The team collaboration revolution: 5 ways to get more done at work


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By Rob Scott, Microsoft Guest Author
 

Have you discovered the benefits of workstream collaboration yet?

 

As more companies continue to offer remote working and flexible scheduling options for their employees, the demand for team collaboration software is greater than ever. There are currently about 4.3 million full-time professionals in the US alone who consider their home their place of work.

 

Whether you're expanding your team with telecommuters, or you just want to accelerate performance in your organisation, collaboration is the key. The right tools make it easier to delegate tasks, track business outcomes, and enhance productivity. So, how can you use these systems to get more done at work?

 

Let's take a look.

 

1. Define "Team Collaboration Software" for Your Business

 

It's tough to implement a successful team collaboration strategy when you don't know what your people need. According to the Harvard Business review, clarifying what "workstream collaboration is," is the only way to start to launch a successful implementation.

 

Take your time to find out what kind of tools your people use every day, and which systems would help them to be more productive. According to one study, the most important collaboration tools for most companies are:

  • Instant messaging, or real-time chat: 27%
  • Document sharing and annotation: 20%
  • Activity feeds: 19%

Other features of collaboration tools might include team calendars, task lists, VoIP and video conferencing, screen sharing and more.

 

2. Know How to Use the Software

 

Okay, so you know what kind of tools your workforce needs, now you need to learn how to use them as productively as possible. Rather than rolling a new tool out all at once and waiting for your teams to catch up, make sure that your people receive the training they need to access your workstream collaboration services as successfully as possible.

 

It might even help to have a "beta testing" group that uses the software first and highlights any potential issues the rest of your company might face. The more strategic your roll-out, the more likely people are to adopt your collaboration tools, and the more positive your outcomes will be as a result.

 

3. Embrace Transparency

 

One of the biggest benefits of collaboration tools is the fact that they can promote increased transparency in the business environment. With collaboration strategies, supervisors can keep track of their team's process, measure productivity, and work on boosting efficiency.

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Of course, there's more to transparency in the workplace than simply watching what your employees are doing. Monitoring progress is one thing, but it's also helpful to use your collaboration tools to keep your teams updated on the progress your business is making too. Use your collaboration service to update your groups on how their work is helping you to accomplish your organizational targets and provide feedback when necessary.

 

4. Improve Teamwork = Improve Performance

 

It's a commonly-cited statistic: only 33% of employees are actively engaged at work. Unfortunately, disengaged employees rarely give you the productivity and results that your business is looking for. This means that if you're not proactively working on motivating your people, you could be missing out on a significant opportunity to be more competitive.

 

Fortunately, one of the best ways to get workers engaged at work is to improve teamwork and build a spirit of camaraderie in your teams. Collaboration tools help to create connections between your employees regardless of where they are. When people get to know their teams better, they know who they should reach out to for help when they should solve a particular problem, and where they can turn for support.

 

What's more collaboration tools often include "presence" information which ensure that your people spend less time sitting around, waiting for a response from an unavailable employee. Everyone stays connected, and problems get solved faster.

 

5. Listen and Adapt

 

Companies all over the world are beginning to learn that team collaboration software can help them to bring products into the marketplace faster, delight their customers, and retain their key employees. Teamwork and communication accelerate any working environment and make success more attainable. However, it's not a one-size-fits-all process.

 

An excellent strategy for workstream collaboration involves listening to your employees, learning how they use their tools, and adapting accordingly. It's not about finding and implementing the best collaboration tools on the market. It's about creating a collaborative culture that works for your organisation.

 

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Rob Scott is the founder of leading Unified Communications and Collaboration publication UC Today. He’s a respected blogger and speaker with extensive knowledge of the telecommunications industry. You can find Rob on Twitter here.

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