Team Collaboration Tools: Benefits and LimitationsThe Flow TeamLast Updated: April 17, 2020
If your company is experiencing any kind of growth spurt, you’re probably also feeling a productivity pinch—or you’re expecting to any day. Whether you’re adding more employees, expanding a product or service line, or taking on new clients, the old adage that things tend to get worse before they get better is not exactly a confidence-booster. It’s probably doing wonders for your anxiety levels, though.
You don’t want your business to suffer through growing pains. More importantly, you don’t want your people to feel like their ability to manage and engage in creative flow is being curbed. So, how do you ensure that every transition you, your teams, and your business undergo runs smoothly?
You already know the answer: by implementing strategies that streamline workflow. And, there are few better ways to do this than by using tools designed to facilitate or improve team collaboration. But, just as there are advantages to using team collaboration tools, there are some drawbacks. Let’s quickly take a look at both collaboration tool benefits and limitations, so you, and your team, can get back to good work.
The Top Collaboration Tool Benefits for All Teams
To start, let’s take a look at the top collaboration tools and how they can benefit your team:
- Internal chat so no one is left out of the loop. Internal cloud-based messaging that combines multiple modes of communication into one channel, and that can easily be integrated into other office tools, is essential for reducing the distraction of switch-tasking. Accessing shared information, updates, and project links becomes faster, too. The ideal tool will also integrate easily with chat room apps, like Slack, and be available on multiple devices and mobile operating systems so that whether you love your Apple or Android, you won’t be left out.
- File-sharing integration to reduce information silos. File-sharing integration that lets you and your team use the file hosting, storage, and sharing services of your choice also boosts productivity simply by making everything accessible through one application. Whether you prefer Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box, file-sharing tools that unify others makes distributing information as easy as hitting “enter.”
- Task tracking to help your team prioritize. The ability to track tasks as well as any feedback and files related to those tasks (or the project) makes prioritizing to-dos, logging time spent, and managing deadlines easier and more efficient. It also helps team members more effectively share, or redistribute, workloads in real time. The best task-trackers include dynamic search and filter functions and even let you quickly create tasks from your email, too.
- Guest add-on options so contractors can collaborate seamlessly. Guest add-on options are fairly common in most team collaboration tools, but that doesn’t mean their importance should not be restated. By giving outside, but equally critical, team players access to relevant data in your projects, you not only incentivize collaboration across the board, you streamline communication with clients, partners, and vendors.
- Remote access to remove geographic boundaries. Being able to access client accounts, projects, tasks, files, and notes from any desktop browser and phone is a no-brainer benefit for this day and age. Comprehensive cloud-based tools, particularly when they’re integrated seamlessly into remote-accessible workspaces, remove the geographic barriers that might otherwise impede a company’s progress. When you can hire the right people no matter where they live, the collective potential of all of your teams is no longer just out of reach.
Potential Drawbacks That May Give You Pause
There are really only two drawbacks to using team collaboration tools, but both can—and, maybe, should—give you pause: price and learning curve. The best collaboration tools usually aren’t free, especially as the needs of your teams grow and you find yourself cobbling incompatible tools together. When you’re trying to grow your business, every dollar you spend counts.
Ensuring you spend everyone’s time wisely is equally important. When the learning curve for any tool (or a hodgepodge of tools) eats into productivity, there isn’t a team out there that ends up happy. And, unhappy teams are almost always less creative and less collaborative—the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.
Here’s how and how not to address these issues to keep productivity moving forward:
Don’t: experiment with different tools for different tasks before implementing them company-wide to determine how they may, or may not, add value to your teams. (Sounds like a time-consuming headache that may end up being costly, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it usually is.)
Do: use a single online workspace that not only integrates the best team collaboration tools available, but that’s also designed to be intuitive for all users immediately. (Sound like you might be on the hunt for a unicorn? Fortunately, they’re no longer hard to find.)
To really reduce the possibility of wasting everyone’s time—and your company’s money—purchase one platform to introduce to your teams and stick to it. To increase the chances that you choose the right one, make a list of the benefits your team needs most. Then search for several collaboration tools that provide those benefits. Sign up for the most promising free demos, then pick the one that’s the simplest and most intuitive.
And, don’t bother with multiple test subscriptions; pay for a single platform on a scalable pricing model that has everything you need—and nothing more.
Streamline Workflow Without Adding Any Stress
Choosing a single workspace that combines all the benefits of the best collaboration tools will not only streamline workflow for all of your company’s projects and tasks, it will also reduce everyone’s stress.
When you can increase productivity while simultaneously reducing anxiety (including your own), work starts to feel like play and almost instinctively becomes more collaborative. And, no matter what industry you’re in—or whether your company is growing or you just want your teams to be more effective—the task you can check off your list quickly is offering a better way for people to do great work together.
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