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A recent study found that companies who promoted collaborative working were 5 times as likely to be high performing.
(Source). In our experience, this has proven to be true – we’d actually argue that in our industry, it would be even more than 5 times likely! Working as a team is imperative to the success of most businesses, so what are some key collaboration tools you can implement to help achieve optimal cohesiveness in your company?
Having been in business for over two decades, and promoting a collaborative culture within our teams, we’ve learnt a thing or two about what tools create an effective workplace; here are four tools we’d recommend, and why.
Office 365 & Skype For Business
Both of these are obvious choices for collaboration in the workplace – with the age old tools we know and love from Microsoft, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, now available online and therefore collaboration-friendly, now’s the time to start taking advantage of these tools. With O365 available on desktop and mobile devices, teams can now collaborate anytime, anywhere. As most of us already know the in’s and out’s of Microsoft’s iconic suite, this is a go-to tool for most businesses looking to easily implement useful solutions for a variety of benefits.
Microsoft Teams is an inclusion in Office 365 that provides awesome collaboration features. You can take advantage of talking privately with colleagues, collaborating in an open space, working on documents directly, or even making audio or video calls. Here are our favourite things about Teams:
- Group Chat:
Think of Teams as a social media platform for your business, providing you with a central space for your staff to collaborate. You can create groups dedicated to the entire company, or spaces for specific teams or topics. You can change permissions to allow everyone, or only some people to have access. With all message threads saved, you’re able to dive in and out as you need.
- Centralised Sharing Platform:
Share files, images and emails in Teams for work colleagues to access.
As stated above, you can dedicate groups to your preferences, and even enable automated notifications from third party platforms like Twitter to stream to a dedicated channel.
- App Integration With Other O365 Features:
In Teams, you can edit word documents, create tabs for OneNote, SharePoint, and more. Having one location to work and collaborate makes for one very productive tool!
There is even an Open Meetings feature, which allows you to jump into a meeting no matter where you in the world.
With Teams available on mobile (iOS & Android), you can take it with you so you’re up to date wherever you go.
Skype For Business is another Microsoft solution that helps professionals work wherever they are from any device. Some collaboration tools mentioned above (including Word Online), even have Skype pre-configured in them, allowing your team to share ideas and chat while working on a document in real time. Skype For Business is also capable of showing the status of each user, helping other team members see their availability, be that busy, in a meeting, offline, etc. Teams can connect via chat, video calls, screen shares and document sharing – either one on one, or in a group chat. With desktop and mobile capabilities, all users need is connectivity to be able to collaborate anytime, from any place.
Promethean (or Smart) Boards
If your company holds meetings with clients and internal teams often, then getting a Promethean smart board is something you should certainly consider for increased collaboration and more productivity in your workplace. Here’s their key features:
- Boost meeting efficiency:
Using these smart boards in meetings does away with standard one-way presentations. Say goodbye to scribbling on a whiteboard, or sliding through PowerPoint. Smart boards allow meeting participates to engage with the information that is being presented. With files able to be shared, accessed and edited all while on the smart board, you can have real-time input, progress and results. Plus all of your meeting notes are easily saved and readily available for reference and sharing.
- Save time & money on less travel:
Along with the point of easily sharing files after meetings above, you can also share your screen access with remote attendees – meaning any worker in any office can partake in your meetings! This will reduce the time and money associated with traditional travelling for meetings.
- Enhance productivity:
No matter how big your business is, or what sector it falls in, given a smart board’s ability to co-author, instantly share with others, and meet with those in any location, it instantly boosts your productivity. No more bland meetings that never get actioned. No more taking photos of whiteboards and promising yourself you’ll annotate them later. It’s all in one connectivity for greater efficiency.
- Mobile connectivity:
Depending on the hardware you’re using, you might be able to easily connect your interactive whiteboard to all your iOS and Android smart devices with a single app. This means an even greater data sharing and interconnectivity capability.
- Touch Technology:
Who wants smudgy erasers and trying to find a marker that works? Not us… With the touch of your fingertips, you can interact with your screen and perform tasks that a whiteboard would never allow you to do!
Confluence is a documentation / collaboration tool perfect for businesses who need a space to store data, keep them on track and on task, document step-by-step how-to’s or processes, and those who work collaboratively on documents of any kind. Particularly useful for technical companies, this tool is great for all departments to collaborate with and requires little training before using, as it has a simple and intuitive interface.
Something we love about it is the consistency it provides with the page templates. You can customise templates for anything from meeting notes, team sections, or support documentation (and more) to help users develop content quickly and consistently. This is a great way to ensure flowing page structures and content throughout your company’s data base.
Collaboration is further enhanced by the ability of members to leave comments on pages as a way of sharing their thoughts or insights. People can choose to ‘watch’ any page they’re interested in, and whenever a change is made or comment is left, everyone watching receives a notification. With the ability to limit access to documents, collaborate in real time, comment, like and share (plus more), Confluence is a great tool for document sharing and real time collaboration. And these are only a few of the things we love about the tool!
Slack is a leading tool that rids inefficient and time consuming forms of communication, and enables teams to collaborate effectively. With its clean and intuitive interface, and abundance of features, Slack is notoriously known for assisting workplaces in slowing down email threads, and promoting real-time collaboration. Here’s a few things our office likes about Slack:
- From documents, to videos, Slack puts everything in one place.
- Easily integrates with our favourite apps and tools, including calendars.
- Can automate repetitive tasks and reminders using bots.
- Enables us to easily find what we need, when we need it thanks to it’s simple search tool.
- Can be customised to suit your company’s needs and requirements.
- It’s a fun, modern and inviting tool to use.
- Has the ability to have private and public channels.
And that’s just scraping the surface. Slack is able to be used across desktop and mobile devices and comes with the ability to set status’s to reflect your current activities. With all this and more, how could you not give it a go?!
These four tools are capable of upping your internal collaboration and productivity, and are all used in our workplace to do just that!
If you have a question about how we use these tools or wonder if they’re suitable for your business, drop us a line below to start the discussion.