How collaboration tools improve productivity
Every business benefits from great teamwork. Collaboration among team members is key, whether you’re selling floral designs or building the next smartphone app. But excellent collaboration requires excellent communication. And the quality of that communication, studies show, is far more valuable than the quantity.
In this article, we’ll discuss how tools help remote teams collaborate and improve productivity.
Workplace collaboration is always evolving
Collaboration is working together toward a shared project or goal and it’s critical now more than ever. But achieving successful collaboration doesn’t always go as smoothly as planned. Sometimes teams lack a shared vision or team members don’t understand their responsibilities, which leads to confusion and inefficiency.
Therefore, choosing the right collaboration tools is important. Fortunately, workplace collaboration has evolved considerably compared to the days of never-ending email threads and enduring a revolving cycle of meetings. Today’s tools take advantage of an always connected network with real-time access to files and collaboration suited for distributed teams and hybrid work.
Collaboration tools, such as video conferencing and cloud computing software, have emerged to improve efficiency, productivity, and team collaboration.
The importance and necessity of collaboration tools came to the forefront during the height of COVID-19 with many employees forced to work remotely for extended periods of time. In fact, according to a Gartner Inc. survey, nearly 80 percent of workers used collaboration tools for work in 2021, up from just over half of workers in 2019.
There are many kinds of online collaboration tools to help teams communicate effectively and stay coordinated. The right tools at the right time keep teams working more efficiently. Here are a few tools that can help.
Five types of collaboration tools to improve productivity
- Project management tools to keep things on track
Whether you’re planning weddings or building websites, chances are you’ve worked on big projects that require a lot of people to do their part. Luckily, there are project management tools to help effectively manage all the moving parts.
- Video conferencing builds relationships
Imagine you need to have an important meeting, but half your team is traveling or working remotely. Video conferencing is a way to get all the research-based benefits of meeting face-to-face without the expense and challenge of planning something in person.
- Chat gets things done faster
Sometimes, just firing off a quick question and getting a prompt response is most efficient. With instant messaging tools built for your office, team members can check-in and problem solve quickly.
- Real-time document revision reduces delays
Forget email chains filled with attachments and confusing edits that don’t make into the document or presentation. With real-time document collaboration, teams can work together on the same project simultaneously, whether it’s a text document, a spreadsheet, or a PowerPoint presentation.
- Cloud version control keeps things organized
Storing projects in the cloud provides easy version control, which allows everyone with access to go online at anytime, find a specific version and save a copy if necessary, before adding feedback. Plus, using collaboration applications like Microsoft Teams makes it easy to find and securely share files with others.
Benefits and challenges of collaboration tools
The benefit of collaboration tools means greater efficiency and productivity. Most tools are designed to take some of the burden of project management from leaders and team members.
One of the main challenges of using collaboration tools is overcoming the learning curve of adopting new tools. When new team members join, getting them up to speed on how to use the tools can take time. Quick start guides and YouTube channels help accelerate employee training.
Typically, working online offers efficiency and project management capabilities to keep everyone organized and on task. Plus, cloud computing reduces lag time so everyone is up to date.
Implementing collaboration solutions
Collaboration solutions and tools prove their value when they’re able to be implemented into existing workflows and processes. For collaboration tools to work for everyone though, they must be easily adopted by employees. Once you decide on a solution, take time to train employees and start to slowly transition to the new software or tool.
Some key features to consider when selecting software include:
- Chat and multi-channel messaging
- Flexibility (asynchronous, live, and whiteboard collaboration)
- Integration capabilities
- Security, compliance, and privacy
How collaboration tools help small to midsize businesses
Collaboration tools are designed to help small to midsize businesses quite well given their built-in efficiencies and economies of scale. However, for tools to be helpful, they must be easily integrated with other collaboration solutions already in use.
More small and midsize businesses are gravitating toward collaboration tools because of their utility, affordability, and scalability.
According to the November SMB Group’s Directions for the Future of Work survey, small and mid-market business use of cloud collaboration solutions is strong and growing with 60 percent using real-time chat/messaging tools such as Microsoft Teams. Roughly half of small and mid-market businesses also said all or most of their collaboration solutions are integrated with other solutions—proving online collaboration tools are built for businesses of all sizes and shapes.