How often is your department – or even your team – in the same place at the same time? Exactly. A combination of on-site and remote employees is the norm. Mobility reigns. Getting things done across teams, departments and even continents means we are using collaboration platforms more than ever.
When collaboration technologies are well integrated into operations and company culture, the benefits are substantial. From sales kick-off meetings to connectivity around multiple projects and a myriad of teams, collaboration makes the world go ‘round. Here are four ways I’m finding that collaborative platforms make your business more productive.
Making the Most of Meetings Within Collaboration Platforms
The most visible use of collaboration platforms is in meetings. A sales team especially is always on the go, so having “face time” via collaborative technology can be a big boost to team building.
Messaging and e-mail, even a standard phone call, can sometimes lack nuance. Seeing and speaking in real time with an individual or a group can mean fewer things getting lost in translation. Collaboration platforms are a great way to stage great sakes kick-offs, and much more. Enhanced video conferencing, visual collaboration spaces, even meetings in VR spaces are becoming more commonplace.
And have you thought of these uses? Stage a virtual happy hour. Make weekly team check-ins simpler and more efficient. Some teams might find a morning check-in helpful, to manage, share and streamline project workflow. Bottom line: collaboration platforms enhance meetings and enhance teamwork.
Making the Most of Your Culture
Collaboration starts with culture. My colleague Daniel Newman wrote about this in a post entitled Nine Tips to Encourage Collaboration Across Departments. He sees the starting point as – guess what – a culture of communication. Transparency, empathy and open feedback are all crucial elements in a collaborative work culture.
Collaboration platforms can make the most of a strong collaborative culture, but they are not a pill to swallow to achieve miraculous results. Daniel Newman puts it this way, “there is no quick shortcut or app to make teams collaborate successfully. It just takes good old-fashioned commitment, culture, and work.”
Where teamwork and collaboration are fostered, collaboration tech will make the most of that culture. The upside is huge. Collaboration platforms not only enhance communication (see below) but help you understand your own workflow as well as the workflow of your colleagues. If deadlines are missed, you can pinpoint where team members might be overworked or what departments might be understaffed. But it all starts with a culture of collaboration.
Making the Most of Communication
With flex time and remote work in general becoming more and more commonplace, collaboration platforms are essential in fostering good communication.
In years past, when I was deep into my own workflow, I’m amazed at how easy it was to let communication slip off my radar. This challenge is magnified across entire systems. Communication seems simple enough, and it is the single best way to make sure you and your colleagues are on the same page. But in the midst of the tyranny of the urgent, communication sometimes goes by the wayside.
Collaboration platforms make the most of communication. They amplify and create simple, direct paths, so you can communicate with the right person or group at the moment communication is needed most. When is that deadline? Who is responsible for that task? What if I need some extra time? What if I have a question about some obscure portion of the project? A good collaboration platform will have the information I need, and I will be able to communicate with the right person to keep everything on track and keep the right people in the loop.
Making the Most of the Data
Closely tied to communication is data tracking. Getting clear about who is doing what, and when it’s getting done is a big boost for productivity. With collaborative platforms, there is less likelihood of tasks and ownership of those tasks falling through the cracks. You’ve got deliverables, I’ve got deliverables and we all know when, where and how to deliver.
Wrangling the workflow of complex projects can get challenging. Collaboration platforms allow you to keep track of project details and make reporting so much simpler. A recent FOW article, How to Find the Right Collaboration Platform for Your Workplace, notes that ease of tracking, reporting, and having all relevant data on one platform are all big productivity boosters.
For these four reasons and many more, collaboration platforms are making business more productive. How is your organization using collaboration platforms? What is working and what needs improvement? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The original version of this article was first published on Future of Work.