By Phil Maurer. Published 27. July 2016.
Workspaces are hardly defined by size or physical location anymore. Thanks to the emergence of collaboration tools, your small business can be run by a network of remote staff spanning the globe.
So when these far-flung teams are working together, what can you get out of a collaboration tool that you can’t already get through conventional digital correspondence like email or social media? Let’s take a look.
Using traditional email to send massive data files clogs inboxes. On top of that, company and private email accounts don’t always provide the best security. It’s a risky move if those files are confidential.
Public cloud storage like Dropbox does simplify sharing large files, but it’s questionable whether it’s more secure than email.
With a unified collaboration tool, however, you have a single location for storing, retrieving, and sharing files with authorized personnel, all while maintaining high levels of data protection. Since private cloud collaboration tools live within your IT infrastructure, you can ensure a secure environment.
Social collaboration tools aren’t so much about the technology as they are about building communication bridges. These tools essentially form a private social network for your company workforce. This provides a secure space where users can disseminate, comment, and edit data.
It also provides a safe space for users to casually interact, share a joke or two, or even make non-company related small talk. This helps build rapport among your team members, many of whom may never meet face to face.
Social collaboration encourages open communication. By sharing data, comments and advice, it’s not long before members identify who is the expert or the go-to person in a particular field.
Collaboration tools can also serve as a hub for a knowledge-sharing session where every person gives and receives information. This encourages teamwork rather than a solo, silo mentality among individuals and departments.
Social collaboration doesn’t have to be limited to the internal workforce. You can create private groups within the network and invite high-profile clients to become a part of your insider group.
Bringing clients into your collaboration workflow and letting them see how the process works behind the scenes shows that transparency matters to your brand. This form of customer nurturing is invaluable for building long-term loyalty.
Just as some form of metrics are needed to identify consumer habits, you also need metrics for identifying staff productivity, which is where collaboration tools can help as many provide analytics for determining key trends, content and user habits.
By understanding the social dynamics and activity within the network, you can better engage with your workforce, both in-house and remote. This is essential for building workplace morale and boosting productivity.
The remote workforce is now the norm rather than the exception in businesses of every size and small businesses are no exception. With social collaboration in your toolbox, you can benefit from combined brainpower, information sharing and ability to track staff communication patterns and productivity and keep your competitive edge.