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Teamwork

Do You Need a Platform for Team Collaboration and Productivity?

For large and small businesses alike, productivity hinges on things like motivation, organization, and engagement. When any one of these elements is strained, it drags down the rest. Fortunately, many platforms for team collaboration were designed specifically to tackle these important challenges.In fact, these same all-in-one workspaces are transforming the way companies of all shapes and sizes do business.

How Collaboration Platforms Are Transforming Business

For many companies supporting a remote or fully distributed team, a centralized collaboration platform is a must. But even brick-and-mortar businesses are catching on to the benefits of virtual collaboration. Hence, the demand for new productivity tools has shifted into high gear.

But how are these platforms actually helping businesses evolve in unique and unexpected ways? Here are a few examples:

  • Limiting the number of separate tools.

Less almost always equals better—in business and in life. Too much of anything can be overwhelming and potentially hurt team productivity—like when team members have to juggle different tools that each solve only one problem. Plus, if those multiple tools are overly complicated to learn or integrate, you may find yourselves back at square one after a lot of wasted time and energy.

A single platform designed for collaboration incorporates a range of useful functions in one virtual workspace, eliminating the need for juggling.

  • Strengthening communication.

Whether your team members work in the office, from home, or a combination of both, having a centralized place to exchange information is critical. A platform for team collaboration creates a highly organized central hub for conversations, file sharing, and real-time updates on projects and tasks. So, everyone on the team can leverage vital resources and stay informed even as they’re working on separate tasks or projects.

  • Providing flexibility.

Once a novel concept only tech giants embraced, flexibility in the workplace is now in high demand. When team members can take charge of their own schedules, they’ll choose hours when they’re most productive and have fewer distractions. It also helps them to find better work-life balance and handle competing obligations, like childcare and visits to the dentist. Remote team members are more than happy to ditch the commute, too—even if it’s only a few days a week.

An online workspace also gives management a lot of flexibility, you can hire the right person for a position even if they live on the other side of the country or across international borders.

  • Heightening security.

Modern cloud-based storage is more secure than ever, and it surpasses anything that a locked file cabinet or on-site server could offer in terms of protection. Employee records, company finances, and sensitive client data can be stored and accessed safely. So can your day-to-day tasks, project timelines, and team communications. A collaboration platform allows you to set rules and permissions to better organize participants’ involvement in projects and to reduce the chance of a breach. Some risks, like losing physical documents, are offset altogether.

  • Maximizing individual skill sets.

When people are working toward a shared goal without feeling micromanaged, they tend to be more confident about what they can offer. They’re less shy about making suggestions and spearheading new approaches. A workspace platform that functions as a real-time collaboration tool frees team members to contribute in their own unique ways and candidly communicate ideas.

Choose a Platform for Team Collaboration and Productivity

Your team’s workflow may not need a complete overhaul, but overall productivity and engagement stand to benefit from a team collaboration platform. Small companies on tight budgets need effective ways to manage team tasks, track workloads, and consolidate resources. Large organizations need help managing complex projects simultaneously and reporting on the team’s progress.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes want their teams to feel connected, and internal chat features make conversation a regular part of the workday—whether those chats revolve around a project, pet photos, or icebreakers that help team members get to know each other better. Don’t underestimate the productive potential of personal connection and collaboration.

With the help of Flow, your team will collaborate more efficiently and enjoy the journey. Whether your company is small, large, or in between, a platform for team collaboration works. Check it out today with a free trial!

May 28, 2020

Re:work

Do I Have to Socialize with Teammates After Work?

In our new series, re:work, our columnist tackles the tough situations that arise when working as a team. From appropriate use of shared space, to getting quick answers from remote teammates, we’re breaking down what troubles you, and helping you fix it. 

“Dear re:work,

My coworkers like to go out drinking after work. I’ve joined in a couple of times but it’s not really my scene. I don’t want to be seen as anti-social, or not a team player, but I also don’t feel comfortable in that environment. What do I do?

Sincerely,

Big Homebody”

Submissions may have been edited for length and/or clarity. Submission was made prior to isolation orders.

Dear Big Homebody,

Spending time with your coworkers outside of work is important, there’s no denying that. Not only is it a chance to have some fun, it’s also integral to team bonding. That said, it’s arguably more important to respect your personal boundaries. If you aren’t comfortable going out for drinks, then we just need to adapt!

Communicate Your Needs

Letting your team know how you feel is the first step. Don’t feel pressured to get deep or personal about why you aren’t comfortable going out for drinks. Whether you prefer quieter spaces, or don’t vibe with the atmosphere of alcohol; whatever the reason is, it’s entirely up to you whether you share or not. Not comfortable sharing the reason? Just let them know you’re not a fan of that environment and leave it at that.

Suggest Different Activities

I’ll always advocate that people try new things and step outside their comfort zone. In your case, you’ve tried their way and for whatever reason it didn’t feel right. Instead of forcing yourself to do something that makes you genuinely uncomfortable, try to suggest a different activity. 

Maybe you like board games, sports, or cooking. Whatever it is, plan an event and invite the rest of your team. That way you know it’s within your comfort zone, but you won’t miss out on the ever important team time. Keep suggesting these alternative activities and I’ll bet your team will start to suggest different things too! Once a habit is broken it becomes much easier to continue trying new things.

Dealing with your own weird, frustrating, or downright awful work situation, and need a little help? Email community@getflow.com for a chance to be the subject of our next re:work piece.

May 21, 2020

Productivity

Project Management System Software That Supports Your Team’s Work Style

Whether you work in an office, on a distributed team, or are making the shift to remote work, it’s no secret that project management can come with its challenges. Documents lost, missed deadlines, and lack of communication are just some of the common issues teams face on the regular. It’s true that finding a solution for all of these challenges can be tough to navigate, even when it’s for the best. The good news is that so many of the tech and communication issues are avoidable. But ensuring team members feel fully supported to do their best work goes beyond just avoiding the issues. You need a collaborative system that will set the team up for ultimate success.

Project management system software can help you untangle a broad range of work challenges. The first big step is to find a software solution that offers project management tools that support a diverse range of work styles. It sounds like a tall order, but you’ll discover that some systems do deliver. Let’s look more closely at the benefits of project management software and some of the popular systems that might fit your team’s needs.

What Is Project Management System Software?

At its best, project management system software does exactly what the name implies: it helps teams move from one phase of a project to another without skipping a beat. Team members can create and allocate tasks, track timelines, communicate, and find documents and other resources in one place. The result? streamlined workflows, more productive teams, and less stress overall.

The best project management system will also provide a variety of tools for remote work and key integrations that are not only easy to implement but also intuitive to use. Team collaboration becomes possible even when work styles differ. The right tools should make it easy to get your whole team on track quickly.

Popular Productivity Platforms That Streamline Workflow

Five of the most popular project management platforms are listed below with notes on their core features, prices, and designs. 

Asana

Asana has been around for more than 10 years. In that time, it has grown into one of the most popular software programs, thanks to its range of features and savvy marketing. There’s a lot to Asana, so here’s a peek at what you can expect:

Features

  • Project views help you visualize work, whether you prefer boards, lists, or calendars.
  • Shareable tasks, subtasks, and sections organize project details and meeting agendas.
  • Reports are available in various formats like timeline and portfolio. 
  • Permissions and privacy can be managed by admins.
  • In-app communication centralizes project, team, and social conversations.
  • Unlimited storage for every account (individual files maxed at 100MB).
  • Free trial, credit card required. You’ll be charged after 30 days if you don’t cancel.

Price

  • Basic: Free for individuals and new teams who need to manage their own tasks and to-dos.
  • Premium: Plan and track projects for $13.49/mo per user. 
  • Business: Manage more aspects of team member workloads for $30.49/mo per user. Builds on the Premium subscription with extras, such as a rules builder and app integrations.
  • Enterprise: Price not disclosed—you have to give Asana a call. Includes Business features plus add-ons like SAML and customer support.

Design

At first glance, the busy layout of Asana can be overwhelming, despite all the open white space. Unfortunately, the complexity of the platform, plus the time it takes to learn, does overload a lot of users which can negatively impact team engagement and increase the learning curve for new users on the platform.

Jira

In the beginning, Jira was used to track bugs and other issues for software development teams. But, in the nearly 20 years it has been around, features have expanded to include several aspects of project management. Here are the details:

Features

  • Scrum and Kanban boards visually organize to-dos. Certain features can be turned on or off to individualize workflow.
  • Automation is available for any task or process using the easy drag-and-drop function.
  • Roadmaps track your projects and communication about them.
  • Agile reporting provides real-time updates in a variety of charts, diagrams, and graphs.
  • Custom filters can be written with Jira Query Language (JQL).
  • Integration with third-party apps gives you access to various coding and chat tools.
  • Free trial for seven days, no credit card required.

Price

  • Free: Limited functionality for up to 10 users. Includes 2GB of storage.
  • Standard: More robust features for $10/month for up to 10 users. Eleven users or more are priced at $7/mo each. Includes 250GB of storage.
  • Premium: Access to all features for $14/mo per user for up to 5,000 people. Unlimited storage included. 

Design

Despite how long it has been around, Jira isn’t well-loved by many of its users—and that has a lot to do with the design. The developers aimed for clean, colorful lines, but ended up with a stark and jumbled look that isn’t intuitive to use. It’s still primarily designed to work best for software development teams.

Basecamp

Making its first appearance 20 years ago, Basecamp is one of the earliest project management platforms. So, it has the benefit of time and experience on its side. Here’s what else it has:

Features 

  • To-do lists act as tasks and can be assigned to one or more people. You can also add notes or files, make comments, and set due dates for yourself and others.
  • File storage is housed in one location for each project. You can drag and drop most file types, color code them, and see version histories. You can link Google Docs here, too.  
  • Schedules reflect daily to-dos and larger project tasks. It works with Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook.
  • Hill charts visually track a project’s progress. You can also add annotations. 
  • Multiple communication channels include private messaging, group chat, and message boards. There’s even a question thread that keeps team check-ins together.
  • Notifications can be scheduled or turned off completely.
  • Free 30-day trial, no credit card required.

Price 

  • Basecamp Personal: Free for up to 3 projects, 20 users, and 1GB of storage.
  • Basecamp Business: $99/month for an unlimited number of projects and users plus 500GB of storage.

Design

Basecamp is designed to be simple and straightforward. But that also gives the software a rigid feel, especially since customization and integrations are limited. Unfortunately, it’s not built for all types of teams, either. Finance teams, in particular, will notice few helpful features.

Trello

Since 2011, simplicity has been the name of Trello’s game. In place of complex features, there are basic boards, lists, and cards. This Kanban-focused platform works well for modest projects and teams. Here’s what you get:

Features

  • Power-Ups allow you to use calendars, create custom fields, and set limits on your lists.
  • Third-party integrations assist with file sharing and communication.
  • Automation lets you schedule commands, notifications, and create usage rules.

Price

  • Free: Unlimited boards, lists, and cards for individuals plus access to 10 team boards.
  • Business Class: $12.50/mo per user. Comes with expanded individual and team features, Power-Ups, automation, admin, and security. Maximum file size is 250MB. 
  • Enterprise: Starts at $20.83/mo per user with discounts for higher numbers of users. A step up from the Business Class option with more admin and security features.

Design

Trello’s design is simplistic, colorful, and easy on the eyes. As long as your project is simple or even of a personal nature, this platform can be a fun way to stay organized. But it lacks a lot of critical features and integrations. If you’re doing more than planning a wedding or starting a very small business, the design may not meet all of your needs and may even bring hours of disorganized frustration.

Flow

Flow provides project management software for small teams, bigger businesses, and fast-growing startups. They work with a variety of nonprofits, too. Flow’s customers love the platform. Here’s why:

Features

  • Multiple workflow options support every unique team and individual. Whether it’s Kanban boards or to-do lists, you’re covered.
  • Comprehensive task feature organizes work by keeping files and communication in one place. You can track due dates, attach files, add comments, and set tags for easy filtering later. There’s even a sidebar where you can choose to follow your team members’ tasks.
  • Project dashboard tracks overarching initiatives in a customizable view.
  • Calendars display timelines for all projects and team members’ tasks, as well as individuals’ schedules.
  • Powerful chat feature lets you set up group chats and one-on-one messaging, and you can personalize your notifications. (Available in Flow X—coming June 2020).
  • Wide-ranging integrations are available so you can keep using your favorite tools. From Dropbox to Slack to Zapier, there isn’t anything you’ll have to give up.
  • A home tab where everything can be seen at a glance, including completed and upcoming tasks for you and your team.
  • A Customizable platform that is easy to make your own with everything from themes to accent colors. (Available in Flow X—coming in June 2020)
  • Free no-obligation trial. No credit card required, and you can cancel anytime.

Price

  • Basic: $6/mo per user. Includes all essential features and some integrations for up to 25 team members. Storage capacity is 50GB.
  • Plus: $8/mo per user. Includes everything you get with the Basic plan for an unlimited number of team members. Storage capacity increased to 250GB.
  • Pro: $10/mo per user. Includes all features and integrations for an unlimited number of team members. Security is increased, and storage capacity is unlimited.

Design

The team at Flow has designed a robust, yet simple, workspace that finds a balance between everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s easy to learn, intuitive to use, and elegantly designed. In fact, Flow’s fans love it, in large part, because the space is so beautiful. For all of the productivity tools out there today, it’s surprising that it’s such an intuitive, enjoyable system.

Your Team Needs Engaging Collaboration Software

One important thing all of these project management software systems have in common is cloud storage to support remote teams from anywhere. But easy accessibility doesn’t guarantee engagement. Real, efficient collaboration happens only when a project management platform runs smoothly and keeps team members excited to log in. The system that combines these elements is the one your team will want to stick with for the long haul.

It’s hard to effectively support a team without a centralized platform that keeps workflows smooth and team members connected. Flow is an easy-to-use project management software platform that does both. Try Flow free today!

May 21, 2020
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