New Technology That’s Helping Employees Improve Collaboration
By the year 2020, an enormous 50 percent of the workforce could be remote. Being able to hire workers with varying schedule needs or in dispersed locations is great — it broadens the pool of talent to choose from and improves diversity. With technology like applicant tracking, it’s easy to discover the very best employees from that larger pool.
However, getting everyone on the same page, figuratively and literally, can become challenging. Today, companies of all sizes are using collaboration tools in order to come together in one space, efficiently work on projects, and pave a smoother road for creating a far-reaching business. Here’s some that will help you improve collaboration in your company.
Flow is a project management app that doesn’t look as crowded and complex as others you may have tried. It’s easy to use and simplistic in design, which is especially great for design-focused brands that don’t need any aesthetics getting in the way of their own. You can plan projects, write lists, and prioritize tasks, then delegate responsibilities and check the activity log to see how much progress has been made.
Business small and large have been putting this platform to good use. Dribbble is virtual marketplace where you can go if you need to find creative professionals and design experts. They’re a small company that’s 100 percent remote, but they cater to half a million users daily. Dribbble has been using Flow since 2017 to help their team of 27 better communicate and collaborate with their huge network of designers, illustrators and photographers.
Dribbble’s main issue was finding a way for smaller teams to work simultaneously on ongoing projects and keep up with their many changes. They use Flow as a way to always know what’s going on in those projects at any time, no matter the size or current stage of the project. According to Dribbble’s Director of Product, Sarah Kuehnle, “Flow was particularly interesting to me because it was so flexible. It doesn’t subscribe you to a particular way of working—you don’t have to have whatever ‘flavour of the month agile’ that people are excited about at the moment, and you can get Flow to work the way that you work.” Dribbble’s team is able to work on projects in the same virtual space despite being dispersed around the world.
Massive companies and enterprises, especially those in fields with high security needs (healthcare, government, and finance) should consider Huddle. Documents can be assigned, viewed, and edited. They can also be accessed either online or offline. Most importantly, though, there are several controls for authentication and access.
California Almonds, the leaders in the export of almonds, uses Huddle to coordinate global marketing campaigns. Since they market globally, their team is also dispersed globally, with staff everywhere from California to Shanghai. Additionally, they collaborate with third-party ad and marketing agencies across the world. Before California Almonds started using Huddle, the marketing team was struggling when it came to file access and sharing. Remote workers were having trouble getting into the system to share or edit documents. Even when they could access the system, it was unclear whether or not a team member was working on the correct, most recent version of a file.
A small team from California Almonds initially tested Huddle and loved how easy it was to use, especially when it came to sharing and commenting on files. According to Melissa Mautz, the Associate Director of Marketing Services, “We now use Huddle every single day of the week and it is part of the very fabric of the way we operate. It is used to manage every single marketing project we work on, big or small, internal or external.”
Flock is a communication tool for teams that connect via email, meetings, and an assortment of other apps. Conversations, along with the other productivity tools everyone uses, are brought together in one place and organized. Flock supports both group messaging and one-on-one messaging, and you can segment discussions by department, project or interest. In addition to keeping everyone in touch, you can also add files and links, including documents, images, videos, and Google Drive links. One of Flock’s standout features is the ability to hold an audio or video call right in the app.
Namecheap, a domain name marketplace, uses Flock for collaboration. Their headquarters are in Arizona, but they have hundreds of team members working remotely. The team needed help with collaborating in real time, juggling different time zones and keeping track of who was working on what. They tried using an instant messaging app to help with fast communication, but it wasn’t robust enough to fit all their needs. Competitors like Slack solved this problem as well, surpassing major messaging apps like iMessage and Facebook Messenger to become the innovative communication tool of choice for businesses around the globe.
With Flock, the team at Namecheap has reduced the time it takes for team members to communicate. Customizable activity statuses mean that team members can share what they’re working on without being interrupted. Namecheap takes advantage of Flock’s built-in productivity features, like setting reminders and sharing to-do tasks. They’re able to do all this and still inject the casualness and fun that’s become their company culture. According to an engineer at Namecheap, “I can send text messages, have video calls, share files, add and control tasks, and create reminders. I can even send GIF by using keywords, which adds a bit of entertainment into communicating.”
How to Add a Collaboration App to Your Workflow
When you’re first starting out with a new collaboration or project management app, it might seem tech savvy to move all of your information over to the new system. This is a recipe for disaster, though, and it’s a good way to misplace important documents and details. Instead, go slowly, test the waters, and be open to the process:
- Hold a training session for employees instead of assuming they’ll figure it out on their own.
- Outline security guidelines and policies, particularly if employees are going to use the software on their own internet connection or device.
- Set boundaries regarding when employees and supervisors are available via the tool and when they won’t be expected to be accessible. Collaboration tools have an around-the-clock aspect to them, but that doesn’t mean employees should work 24 hours a day.
- Gather data regarding workflow efficiency, turnaround time for projects, and number of tasks completed. Many collaboration apps make this information easily accessible, and collecting it can inform not only your workflow procedures but also data presentations to potential clients.
Choosing the right collaboration tool depends on the type of access you want employees to have, the work that’s being tackled, and the specific features you need to improve workflow. Since many tools offer different levels of service plus a free trial, play around with a few until you find one that’s suited to your specific needs.
This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.