In the modern workplace, teamwork is one of the most important ways to achieve success. So, for teamwork to be effective, it’s important for companies to adopt modern work practices and technologies that help co-workers, wherever they are, share their work in a simple and efficient way. Collaboration tools are a standalone application or integrated suite of applications that act as a centralized workspace for teams, helping connect users even across different geographic locations. These tools facilitate and streamline communication and collaboration among teams, helping individual users contribute to the shared team and/or organization goals.
Examples of Collaboration Tools
Microsoft Office 365 for Business
When you think of business applications, Microsoft undoubtedly comes to mind. MS Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel—these applications have ruled the business space since they first launched in the 1980s.
Microsoft SharePoint helps organizations collect and analyze key business data in order to gain an accurate and actionable view of business operations. The solution enables users across organizations to monitor and analyze critical business data from desktops, smartphones or any Internet-enabled device. Using Microsoft SharePoint, users from across the company can collaborate effectively by setting up websites for sharing information.
Skype for Business is a hybrid voice messaging solution that enables teams and individuals across the world to communicate and collaborate. It offers both cloud-based and on-premise solutions. This solution allows users to interact via text messaging, audio and high-definition (HD) video communication. It supports collaboration through video conferencing that can support multiple people using phone or internet. With Skype for Business, online meetings can also be recorded for use later on. Since the solution is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office applications, it enables users to share files and make presentations on the call.
Yammer is a private cloud-based social network that enables employees to collaborate across departments, locations, content and business applications. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes. It also enables the creation and joining of private and public groups for small-team collaboration along with instant sharing of important updates within a group. Yammer offers a mobile application for iOS and Android devices that provides employees an opportunity to collaborate and review documents anywhere and anytime.
Google Apps for Business (G-Suite)
Google Apps for Business, or G-Suite, is the strictly cloud-based competitor of Office 365. Applications include Gmail, Docs, Drive, Sheets, and Slides; these are the equivalent apps for Outlook, Word, SharePoint, Excel and PowerPoint.
Google has offered messaging, voice calling and video calling services to users in some form or another for over a decade. Starting with the launch of the Hangouts platform in 2013, Google began tying these services together into a business-grade package that supports 21st-century workplace collaboration.
For example, Hangouts can be accessed in a variety of ways across multiple devices, including:
The desktop app (for Google’s Chrome OS and Windows)
The browser plugin (for Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari)
The mobile app (for Android and iOS)
The Hangouts website
Google+ (Google’s social media network)
Slack is one of the most popular workplace collaboration tools, it is a standalone communication app that offers chat, video conferencing and file sharing. Slack’s basic plan is free for teams of any size, which makes it a popular choice for internal teams who want to centralize their communication platforms. To counter the fact that it is a standalone tool, Slack offers an impressive app directory, i.e., a list of pre-built integrations with other business applications. The pre-built integrations help ensure seamless data transfer and file sharing. The app directory includes categories for office management, project management as well as payment processing and accounting.
Atlassian’s HipChat is perhaps the best direct comparison to Slack. The product includes centralized communication by way of group chat, video conferencing and file sharing.
Benefits of Workplace Collaboration
Faster-Paced Innovation: The diverse expertise and viewpoints of your team will make problem-solving easier and faster. Keeping everyone up to date on project progress, new opportunities, and potential challenges help spur dialogue, so you can accelerate the design and implementation of solutions.
Increased Efficiency for Remote Teams: Online collaboration tools are especially useful for teams with remote workers because everyone can routinely update (and stay updated on) progress, from anywhere. Open collaboration also reduces the likelihood that remote employees feel soiled and encourages them to actively participate.
Employee Skill-Building: When working together and given equal opportunity to share, employees can learn from each other as they pool talents and strengths, thus expanding their skill sets and allowing self-analysis of their own knowledge. And since collaboration often requires input from various teams, you also bolster cross-departmental relationships. In addition, new employees can learn faster when placed on collaborative teams.
Increased Employee Satisfaction: Workplace collaboration helps create an environment where employees feel valued for their unique skills as well as their input. Having happy employees not only positively impacts company culture, but can also lead to increased retention.
More Satisfied Customers: When employees have greater, faster access to information, via their colleague in a collaborative environment, they can provide solutions more quickly, which leads to happier customers and, often, continued business relationships.
In conclusion, businesses have several options when choosing a workplace collaboration platform and it’s important they choose the right fit for their needs. As you can see from the above product comparisons, collaboration functionality can vary drastically from product to product. An organization might need a suite of business apps, while another may only need a supplemental chat tool. Or vice versa. As such, it’s important to understand the various tools on the market and how each will align with the organizational goals.