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The best tools for boosting workplace collaboration

by Craig Boyle

In the workplace, collaboration is everything. If teams don’t collaborate on projects and share ideas freely, they risk developing in isolation – which can be detrimental to productivity and project completion.

Thankfully, new tools have made collaboration easier than ever. As the technology available to modern business improves, our ability to communicate and work together on projects has never been better. There are lots of different tools available, so deciding which to use can be difficult. Rather than focus on individual tools, a business should instead focus on problem areas and how tools can help fix them. For example…

Document Handling

Going paperless is a daunting step and a lofty goal – even the most modern companies still sometimes require printouts and physical documents. However, adapting to the mindset of trying to store digital copies in an intelligently organised system is vital. A modern business cannot afford to lose documents, which is why digital document handling is vital.

Google Docs is a free alternative to Microsoft Word, and while its ability as a word processor can be questioned, it’s nature as an always-online, always-saving way to backup files is fantastic. In fact, the whole of the Google office suite such as Google Slides and even Google Photos allows you to upload files and keep them safe – without having to spend big on larger cloud-based solutions. If you’re a small business, this is invaluable. As a larger business, using Google’s tools is still a great way to collaborate across teams. Create a Google Doc, for example, and then share it to another team to add their amends seamlessly. You can even share with clients as read-only files without ever having to print them physically.

Project Management

One of the biggest pitfalls of modern businesses when it comes to collaboration is the lack of project management placed on teams. It’s often the case that project management is somehow reserved for ‘large’ projects – but the reality is that even day to day operations and teams need to have some form of project management system in place to stay productive. Modern tools such as Asana and Basecamp are designed to offer a simple, always-online system for businesses to track tasks. However, you can also use a free tool such as Google Sheets to create project management spreadsheets, although this will require a more manual, time-intensive process.

Communications

Sometimes, just communicating clearly can be a big problem in a business. If you have teams working remotely, or need to contact clients without physically visiting them, effective communication can become difficult. Fortunately, tools such as Cisco Jabber and Adobe Connect allow teams to bring video conferencing, instant messaging and other services once reserved solely for big business use to smaller enterprises. Of the tools that can improve collaboration, a workplace instant messaging platform is a fantastic idea – but it can also grow distracting if guidelines are not put in place.

Nowadays, companies like Convo are providing fully scaleable internal communication platforms for businesses to utilise. These are purpose-built, designed to improve communication between colleagues and to allow easier collaboration. They are also often focused on cutting down on emails, as they can be a time-consuming way to communicate for many workplaces.

With so many ways to improve communications, the difficulty as a business owner can often just be deciding which platform to use. The answer will depend on a number of factors such as business size, number of workers and more. To get more clued up on communication in the context of collaboration, study our Open Colleges Leadership and Collaboration Learning Library.

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