Real-Time Collaboration: Tools and Best Practices
Hardly can someone ever find a business not using even one form of technology in their workplace.
From office administration to sales and marketing, to customer support, to client communication, on all sides of a business’s workforce, technology is always present. Technology has been a great tool in boosting productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
In today’s generation, collaboration software is one technology that is becoming increasingly important and widely used by businesses. It is a technology specifically designed to connect people around the globe, handle and monitor group work, and work on projects at any time. It remarkably paved the way for remote working, which is a common trend today.
There are many types of collaboration software; real-time collaboration is one.
Real-time, or also called synchronous collaboration software, is an excellent team program that enables two or more people to work together at the same time, regardless of location; one only needs an internet connection.
The digital workplace is the primary beneficiary of this technology where communication and collaboration among groups of people working for one specific goal have been made convenient and efficient; whenever and wherever.
There are tons of collaboration tools with a range of functionalities to aid business’s needs.
Here are the kinds of real-time collaboration tools that businesses and freelancers use today:
DIFFERENT KINDS OF REAL-TIME COLLABORATION TOOLS
1. Shared Whiteboards
Whiteboards are commonly used in school classrooms. It’s the same with blackboards but uses a white smooth and glossy board instead of the green one. It’s specifically used as a writing surface where students and teachers can easily write, re-write, and delete written notes on the board.
Shared whiteboards share the same analogy with that of a classroom whiteboards.
Also called whiteboarding, shared whiteboards is a collaboration tool that is perfect for informal discussions using an on-screen shared platform.
Whiteboarding is a virtual collaboration whiteboard where several people connected using the software can interact directly about their ideas by letting users create, write, draw, and modify shared images and documents.
2. Video Communication Systems
Very much alike with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video communication system allows inbound and outbound calls all over the world with an additional live videostream.
This tool is advantageous especially to remote work businesses where instructions are easily given personally using video communication—even without physical interaction—in real time.
Hectic schedules and financial limitations may hinder people meeting their clients face-to-face. Thus, they turn to video communication systems to do work as if they were physically there.
Check out our list of 10 Best VoIP Providers here.
3. Chat Systems
Similar to video communication, this tool enables users to connect with people through real-time written messages. Some chat system platforms also incorporate file and video sharing.
The chat system is an excellent tool to bring people together informally through group chats and discussions.
Samples of widely used chat system tools are Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.
Check out more chat tools here.
4. Decision Support Systems (DSS)
To help businesses reach a realistic market expectation, one must collaborate with a computerized information system to support decision making.
The system’s goal is to create an effective and efficient decision thus, it must not be confused with an automated decision-making machine.
Monitoring financial status and analyzing employees’ performance is made easy using a DSS tool, which is done by extracting daily data and processing it to deliver meaningful information.
IDENTIFY THE BEST TOOL FOR YOUR BUSINESS
No matter how advanced the collaboration software you’re using, if the tool is not user-friendly, the purpose of acquiring one is pointless.
There’s an enormous number of collaboration tools in the market. Don’t be misled by acquiring one software with too many and too complicated features offered. Do a thorough examination of what tools your business needs.
Check this guide by Tracy Collins on what questions to ask before choosing a collaboration tool:
- Is it a standalone tool or a multi-purpose tool?
- What’s your budget?
- Does it offer a free trial or free demo?
- How secure is it?
- Does the tool answer your team’s specific problem/s?
Ensure to choose a collaboration software that allows for safe communication, secure file-sharing, and easy project collaboration, away from prying eyes everywhere.
Dead Drop Software is one great example. It is a cloud-based collaboration platform that boasts of bank-level security with unlimited storage for documents, photos and forms. It also comes with a powerful calendar that teams can use to coordinate tasks, note events, and define milestones.
Determine and choose the right collaboration tool for your business.
REAL-TIME COLLABORATION BEST PRACTICES
1. Patience, Patience, Patience
Don’t make haste to implement changes. Once you’ve finally decided to enter higher heights for your business using collaboration tools, remember to give your employees enough time to digest the new changes.
Your employees have been working on ways familiar and convenient to them. Don’t let them change their ways immediately. Conduct training first and be patient in giving your employees time to familiarize themselves with the new processes.
2. Promote Transparent Communication
Communication is the key to a successful collaboration. Collaboration tools are available to leverage what the whole team can do. However, when there is no transparent communication, all efforts will be in vain.
Promoting an honest and transparent communication develops a trusting environment within the company which also eradicates politics within.
3. Do Not Just Collaborate
Keep in mind the purpose behind all your team’s collaboration efforts.
Collaboration makes a business successful, but more than the goals, remember that you’re not dealing with technology entirely; you have relationships with employees and clients to foster.
Communicate shared goals with your team. Make them feel that they are essential to the company’s success.
Motivate and lead, not just coordinate for the sake of getting the job done.
Managing a team? Here’s a CHEAT GUIDE for you!
4. Set Proper Expectations
Do you believe that it takes 21 days to form a habit?
This idea began in 1950’s when a surgeon named Dr. Maxwell Maltz noticed that his patients were able to adjust to their newly operated parts of the body for about a minimum of 21 days.
Sad to say, this idea—which many people believed for decades—is actually a MYTH!
People believed this idea easily and it went viral across nations. Why?
It makes sense why the “21 Days” Myth would spread. It’s easy to understand. The time frame is short enough to be inspiring but long enough to be believable. And who wouldn’t like the idea of changing your life in just three weeks?
It’s crazy! No wonder expectations everywhere are high. And when people can’t do as expected, they build unnecessary self-pity and disappointments.
According to a study published in European Journal of Social Psychology, it actually takes an average of 66 days before a new behavior becomes a habit. In addition, the results of the study indicate this:
…And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.
Expectations—each one of us has them. As a business owner, you have them. Your employees also have them. Let’s face it; we all have them.
Real-time collaboration tools could surely advance businesses today, and many business owners and managers believe this full well. However, even when you have the best tools for your business, it doesn’t guarantee immediate success.
Set your expectations accordingly. Success needs hard work. There’s no shortcut for it.
That’s why this next one matters most.
5. Have Fun!
The best motivation at work is when employees are having fun in doing their jobs. Real-time collaboration tools open doors to socializing with colleagues and learning various perspectives from people around the world.
Encourage your team to interact with each other and maximize the features your collaboration software offers. And most especially, never limit your employees on what they can do.
Have fun and support them to be creative as they are.