With an increasing number of companies offering working from home policies, not to mention the amount of businesses with global offices, working on projects can be challenging when you have a geographically diverse team.
While it might be a challenge, collaboration isn't something you should give up on. As well as boosting team bonding, working on projects increases efficiency and fosters creativity.
However, as Microsoft points out, many businesses are still relying on phone calls, emails and on-site meetings to manage team collaboration and projects. But these methods can be costly both in terms of time and money.
Collaboration tools are not only more efficient and cheaper; they simplify long-distance collaboration and help bring teams together.
According to a recent survey commissioned by Adobe, over half (57%) of the professionals questioned said messaging and collaboration apps were critical to the success of their organisation.
A similar number of respondents (59%) believe these apps will continue to be of critical importance in 2019.
Step away from the meeting room, embrace online collaboration tools, and follow these top five tips to foster connected work teams:
1. Ensure everyone is up-to-date
When it comes to working on a project together, team members not receiving the latest information or the latest versions of documents, such as project status reports, can result in time being wasted.
Tools such as Microsoft SharePoint not only make documents easy to find, but allow members to track changes made to documents, allowing everyone to have access to the latest versions.
2. Use tools to schedule
If you frequently use emails to try to schedule meetings, you'll know how frustrating it can be to find a suitable time.
Often, the meeting manager will send out an email asking members to reply with the time that's best for them and by the time everyone has replied, schedules will have changed.
A more effective way to arrange meetings is to have team members share their calendars with the meeting manager.
3. Hold virtual meetings
Having meetings keeps team members focused and engaged on the project. They're also a great way to bounce ideas off each other. But they can be a challenge when you have a remote workforce.
One of the advantages of holding meetings online is that team members can share documents and presentations related to the project.
Don't forget to send out an invite 24-48 hours beforehand to ensure people are aware of the meeting. Also, make sure you provide the topics to be covered so they can be prepared.
4. Have communication tools
Outside of work, we're used to instant messaging, which can make the wait for an email reply seem like a lifetime.
Having a communication tool such as Slack will avoid the need for lengthy emails or phone calls, and make sure team members can contact each other quickly.
Not only does Slack provide real-time direct messaging, it also allows users to share files, have public or private chats, and send out announcements.
5. Use the right tool for the job
Complex projects will require tools that can cope with that scale, such as Microsoft Project, while smaller projects will be able to use simpler platforms so make sure you know the size of the project before you decide on collaboration tools.
When looking into collaboration tools, remember that not every platform will work for every company. Some businesses might be happy using tools such as screen share, whereas some workers might find this distracting – especially if you forget to turn off your email notifications.
Lastly, to ensure everyone can contribute to the project and make the most of the technology, train team members in how to use the collaboration tools.
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