Employees require maximum flexibility when it comes to working from different locations at different times. At the same time, information needs to be shared between employees, management, and companies while simultaneously working on it. The solution is long known: digital tools like remote access programs, instant messaging, shared network drives, or phone conferencing provide the needed platform for working together time-independent and location-independent. But organizations face challenges when evaluating whether the collaboration tool is the right choice, whether people might need new skills, or whether the success of communication and collaboration is measurable.
While digital collaboration is presumed to make working together more effective and efficient, organizations need to provide some basic principles about the introduction and usage of these tools. Otherwise the risk of not using them to their full potential is too high. Instead of supporting digital collaboration for the wrong reasons – or no clear reason at all – help your organization by asking three questions about digital collaboration tools.
Ask about the need: Don’t accept a simple answer when asking for the “Why.”
Integrating digital collaboration tools might seem easy at first, but the real question is about the need and the desired success of the tool. Evaluate whether the tool is supposed to help you with overcoming distance and time, support you with a transparent workflow structure, or enhance your digital competency. If the need for a digital collaboration tool is based on the simple idea of “being more digital,” think about something else. It is helpful to get together with your colleagues and clients before deciding about a certain tool and discuss individual expectations and needs when it comes to collaborating digitally.
Ask about functionality: Decide on the collaboration scope in order to pick the right functionality.
The market offers quite a variety of tools, therefore a timely evaluation can make a crucial difference. Trying free trial versions can be helpful to get a first impression of the tool. When choosing a tool with a long-term focus, have one thing in mind: You will want the collaboration on a digital platform to be simple and fast. Experiencing time loss by having to learn how to access the new platform and how to navigate through it will demotivate users and the tool will eventually not be used. Defining the scope of your digital collaboration purpose allows for a limitation of functionalities within the tool to guarantee best usage.
Ask about viability: Continuously improve your mode of digital collaboration.
Integrating digital collaboration tools into the organization’s way of working allows for an instant contact, quick replies and continuous exchange. However, being available at all times needs some arrangements as well. When providing a collaboration tool take care of how intensively it is used. Collaborating digitally should not hinder people from getting their jobs done, rather provide them with more options on saving distant travelling and timely meetings. Integrating continuous feedback from users on how digital platforms for collaboration improve their day-to-day life should be the organization’s aspiration.
Overall, digital collaboration can be used as leverage when it comes to communication options where face-to-face interaction is not possible or simply not necessary. An immediate response makes your organization able to act within the requirements of today’s digital world. However, in order to sustainably integrate digital collaboration into your organization, it is essential to follow some ground rules and ask the right questions. In the end, the users – your employees, the client, yourself – will decide whether communication without face-to-face contact can be successful or not.