Online collaboration tools can help your team stay organised, motivated and on-task – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that more is better. Too many tools can cause confusion and miscommunication, or discourage employees from using them. By understanding online collaboration tools and how to incorporate them into your business, you can use these resources to lower IT costs and make your teams work more efficiently and effectively.

Online Collaboration Tools Explained

Like many online resources, collaboration tools on the internet offer users a platform for working together from different locations. Many collaborative workspaces are designed with user-friendly interfaces and provide a range of tools (for a range of cost) that make remote communication more efficient. The spectrum of resources available makes finding the right tools for your business quite easy: Some tools are more specialised, designed to solve specific problems, while others offer comprehensive, organisational features.

However, such variety also poses a few obstacles for you to consider:

  • Bandwidth: If your employees work remotely, you’ll want to be sure they each have enough bandwidth to efficiently navigate the online tool of your choosing.
  • System requirements: Similarly, ensure that your employees have adequate computer systems or platforms to support the chosen online software.
  • Security: If sharing sensitive information is part of your team’s collaboration, consider password-protected systems a given.
  • Customer reach: If your goal is to collaborate amongst your team in a way that allows you to serve your customers, consider

Incorporating Collaborative Workspaces

What kind of collaboration would you like to see from your team? What are your strengths and weaknesses as a collective unit? Where are your employees located, and how much of their communication will be through online media? These are just a few important questions to ask yourself when planning a method for online collaboration. Answering them will help you determine what type of online tools will work best for your group.

Here are a few examples of task-specific online collaborative tools:

  • Google Apps: Each app is designed as a specific means to organise and communicate. Google is savvy with respect to the smooth overlap of its features, so using Google Apps as a whole can be incredibly fluid.
  • Trello: This project management interface makes organisation and task delegation easy. Use Trello to keep track of who’s doing what, the progress they’ve made, and what still needs to be done.
  • Pinterest: You may not think of this social media platform as a business tool, but it’s a great way to share ideas and inspiration. It’s specific and straightforward layout displays images in an organised and aesthetically appealing way.

For more comprehensive collaboration systems, consider these business-oriented platforms:

  • R-Hub: R-Hub offers a 6-in-1 server for realtime collaboration. This system is designed to make web/audio/video conferencing accessible to an unlimited number of employees.
  • Asana: This team-management system is free and easy to use. Asana organises projects and tasks, offering insights to track your team’s progress and achievements.
  • Service Cloud: On this online platform, SalesForce offers a collaborative approach to customer service by effectively organising your team’s problem-solving resources.

Consider your needs as you research various online collaboration tools to figure out what you’re looking for and what will just get in the way. If your needs are specific, look for a specific tool; if they’re broad, consider a resource that’s comprehensive. When it comes to platforms for communicating, oftentimes less is more: more clear, more direct, more efficient, more effective.

Getting The Support You Need

Keep in mind the communication and technical support systems you already have in place. Whether you want to maintain some of these methods as you transition to online collaboration, or you intend to start fresh with a whole new communication system for your team, your IT support network can help your team leap over the learning curve that comes with every technological advance. Ask your IT Support for advice on what collaboration tools might be right for your business: which tools will best integrate with your computer network and technology systems.

And most importantly, ask your team for feedback. Find out what your employees find effective, what they feel is burdensome, and how they like to interact with one another. After all, the key to successful collaboration is, well, collaborating.