Marissa Mayer, former president and CEO of Yahoo once suggested: "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side."
Although Mayer originally conveyed this idea in a memo with a rather outdated view on remote work, the same principle holds true in today’s digitized work environment. For many, the benefits of teamwork have been instilled in us since childhood, but data and research-backed results also demonstrate how important teamwork is in the workplace. One series of studies even showed companies that promote collaborative working have noticed substantially positive impacts on profitability, innovation, and customer satisfaction.
Thanks to advances in technology, collaboration has taken on an entirely new meaning in the workplace. Today’s workforce can communicate, pool, and share ideas no matter their geographic location. As the need to engage with employees all around the world increases, technology provides instant accessibility and makes collaboration simple and effective. When it comes to new projects, employees who collaborate often are more likely to share work and think creatively, both of which foster organizational productivity. Technology has shaped the way organizations are structured and operate, and it continues to impact how businesses facilitate employee communications.
For this reason, it’s important for businesses to provide their employees with technology solutions that enable them to work collaboratively. If you haven’t tried virtual collaboration already, here are the technology tools your organization should implement to encourage collaboration and reap its benefits.
Enterprise Resource Planning System
Tim Christensen, chief technology officer at SocialChorus, observed that in the past, creating a connected disparate workforce was not always possible; the technology and infrastructure necessary to support it was not economical for many organizations. However, the introduction and mass adoption of cloud technologies has changed this. The cloud is scalable, accessible, and cost effective, which is why it’s proving to be an effective tool for business of all sizes, across many different industries.
A cloud-based ERP system stores an organization’s data in a centralized database, which is accessible to all members of the organization. It keeps information flowing across all lines of business, regardless of employee location. ERP systems can provide the foundation for continuous data interaction, which allows information to be transferred throughout departments, rather than siloed. Employees can view data created and entered by colleagues from other functional groups, which strengthens effective collaboration. Because most ERP systems use the cloud, they can be updated by all members of the organization and offer real-time data. Such data sharing cuts down communication time across departments and quickens the pace of day-to-day operations, while ensuring employees have access to the data they need when they need it.
Mobile Office Suite
Office work is much different than it used to be. Many organizations offer flexible work hours, permissive vacation policies, and remote work offerings, all of which impact their employees’ ability to effectively communicate. A 2018 study found that 70 percent of today’s professionals work remotely at least one day a week, while 53 percent work remotely for at least half of the week. For this reason, it’s important for employers to support their workforce with tools that allow them to collaborate regardless of location, time zone, or working hours.
A mobile office suite enables employees to create reports, edit documents, or share spreadsheets while on-the-go. They can collaborate with others, even if they’re not in the same room, which is ideal for companies with national or global branches or those with remote work policies. Colleagues can share materials simply and uniformly through a brief email and can work together on projects by sending these documents back and forth. Solutions with a mobile apps also better support modern work habits. Studies show that 93 percent of today’s workforce uses a mobile device for work everyday; in fact, 42 percent would choose to use their smartphone over any other computing device. A mobile app allows employees to work from smartphones or tablets, and operate in the ways that they prefer.
Online Project Management
An essential component of a collaborative work environment is that employees are able to track upcoming projects and deadlines. It’s often been said that collaboration is the heart of project management. When employees have all the facts about a project, they can effectively contribute and ask for help from others when necessary.
An online project management tool lets teams know what’s getting done and by who, even when working cross-departmentally. In the past, decentralized project management often caused problems when stakeholders weren’t fully aware of the project parameters. Now, when businesses use an online project management system, all project communications are in the shared space. Stakeholders can regularly update tasks with any necessary edits, requests, or additions. This facilitates a knowledge-sharing work culture, which is fueled by verbal or digital communication and engages others in conversation and collaboration. Project management tools lead to the creation of a stronger knowledge base and foster an organized method for collaboration.
Although collaboration is vital to an organization’s success, time spent tracking down teammates for answers to quick questions equates to frustrations, decreased productivity, and lost time. In many cases, a brief message can suffice to quickly update team members. Messaging platforms are more informal than emails and less time consuming than meetings, but they provide a modern approach to workplace collaboration that ensures open communication is just a few keyboard taps away.
Integrating a communication platform into the workplace fosters collaboration, without sacrificing efficiency. In fact, almost half of today’s workforce says an instant-messaging app actually enhances their organization’s collaboration. For many employees, messaging apps facilitate communications they might not have pursued if they had to locate a colleague in the office or schedule a formal meeting. A communication platform allows team members to work together without complexities. Communication tools can also be a fun way to boost employee morale, as they can be used to send GIFs and emojis, celebrate occasions like work anniversaries or birthdays, share inside jokes, and more. The more employees are able to connect on a personal level, the more likely they will be to openly collaborate for work-related projects.
Effective collaboration is vital to an organization’s success, especially in today’s ever-competitive business environment. Luckily, technology is on the side of collaborative workplaces. Incorporating useful technological elements, like the ones listed above, into the workplace ensures individuals, teams, colleagues, and clients are empowered to collaborate.