Over the past several years, the idea of collaboration and encouraging diverse minds to work together has become a central theme of the modern workplace. Inspired by tech juggernauts like Google, Facebook and Apple Inc, businesses of all sizes and across sectors have been shifting to more collaborative and open ways of working. Given that people are generally social beings and derive their motivation (and inspiration) from others, it is perhaps no surprise that collaboration has become a strategic endeavour for many forward-thinking companies.
According to a study published in 2017 by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), companies that promoted collaborative working were five times as likely to be high performing. The researchers found that the key to productive collaboration is purpose. Once that purpose has been established, it is critical to ensure that the actual work environment supports and nurtures collaborative working. This, arguably, is where the right technology tools and platforms play a major role in success.
For small and medium-sized businesses, regardless of the industry type, there are now various tools available to foster more collaborative working environments. In many cases, these tools are either free or available at low cost – provided the business has robust connectivity in place. Indeed, connectivity is the core element when it comes to maximizing the tools and platforms available for SMEs today…
Connecting Teams & Individuals Across the World
Today, there are high performing video conferencing products that are designed to enable remote working and real-time sharing. For example, Skype for Business, which is soon to be integrated into Microsoft Teams, allows leaders, managers and teams to connect remotely – from anywhere – across most devices. This tool allows for instant collaboration during meetings, and also provides video-based screen sharing for greater clarity and understanding. Notably, it is designed for seamless integration with other Office 365 tools like OneDrive and SharePoint. This is a fantastic tool for connecting team members or workers in different locations, allowing for travel-free, low cost, face-to-face engagement.
Harnessing the Cloud for file & data sharing
In today’s multimedia-rich work environment, it has become imperative for teams and individuals to be able to instantly share – and store – large files. Unsurprisingly, the emergence of the Cloud has led to an array of sophisticated, low cost and easily accessible online file-sharing platforms. For example, SharePoint is a web-based, collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office 365. SharePoint is often just sold as a document management and storage system, but the product is highly configurable and usage varies. Google’s answer to SharePoint is Google Drive and, being ‘born in the cloud’, some people may find it easier to use, although less configurable. It boasts unlimited storage and incredible compatibility across devices and operating systems. Another popular tool is WeTransfer, a cloud-based file transfer service. Users can send up to 20GB at a time (using WeTransfer Plus) and store up to 100GB.
Strategic Communication through Instant Messaging
Today, instant messaging has become an invaluable business tool, allowing teams and leadership to make quick and informed decisions where necessary. Many platforms allow for instant messaging, and products such as Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts include many useful features. For example, Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace within Office 365 that allows communities, groups, or teams to join through a specific URL or invitation sent by a team administrator or owner. Its rival, Google Hangouts, includes instant messaging, video chat, SMS and VOIP features. The service can be accessed online through Gmail websites, or mobile apps available for Android and iOS.
For SMEs looking to bolster productivity, innovation and yes, collaboration, these tools can undoubtedly kickstart the journey and foster a new and dynamic approach to work…