The outbreak of coronavirus or COVID 19 has prompted lockdown and self-quarantine across the world.
It leads to the closing of many business premises in the past few weeks.
As a result, the employees are being asked to work from home.
Even big companies like Twitter, Hitachi, Apple, Salesforce, Spotify and Microsoft have introduced mandatory work-from-home policies in the last few days.
Working from home is going to be a norm for a while, given that coronavirus has officially become pandemic.
Work from home can be a big lifestyle change. With flexible work hours, there will be no rushing to leave for office and skipping breakfast so you won’t miss the bus.
However, many businesses think that remote working can affect their sales and revenue—with owners, managers and team leaders scrambling chaotically to put together the plans. Some believe that supervision is required to get the work done.
Well, management and employees might not have the same opinion about the “work from home” concept.
But it can’t be denied that the concern of team collaboration and communication becomes evident when workers are at their HOME office.
And this concern is even bigger for the workplaces not being used to remote working. Or the manager might not be used to manage the workforce virtually.
No wonder why collaboration tools have become more important than ever.
Collaboration tools like Skype and Slack let you track down projects; collaborate on any aspects; and share and access files—no matter where you are.
For example, employee A sitting in New York can share files with employee B in Washington D.C while a manager in Ohio can track all this process and assign work to someone sitting in LA—and all this process is supervised by the boss through a dashboard in California.
It simply means that collaboration tools can help businesses simplify and manage the things among their remote employees. Simply put, the tools let remote workers communicate and work together in an organized way.
However, it is important to know how to use collaboration tools to make the most of them.
Therefore, keep these things in mind.
Choose the Right Collaboration Tool
While every tool aims to facilitate communication, sharing, and collaboration among team members, pick the tool that can target your specific problem. Avoid a one-size-fits-all tool that can’t be customized specifically to the requirements of your business.
What do you expect from a collaboration tool?
Some tools offer on-on-one or group chat service as well as lets you share files and documents.
Some tools come with project and workflow management; some are both a communication and a collaboration tool with file-sharing capabilities.
Some tools have real-time messaging, dedicated streams and channels, searchable chat records and integration with other apps and tools.
Some organizations even choose a public platform like Facebook when they are limited by time, skill sets and finances.
The point is here to choose the one that can help you with your concerns. There is no use of a tool that is too big or too small for your needs.
For example, Asana can help if you are looking to coordinate over daily tasks, goals, and projects and it lets you view the status of any project visually. You can also share files and comments among your team members.
But if you are looking for advance features like video conferencing, voice calls, instant messaging and Whiteboard, then Skype is the tool to consider.
Set Real Expectations and Be Clear
No matter what collaboration tools are you using, make sure to set realistic expectations and keep things clear. Once a decision has been made by management, make sure to commit fully.
Senior leaders should consistently communicate the things with clear, concise and consistent messaging.
Setting a clear outline will benefit you and your team, no matter what project you have. Outlines ensure that you don’t go off track, and collaboration doesn’t have to time-consuming as you might assume. Besides, it will keep your team in the right direction.
It also requires you to hold daily meetings over the phone or video calls. It will let you know the concerns and inputs of your employees before the day gets going, limiting the hurdles as well as increasing the efficiencies. It is really useful when you have too many projects at the same time.
Create the Right Protocols
Choosing the right collaboration tool is not enough. The outcomes are determined by how you use them. Things can get complicated if it is left unchecked. For example, some managers let individual project makers choose the categories and status messages for their projects, leading to a number of duplicate project categories and statuses that defeat the purpose of online collaboration tools.
Therefore before using a collaboration tool for your business, it is important to discuss with your team and plan some ground rules. For example, you can create a master list of categories and status messages that meet the requirements of all your team members.
Besides, it is important to create the role of the project creator, assignee and other participants, an admin who can change the assignee in a group as well as the team member who can modify project status and mark the tasks as complete.
This way, you can prevent unnecessarily or negligence archiving or marking a project as complete even before it has been agreed to by other team members in a task.
Think about File Storage
Most collaboration tools let you share and store the file. The storage limit varies based on the tool you are using. No matter how much storage you get from your tool, make sure to back up the things. For example, the final approved copies can be stored on the file storing tools like Google Drive and Dropbox. Luckily, many tools can be integrated with these file storage tools.
The files can be deleted once the project is complete to make space for other files.
Organize Training Sessions
For many people, online collaboration tools are new and exciting things. They might face challenges as they are overly used to real-world face-to-face interaction and meetings for the project.
Good thing is that the training session can be conducted for such team members remotely via teleconferencing. And it shouldn’t be time-consuming. After all, today’s online collaboration tools are user friendly and can be operated with a quick training session. Or the team members can use video tutorials.
Online task collaboration software comes with the features to support collaboration, communication and file sharing. They are really useful when most workers are asked for work from home amidst the outbreak of coronavirus. They are a great way for team members to get more comfortable with the concept of working together to achieve a common goal.
Collaboration requires you to consider several factors. Even if you have the best tool, the right mindset, a talented team on your side, online collaboration comes with its struggles, if not planned properly.
Therefore, you need to take an organized approach, from involving your all team members to managing your projects and everything in between. What do you think? Let me know by commenting below!