Technology isn’t just creating a digital transformation at work—it’s redefining the potential of teamwork. Kim Austin, marketing manager for Cisco, wrote, “The days when people worked heads-down in cubes by themselves is quickly giving way to a more interactive business world . . . In fact, 88 percent of CEOs believe digital technologies are creating high value in operational efficiency. Meanwhile, 91 percent of employees believe digital technology can transform the way they work for the better.”
In short, office collaboration can improve, and remote workers deserve to feel like part of the team. According to Gallup, around 40 percent of companies allow employees to work remotely, and there are plenty of benefits—remote workers tend to log more hours than those in the office and are slightly more engaged, for instance. Bosses everywhere should feel psyched about these two facts.
When you provide enhanced mobility and enable employees to work better together through a digital transformation, productivity can shoot through the roof. But what tools and technology do you need to do so? We found four must-haves that will inspire collaboration throughout your business.
1. Communication tools
While it’s still the most widely used tool for communication in the workplace, email is flawed when it comes to security and building strong teams. It’s easy to ignore, and it puts internal and external messages in one overflowing inbox. Instead, boost collaboration by adopting a secure communication tool for internal use.
You’ve likely heard about the messaging app, Slack. It allows you to organize and prioritize conversations based on topics or projects. You can also share files and sync other remote tools, so you can keep everything in one place. Another option is HipChat. Like Slack, you can start conversations with individuals or groups, but you can also use its built-in video-calling and screen-sharing features.
2. Project management tools
Tracking progress on projects is one way to streamline your efforts and get more done. Asana is a team management tool that lets you organize communication and work into projects. You can easily track everyone’s progress, display individual to-do lists, track conversations, and archive projects.
Basecamp is another solid choice. This tool is more comprehensive than Asana, providing you with a dashboard for monitoring tasks, conversations, documents, schedules, and milestones. You can also see a big-picture timeline for projects, making it easier to delegate work and deadlines.
For day-to-day tasks, I Done This acts like an online to-do list for your entire team. At the end of the day, you provide updates with a list of your activities. The next morning, everyone’s workload and accomplishments are delivered.
3. File-sharing tools
Whether you work remotely or in the same office, you need to send files to coworkers and management. WeTransfer is a site that allows you to send large files up to 2GB—the type of load email has trouble bearing. Another sharing tool is Dropbox, with which you can store files and invite others to collaborate on certain folders or files.
4. Meeting tools
If you have remote members on your team, you’ll need an online meeting platform to collaborate with everyone. GoToMeeting is a popular option, allowing you to use audio or video. Google Hangouts is another good platform, with video or audio conferencing for up to 10 people.
How many tools are too many?
When it comes to choosing the right tools for your team, trial and error might be your best method to find what works. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services asked executives to identify where typical collaboration tools fail, and the top three reasons were: they’re used too little by employees, they weren’t integrated with other business processes or overly siloed, and they weren’t aligned with user work styles and preferences.
Remember, new tools—no matter how good—will disrupt the status quo. Before you implement something company-wide, create a focus group of employees from different departments to test the tool and give real feedback. Provide thorough training, and communicate to your team why the new tech will make their workday better.
You’ll also want to implement one tool at a time, and don’t ditch the old tool just yet. Wait until at least 80 percent of your team is proficient and on board. Too much of a good thing too soon can be just as bad as the wrong tool for your team. But if you pull off adoption successfully, your business can maximize the benefits of a digital transformation and boost productivity to new heights.