Collaboration tools have been around for some time now, but seem to have boomed over the past couple of years. It’s inevitable that projects require people to work as a team. However, with more remote employees, and teams potentially including external organizations, teamwork has had to take a new approach. “The purpose of a collaboration tool is to support a group of two or more individuals to accomplish a common goal or objective.”[i] Online collaboration tools allow team members to all be on the same page.
So, what makes collaboration tools so desirable?
- They Cut Back on Emails in Your Inbox – “23% of workers think emails harm their productivity, moreover, the time spent to manage them constitutes 28% of total work time.”[ii] When you can use chat functions within a collaboration tool to communicate about a certain project, it reduces the amount of back and forth emails in your inbox. It’s much more practical and is similar to having a text message conversation with your team members.
- They Reduce the Amount of Time Spent in Meetings – Communication is more transparent and effective using a collaboration tool. Information can be shared at any point and does not need to be saved for the next big project meeting. Collaboration tools also have the ability to conference call with team members. Therefore, quick conversations do not have to involve a longer than necessary meeting.
- Progress Is Constantly Visible – “The more people there are working on a project, the more difficult it is to follow the project’s evolution from all involved workers.”[iii] Everyone on the team can view edits that have been made real-time. Collaboration tools can also help aid in keeping track of team member tasks and are effective for sending reminders.
- File Sharing Is Easy – There is no more uncertainty about which file is the most current. Collaboration tools allow the entire team to have access to the most up-to-date files without having to send another copy through email or any other form.
- They Build Stronger Teams – Not only is communication made easier and more efficient but with collaboration tools your team can also brainstorm ideas in a much more convenient way. Regardless of when it’s done, your teammate can share ideas and they do not go unseen or forgotten. All team members can view and react, fostering a much more innovative team culture.
- They Can Be Used for Training – With many organizations having employees all over the world, a lot of virtual instructor-led training is done through collaboration tools. It allows learners to interact and participate, asking questions through the chat feature, or sending direct messages to the trainer. “Collaboration is a way where learners work towards common goal and interaction is the important element of online learning.”[iv] These tools also allow you to break down learners into small groups for activities within the training.
Collaboration tools are vital for organizations. “The very essence of collaboration is being open to the ideas and methods of others.”[v] They allow team members, or learners in training, the freedom to be creative, ask questions, explore their curiosity, and stay on task. Giving employees these tools for success increases engagement and productivity. The benefits are crucial to company performance and success.