Your Company Should Invest In Online Collaboration Tools In A Post-Pandemic World
With a global crisis knocking at the door, most organizations have experienced a rapid transformation in the way teams collaborate with each other or manage daily tasks. With work-from-home becoming the norm rather than a novelty for most organizations, offices have shifted their attention to new (or rather, previously overlooked) technological platforms, which enable teams to collaborate, schedule meetings, track the progress of activities, and most importantly, communicate, all while working remotely.
And it seems like employees are more than eager to jump ship and join the virtual team. In a recent survey by Buffer and AngelList on the 2020 state of remote work, 98% of over 3,500 employees, from all over the world, expressed willingness to work from remote locations – for the rest of their career. Companies have also seen a rise in productivity due to flexible schedules and the reduced amount of time spent commuting, while management costs have lowered significantly without the need for maintaining an office space.
Despite the swift change in the paradigm, communication and collaboration still remained two of the biggest challenges faced while working remotely, employees said in Buffer and AngelList’s survey. However, by choosing and investing in the right collaborative platform, companies can ensure these challenges are met, while opening the door for other potential benefits.
Communicate in multiple ways
Since most online collaboration tools support more than one mode of communication, teammates can manage communication either through chat, instant messaging, screen-sharing, audio/video conferencing, or through sharing files. In Microsoft Teams – which offers full integration across all Office 365 apps, your teams can host web conferences on and communicate through audio, video and chat, with both people from within and outside the organization. Slack, on the other hand, allows you to organize conversations into various channels for specific initiatives or projects, and integrates with Google Docs, Box and Dropbox for a more unified experience.
Schedule and host meetings
Whether you are in the sales team and need to host multiple meetings with clients, or you are the product manager who needs to hold team sync meetings every morning, working from home will not ease your load of daily meetings. However, smart tools have replaced the need to call everyone manually and ask for a convenient time to arrange one. You can schedule meetings in Google Calendar or Outlook. As all calendars come with plugins, whenever you schedule one, the calendar automatically creates the meeting and notifies all the participants. GoToMeeting has an intuitive user interface and a plethora of online meeting and conferencing tools, enabling businesses to collaborate with their teams, clients, customers, and other businesses in real time. And when using Microsoft Teams, your meeting is automatically synced with Exchange calendar, so even if you schedule it through Outlook, it will show up on Teams.
Plan projects and distribute tasks
The process of planning to deliver a project, by collaborating with various internal departments, can sound quite daunting for someone not having the chance to interact physically. Fortunately, most online collaboration tools are made to facilitate this particular need. In Microsoft Planner, you can put each of your plans in boards, and categorize tasks based on their status or on whom they are assigned to. Planner also comes with the typical benefit of installing a Microsoft app – it lets you attach files to tasks, work together on those files, and even have conversations around tasks across the whole of Office 365 – without ever needing to switch between apps.
The absence of a whiteboard or a glass door for jotting down instant ideas can pose a problem during any brainstorming sessions. But in MindMeister, you can share your mind maps with everyone in real time, or make it public for viewing afterwards. The cloud hosted platform offers an unlimited number of multi-thematic templates to make sketches of business plans, and you can also use it for other purposes, such as setting meetings or planning projects.
Track your team’s work progress and maintain transparency
Several collaborative tools help you to keep real-time updates on assigned tasks, view the percentage of your team’s work completed at a certain time, or keep a record of your work hours. monday.com has features that make it easy to check in on your team’s progress anywhere, at any time, and you can also view deadlines that can help you prioritize and decide which task should be completed first. With everyone keeping records of their work and communication in one place, you can also maintain transparency of work on every front.
Install a complete office space
By setting up G Suite, Office 365, and other productivity suites, you can use a holistic range of services, starting from online collaboration tools to security and management tools. Not only does this save you from the trouble of finding tools for individual services, the productivity suites also give you many other additional benefits – such as the offline functionality of Office 365. After installing a productivity suite that matches your budget, you will run your operations so smoothly that you might not even feel like getting back to your actual office space any time soon!
Even if the pandemic dies down in the next few months, it does not seem like the trend of working from home will end. By focusing on your budget and the features you want to optimize, you can choose and invest in any of the number of collaborative software in the market, to ensure your employees reap the maximum amount of benefit they can while working remotely.
This post was written by Shamsil Kamal, Business Analyst, SELISE.