Collaboration is key when it comes to running a successful business, but empowering collaboration between employees and between teams can be a major challenge for organizations of all sizes. Many companies turn to technology for answers, investing a lot in web-based collaboration tools for businesses and business management software — only to discover that spending big on collaboration software doesn’t actually lead to change.
So, why are these companies not seeing the ROI they thought they would? The simplest answer is that they chose collaboration tools without thinking deeply enough about the way a modern workforce actually works.
In this post, we look at why it’s more important than ever to encourage collaboration, what businesses need to consider when they’re looking for the ideal web-based collaboration tool, and why Blink’s employee app can enhance teamwork in companies with a mix of in-office, remote, deskless, and frontline workers.
Why Is Collaboration So Important?
Chances are that your company is facing stronger competition than at any other time. You need to do anything and everything you can to gain a competitive advantage, from changing your approach to corporate communication to thinking differently about information management to revamping processes and procedures. Collaboration is an element of all of those, which is why enhancing collaboration at your company can have such a major impact on efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction.
Workers with access to effective collaboration tools for businesses are:
More creative — Healthy coworker relationships breed creative thinking because employees can easily bounce ideas off one another, merge ideas, or build on old processes to create new ones.
More efficient — Working in teams means pooling the talents, knowledge, and strengths of all involved. Work is completed with greater efficiency when everyone can contribute by doing what they do best.
Growth-oriented — Employees who have the opportunity to see and analyze how others work will pick up new skills and new approaches from colleagues.
More productive — Collaboration speeds up delivery times because progress happens in leaps and bounds. A problem that might take one person one month to solve may be solved in days or even hours when a team is tackling it.
Happier — In teams, employees are able to focus on what they can contribute without stressing out about what they can’t.
All of this adds up to the fact that investing in the right collaboration tools for your business means work will get done better and faster, no matter where employees are.
The Factors Driving the Need for Better Collaboration Tools for Business
What’s wrong with the old forums and basic employee intranets? A lot. Before robust, integrated solutions like Blink came along, employers had to cobble together communications solutions that included lots of applications and platforms. They’d need a web-based collaboration tool plus staff management tools, information sharing tools, admin tools, and more. Employees spent a lot of time tracking down resources and app switching—time that could otherwise have been spent actually working. Here’s why more and more companies are looking beyond chat rooms and basic intranets:
A Need for More Robust Knowledge Management
Modern collaboration tools for business have to include some mechanism for saving, retrieving, and sharing a company’s information assets. You can’t collaborate effectively without facilitating knowledge retention and sharing because if employees are busy trying to track down hard-to-find documents and data, they’re not going to have time to collaborate in any meaningful way.
The Rise of the Remote and Deskless Workforce
More and more employees across industries are working from home, working remotely, or spending the majority of their time in the field. And among those that aren’t, many spend little or no time working at a desk. When a company’s collaboration efforts don’t engage these employees, they’re almost certainly doomed to failure because remote and deskless employees have to feel like a real part of the team to contribute fully.
An Increase in Virtual Teams
Thanks to super-fast broadband and cloud computing, today’s workers often have to work closely with colleagues who are thousands of miles away. When employees are spread out geographically, collaboration can only happen when internal communication is a priority. Virtual teams need to be able to work together as easily as teams in the same office do.
How to Think About Collaboration Tools for Your Business
Collaboration software is any application that connects teams. This can be anything from a company Slack—a standalone tool that meets a single need—to multi-function mobile intranet software like Blink that is a larger communications solution.
Ideally, collaboration tools need to be part of an integrated system instead of just a way to share information back and forth. The best collaboration tools can automate communication between the tools and apps your workforce is already using so employees spend less time switching between programs when collaborating because they can access all the platforms efficiently through integrations and single sign on.
This is what you need to think about when your goal is to find the best mobile or web-based collaboration tools:
Your Team’s Current and Ideal Methods of Collaboration
Before you invest in a collaboration platform, you need to consider how your employees prefer to collaborate. Research shows that a majority of workers are still using email as a primary collaboration tool but that email threads are widely considered to be ineffective and frustrating.
One way to find out how your employees are currently collaborating and how they would collaborate in an ideal world is to send out a poll. Would they rather be using an all-in-one communications solution like Blink to collaborate? Do remote and frontline workers feel disconnected from colleagues? When reporting, are they spending more time finding reports than filling out and submitting them? What are their pain points? And conversely, what is currently working well?
What a Robust Solution Looks Like
As noted above, some collaboration tools for business do little more than allow people (or teams) to talk to one another. In some cases, these simple tools actually restrict collaboration by limiting attachment sizes or not archiving chats. These standalone solutions might better be thought of as communications platforms or conferencing tools instead of collaboration tools.
It’s important to remember that collaboration is about more than communication and that most employees (whether in-office or in the field) now have multiple channels of communication available, from voice calls to text messages to chat to conferencing tools.
Robust collaboration tools like Blink are more than just communications platforms. Blink is actually a comprehensive project management solution that connects colleagues and teams across channels. Collaboration is easy when people can not only communicate, but also access information and files in a central location, work together on it, drill down priorities, check on the status of work, push out updates to whoever else is involved in a project, and give insights into how people are working together.
The Prime Features to Look for in Collaboration Software
When you look at what types of features employees either want in collaboration software or tend to use most, you’ll find that messaging is high up on the list along with document retrieval and sharing, as well as being able to communicate in some kind of activity feed.
You could, of course, invest in multiple platforms for collaboration: one that supports chat or messaging, one to handle document management/file sharing, and a simple company intranet, but it makes much more sense to find collaboration tools that do all that and more if you’re planning to replace your current system.
Blink simplifies collaboration around real time data. Your team members not only see a personalized feed that shows updates from their most important applications, but they see news, polls, and other social updates from their colleagues too. It also has a powerful group chat, a directory, a shared hub for files, search, and analytics.
The Challenges You’ll Face When Deploying Any Software Solution
Knowing what to look for in collaboration tools for your business is only the first step. Identifying a solution won’t be the end to all of the challenges you’ve faced. The next hurdle you’ll need to overcome is getting employees to use the software. That’s where management plays an important role. To get your workforce to go all in when it comes to a new collaboration tool, management needs to go all in, too. Your job will be to show them the way by using it yourself and by having your comms team transfer all relevant documents and data into the tool. Remember that collaboration depends on effective Internal communication.
The importance of collaboration in the workplace is nothing new. What is changing rapidly is the approach that businesses have to take to stay competitive. It’s no longer about putting people in the same room and hoping great ideas emerge because more often than not, the colleagues that need to work together can no longer just congregate in that one room.
Maybe half of your workforce is halfway around the world (or behind a counter or on the road 100% of the time). Maybe you’re boosting employee engagement by letting your top talent work from home. Or maybe yours is an industry like transportation or healthcare where it’s always been the norm for employees to be away from a desk. Whatever your collaboration challenges are, it’s worth looking at your company’s approach to teamwork with fresh eyes. Collaboration tools like Blink can bring all of your employees into the fold and make it easier for people and teams to come together in pursuit of your company’s common goals.
Blink is one of the best and most comprehensive collaboration tools for business out there today. Find out how it can take your company’s internal communications strategy into the modern age. Request a Demo.