office suite for teams, consisting of Messenger, Video Conferencing, Docs and Sheets, Cloud Storage, Calendar, as well as a powerful Open Platform that integrates with third-party applications. On Lark, you can enjoy smooth video calls for up to 100 participants with unlimited minutes and advanced screen sharing, collaborate on docs with your teammates even during video calls, enjoy 200GB of free cloud storage, and create chat groups for up to 5,000 people with unlimited searchable messages. Get started for free here.
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