Collaboration Tools for Distributed Teams
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The death of the email seems to be near. The ritual of having to go back to our inbox to search for a file, download it, and save it in the right folder will end soon. The endless conference calls, where we share information, will soon be over. Collaboration tools help us have meaningful meetings and suppress the time we spend using email. The challenge is to find the right collaboration tool for our organizational needs.
What are collaboration tools?
Online collaboration tools are application software designed to help people involved in common tasks achieve goals.
What happens when you use the right tools?
- Your team spends less time in email
- Your team spends less time in meetings
- The overall productivity increases
- The employee satisfaction is higher
Why should we stop using email and move to a collaboration tool?
Email vs. online collaboration tools:
What is the difference between online collaboration tools and email?
- Task-based communication: you create a task in the tool and all the materials, deadlines, and messages regarding the task are attached to it so it is easier to find the right information. All of the communication is structured under tasks and gets archived when the task is completed or canceled.
- Ability to set dates and goals inside the same tool.
- Gaming strategy: the team gets immediate satisfaction when a job is completed. The point is not to have the manager or team leader check the “completed” button or change the status. Let each team member do it. You will have a more motivated team.
- You will have more time: according to a study by the International Data Corporation, if your team stopped using email for tasks that can be done with collaboration tools, that would free up 28% of their time, and they could use that time to work on the actual project.
- Less confusion between who is on copy and who is not, when the email was sent, who sent it, etc. All the information is in one place for everybody to find it.
- More transparency: we want our distributed teams to trust each other more. With online collaboration tools, the information is available to anyone you want, and they can access it at any time.
- Finally, a meaningful collaboration: distributed teams experience a more meaningful collaboration. Let’s face it: email is a way of communicating, not a way of collaborating.
- More searchable: information will be more searchable because everything will be in one place, in the right folder, and under the right task.
- More efficient ways to communicate that will take less time.
Meetings vs. online collaboration tools
When teams use the right online collaboration tools, they find new ways of reporting the progress other than in meetings; they find new ways of sharing information other than sitting down and listening to others at a time that might not be the most convenient. With online collaboration tools, the information is available for team members to go find it when they want.
There are many kinds of online collaboration tools that facilitate communication within the team. These tools help the manager and team members keep track of progress so that everyone knows what still needs to be completed. Online collaboration tools support this process by saving time and helping to document the activities.
- Fewer time problems: you don’t have to meet in order to transfer information to the person that will continue your job. Everything is easily documented.
- Fewer distance problems: everybody can work together in one tool.
- Fewer communication problems: the message is clearer because we all use the same channel.
Now you can use meetings to share relevant information, which cannot be shared otherwise, to empower the team, have fun, increase motivation, share achievements, celebrate deliveries, etc. Finally, meetings can become what they are supposed to be: social interactions that make distributed team relations smoother.
Here is a list of some of the tools we find useful. If you want us to help you find the right tool for your team, contact us. If you want to learn more about improving the communication within your team, take this course.
Social media collaboration tools:
socialcast.com, thoughtfarmer.com/ and yammer.com will help you stay in touch with your team.
Wrike.com Offers nice reports for managers and a beautiful interface. Recommended for serious users!
Redbooth.com To manage tasks within a team. It is very user friendly and helps us stay organized!
Trello.com perfect for begginners, easy to see and straight to the point.
If what you want is to have a feel of a real office in the virtual world, then you should start using sococo.com