There’s no question that businesses are getting more done in this new connected age. With increasing access to information and people, teams can consist of talent sourced from all over the world. But bringing together capable individuals doesn’t guarantee success. For collaboration to work, the right tools need to be adopted and used. Flexibility through mobility and seamless workflow are mandatory for maximizing productivity. Work and communication must transfer smoothly from desktop to tablet to mobile device.
Many companies struggle as much to incorporate new gadgets as they do with the technology itself. Integrating the right tech tools is crucial for success, however. Mobile platforms and cloud file and workspace management software effectively free businesses and their employees from location and/or time constraints.
So how exactly are employees staying in touch? What’s the business’ primary currency? Ideas? Strategy? Sales? Consider the following critical factors before taking your company mobile.
Use your smartphones
Smart devices have raised the expectations of consumers and business leaders. Everything from file sharing to virtual meetings and research can be done from anywhere, on the go. The most-used mobile features for collaboration include email, instant messaging (IM), and web conferencing tools. Team members can receive feedback and updates, and stay in touch through email. IM makes multitasking easier and quicker, and video conferencing allows for full face-to-face communication.
Don’t overlook the pitfalls of wi-fi, though. Investing in cellular-based wireless hotspot devices will broaden employees’ Internet access—and enhance your security—while keeping costs low.
Using the cloud
If a business plans to increase mobility, the cloud is the best option available. It no longer makes sense to go the route of a private infrastructure. The cloud offers in-house services, and many management and security options compatible with tablets, smartphones, and computers. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies offer different products, but all deal with similar functions.
Employees should not be signing onto any old network; rather, they should use cloud-based workspace and file-sharing options. This way, team members can see what other co-workers are working on and exchange ideas fluidly.
Software once designed for consumer purposes is also gaining headway in the business world. For instance, technology such as Google Hangouts (a multi-screen video conferencing program) offers industrial applications. Similar software, such as VMWare Octopus and Microsoft SkyDrive Pro, are following suit.
Using cloud-based telephone systems
Smartphones are still phones, and (believe it or not!) people still make calls. Cloud-based phone systems solve the problem of the limitations posed by multiple numbers. Employees often have office landlines and mobile numbers. Cloud systems allow them to answer office calls and access videoconferencing from cellphones while keeping personal mobile numbers private.
Don’t forget the social aspect
The more mobility incorporated, the more urgent online social features become. When workers don’t share a physical space, elements of human connection get lost. It’s known that the stronger a team’s camaraderie, the more productive the team. Starting online book clubs, fitness groups, and employee chat rooms promotes team bonding. Programs like Sqwiggle allow co-workers to “drop by” and chat with one another.
The rules of employees socializing in the virtual world are the same as the real world. Common interests, as well as shared ideas and principles, unite people. Team building is essential for a strong business core.
Cloud and web collaboration tools come with an additional benefit: If 40 percent of Americans worked from home only half the time, it would reduce greenhouse emissions by 5 million tons. That’s a pretty astounding number. The environmental advantages of reducing travel and material costs are undeniable—not to mention the money saved by companies. Simply using Google Docs to share all drafts and memos cuts down paper use significantly.
Businesses considering overhead costs should take advantage of mobility and telecommunicating options. Software is available for every aspect of connecting and collaboration. The added benefit to the environment can also be good for morale.
Mobile collaboration tools can enable a workforce to conduct business and share information more efficiently, providing an innovative advantage. Poorly implemented mobility can be a disaster. Preparing a strategy ahead of time is also advised. When tools are implemented correctly, social collaboration can be the difference between growth and stagnation.
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