How can you increase the productivity of your team? That’s a question managers have been asking for decades. For some teams, the answer might be collaborative working tools.
Why Use Collaboration Tools?
Teamwork is just as useful and as difficult today as it’s been since the beginning of time. However, you have the advantage today of technology to aid you in refining some of the more difficult details of teamwork. Besides the actual work that each team member needs to do, almost everything else can be helped along by a collaboration tool.
Collaboration tools automate simple tasks, facilitate communication, and keep teams connected in useful ways. The right collaboration tools will smooth out the wrinkles between team members and make it easier for people to work together, even if they’re all working remotely.
Not all tools are time-savers. For the best team experience, you need to find tools that work well for your goals and your team. Your setup might look different from how another team would arrange themselves. As long as it works for you and actively makes your team more productive or efficient, that’s a success.
Types of Collaboration Tools to Look at
1. Video Conferencing Tools
Communication is often the most difficult part of working in a team. This is especially true for remote teams that don’t have the opportunity to sit in the same room together daily. Video conferencing tools have many benefits for teams over text or voice-only communication.
With video, you get to reincorporate some of the non-verbal communication and avoid distraction or multi-tasking during calls. It’s not perfect, but it’s often far more efficient and can help you feel more connected as a team.
Most VoIP services offer video conferencing along with their normal call service. Your whole team can connect for no extra fee through a basic plan that includes video calls, voice calls, and instant messaging. All these communication methods are a step above long email strings.
2. Productivity Tools
Any tool that helps you do your work more efficiently is a productivity tool. This could vary based on what your team does. A shared CRM software is a great team productivity booster while account software could be a useful individual productivity tool.
For teams, productivity tools should have the ability to share information or allow team access, so that everyone can use the same tools and easily access files or documents from other team members. If team members are using different tools or they can’t access files created by each other, you’re going to be less productive as a team, even if you’re better off individually.
Be careful not to bog your team down with too many productivity tools. At some point, more tools can result in less productivity. If there’s a learning curve or if the tools are a bit complex, your team could be wasting time trying to figure out too many tools instead of doing the work itself.
3. Project Management Tools
Every team should have a project management tool and should use it consistently. These tools are fantastic for keeping everyone on the same page. A good project management tool allows every team member to access a central list of ongoing, planned, and completed projects. They can then add tasks, mark them as completed or ongoing, attach relevant documents, write notes for others to see, send information directly to relevant people, and so much more.
For remote teams, project management tools are a necessity. With a good tool, each person can keep up with the progress on every project without having to directly communicate with one another and wait for responses. Managers are also able to see an overview of what’s happening and what each person is currently working on.
Some project management tools include VoIP services, but not all. They’re likely to have direct messaging capabilities or group chat features to supplement the project management features. While a boatload of features might sound appealing, it’s better to focus on a tool that knows what it is and does what it’s supposed to do. Tools that try to do all and be all tend to miss out on important features and polished operations that distinguish really good project management tools.
4. Multi-Party Creation Tools
With the rise of cloud internet came a surge of tools that utilize the cloud for collaborative projects. This category includes coding software, online word processing software, and similar tools that can all be accessed and edited by separate team members.
While not always effective for deep work projects for individuals, collaborative tools like these are great when a file or document needs to pass through a few different hands before completion. When everyone involved has constant access to the document in its latest, most updated form, work can get done seamlessly.
Choosing Collaboration Tools
Tools should make you more effective, not distracted. They’re meant to increase your team’s ability to work together and get things done. If a tool isn’t succeeding at that, even after your staff have learned to use it properly, it’s not something you should keep using. Avoid the sunk cost fallacy that makes you believe you should stick with it because you’ve already spent money on that tool.
Before you start using a tool, make sure it works well and does everything you want it to do. Choose your tools wisely and limit how many you’re going to use. Try to avoid a tool that has every single feature built in, unless all of those features are fully functional and as useful as their separate counterparts.
Don’t buy tools just for the sake of having them. If you’re going to starting using a collaboration tool, make sure it fits in with your team’s working style and gives enough benefit to justify both the cost and the time it takes to learn and use the tool.