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7 Benefits of Using Online Collaboration Tools
Collaboration is easier and more effective than it’s ever been. Advances in technology means we can keep in contact and work together online instantaneously. Someone in America can work in tandem with their colleague in Germany in real time so projects can progress smoothly.
If you want to take advantage of modern technologies so your team can collaborate online then this is the article for you. It could be so you can offer work from home opportunities or because your team needs better tools. Collaboration is at the heart of every company and here are 7 benefits of online collaboration tools.
Email takes a back seat
Once upon a time, email revolutionised the workplace and thrust businesses into online working. Now we can rely less on emails, which can slow down progress while we wait for replies. Online collaboration tools mean everyone can access what they need to at the same time and communicate instantly over instant messaging.
There is still a place for email in modern offices, they’re a great way to keep track of things. However, to increase team productivity you’ll be better off using dedicated collaboration software instead.
Ease of access to documents
Hosting your documents (including templates) on the cloud or in a shared folder means easy access for anyone who needs it. Before the internet documents would be kept in hard copies and those in different locations would not be able to access them. Now, your travelling salesmen, or international project managers can log onto local wifi and pull the documents they need.
Permissions and restrictions can be added to ensure that only the necessary people can access important information. IT teams can remotely add users so even at-home workers will have little trouble accessing documents.
Having documents on the cloud removes the need for employees to load things onto a USB. These can be easily misplaced which can leave you vulnerable if they contain confidential information. The cloud is more convenient and more secure.
More efficient workflows
Using online collaboration tools is great for cutting down unnecessary meetings, long email chains, and lengthy phone calls. Everyone will be able to track project progress using things like Kanban boards and collaborative workspaces. People can ask questions and receive quick answers from their colleagues and superiors.
The lightning fast response time means projects can progress smoothly and without interruption caused by waiting for responses. Of course, there will be occasions where people are temporarily unreachable but the wait time is significantly reduced.
Let’s take marketing as an example, someone is writing a press release and they can use a cloud based tool like Google Docs. They can type up their report and then share access with their manager. Their manager can then review and annotate the press release before sending it back. All this can be done from within the same document, online, and in real time.
Tasks can be actioned immediately
Any tasks that are new to the agenda can be communicated quickly to the team. There’s no need to book a conference room, gather the team, and have a meeting about every little thing. Instead, tasks can be shared using a good online collaboration tool, the team can acknowledge and ask any questions before getting to work.
It’s much easier to stay organized and track progress of tasks using an online tool. For example, using a Kanban style board, you can split your tasks into three (or more) columns to monitor progress. At its most basic level these columns will be “to-do,” “doing,” and “done.” Depending on the task a popular fourth column is “amending” in case the work needs to be reviewed before being returned to the “done” column.
All members of the team will be able to see the progress of tasks if managers choose to share this information. This can lead to increased collaboration among the team as they share ideas and processes. It’s also proven that a system like this increases the sense of urgency for getting your own tasks done so as to not hold up your colleagues.
Save money using remote workers
Once you introduce remote working to your business the pool of job seekers you have access to explodes. This means you can find experts for less money because the cost of living in their area is lower. Online collaboration tools can help you create a team from scratch remotely and save big on your costs.
Not only can you find talent for less money but you can save on things like office space and furniture. You can also hire people for projects or tasks instead of hiring full-time staff you don’t have enough work for.
Remote working is a highly attractive job benefit. It can help you to attract more qualified people to your position. Adapting to remote working is also a great way to future proof your business. No doubt more and more people will want this as part of their contract.
Reporting is easier than ever
Reporting on projects can be hard work, time intense, and very stressful to complete. It’s easy to get sidetracked, misplace important data, or collate information from various sources. Online collaboration tools can reduce the work involved in creating reports particularly if you are responsible for a large team.
Many online tools have the ability to create reports on demand pulling from a wide range of sources. This process can be easily automated to remove all the pain of creating one manually. You can create detailed reports with the click of a button which frees your team up to work on more important work.
Track changes with ease
Certain online collaboration tools make it easy to track any changes made by your team. Managers can review the changes and compare them with previous versions. This is particularly useful when dealing with important documents. Tools like Microsoft 365 or G-Suite allow you to pull up older copies of documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
If you’re unhappy with a change or need something to be reviewed you can tag an employee to draw their attention to it. Online tools let you make comments without making adjustments which makes it easier to collaborate on new ideas.
If your business is not already using online tools for collaboration then you are behind the times. The advances in technology have made it far more useful to work online than offline.
Your team will be able to do their work quicker, more creatively, and with collaboration at its core. No matter what business you are, working with online collaboration tools will increase productivity for the entire team.