Collaboration is the act of working with others to achieve a common goal. The concept of collaboration can be intimidating for many workers. But when paired with the challenges of using modern technology and the latest collaborative tools, your project can easily be delayed by poor adoption or lack of training.
Without proper training, execution, and communication many things can go wrong between your project's start time and deadline.
Here, we will be identifying the common and potential challenges of collaborative tools in the workplace, and presenting corresponding solutions and scenarios to help you and your team work together more effectively.
You may see that some of these challenges directly affect one another. But don't panic ... there are simple solutions to each of these potential problems, and in today's article I'll explain the steps you can take to overcome those, and make the most of your investment in modern collaborative tools and technology.
Let's start with one of the biggest issues we see with workplace adoption of collaborative tools:
Lack of Training
When you adopt a new office suite or collaborative tool, you need to train your employees, regardless of how easy it may seem to use that technology.
Even if we are living in the digital age, not everyone is familiar with using collaboration tools online. And even if your workers have used these tools or technology like them before, everyone in your office may be familiar with the specific best practices and powerful features they can utilize to collaborate in the cloud.
Lack of training can therefore manifest as a potential challenge of collaborative tools in three different ways:
- Improper Use and Execution: If a person is unfamiliar with the platform presented, incorrect use can take place. A prime example would be a user imputing their work in a section meant for edits or comments. This doesn’t just apply to document based programs but can also occur in other platforms such as a company chat room, a user might not know that you are supposed to tag members or they may not know how to access different messages and channels in the first place.
- Project Delays: In response to improper use and execution, your team's project can easily be delayed. If a team member makes a mistake in the way they use the tools you've provided, then extra time will be required to compensate for this loss of efficiency. For example, if a member of your team has been working in the wrong channel, it will take time to transfer the work into the proper channel. If the team member is not briefed properly on what they did wrong, then it is bound to happen again, and bad habits become part of your company workflow.
- Waste of Subscriptions: If team members do not know how to properly use their collaboration tools then they will not be able to optimize the subscription. For example, if your business is using an enterprise G Suite subscription which is priced as $25 per user per month, but your team members do not know how to use all the features then you will not be getting your money worth with the service.
Solutions to This Challenge
Ultimately, the way you'll overcome this potential challenge of collaborative tools comes down to training.
There are a few ways you can do this:
- Team Briefing: You can call for a meeting wherein you will be discussing the features of the collaboration tools and even provide a demonstration. This can be on site training so that you can easily identify who is having difficulties navigating the platform.
- Video Demos: In addition to an in person meeting, you can also have a recorded video demonstration so that your team members can have a point of reference. The best way to execute this would be after a few days after the collaboration so that you can compile your team’s concerns and directly address them in the demonstration.
- One-on-One Training: Some people really do need more help. After a team briefing and video demonstration, you can then identify who needs a 1 on 1 training session. Not everyone is quick to admit they need help, or not everyone knows that they need it. Proper observation and monitoring of member productivity is needed to properly address these issues.
Subscriptions and Optimization
As we have touched on the issue of tools not being optimized and wasting a subscription service, this is also a good time to ask yourself and your team if you really need a paid package. Here are a few factors that you will want to consider:
- Collaboration Size: How many people will be collaborating on this project? Can you get by using individual tools or are integrations needed for this project?
- Project Length: How long will this project go on for? Will you still be using these tools after the project is over?
- Tools Being Used: Do you really need all the tools used in the subscription you are purchasing? Or can you get by using individual tools?
After considering the factors above, there is still the issue of what type of subscription you want to purchase. Even after you have included that a subscription would be best because of collaboration size and project length, you will want to consider the subscription itself in that all tools will be in use even after the project is over.
Do not just go for the plan that offers the most features. Discuss with your team and assess which tools you will be using and which tools are not necessary. This way you get the most out of your subscription.
Too Many Different Tools
If your team has decided that a subscription service is not the best option, there are still ways to get the most out of your project using different collaboration tools.
The problem, however, is when there are too many disparate tools being used.
This leads to confusion, miscommunications, and sometimes even forgotten passwords and under-utilized tools (i.e. waste).
The easiest solution is to have a few central tools or licenses that everyone uses.
This can be a chat room designated for your project, or this can be a single platform wherein everyone collaborates like the collaborative apps in G Suite.
For example, if your team is working on a presentation each member can do their research, design graphics, edit photos on different platforms but at each come back to the shared Google Slides or PowerPoint presentation to collaborate, build, and publish their final presentation or pitch-deck.
The concept of collaborative tools is to work together without being together, and this approach to cloud-based collaboration has been a real boon to businesses during the pandemic.
Anyone can work on a project at any time from any location.
While this is a great innovation in terms of convenience, these powerful collaborative tools and the ability to collaborate 24/7 has blurred the line between personal and professional time.
Just because these tools allow you to work 24/7, doesn’t mean that you should. Nor does it mean that you have to.
There are a number of ways that you can prevent broken boundaries between your personal time and project time.
Each solution has something to do with effective communication. The best way to combat this challenge is by addressing work hours and non work hours with your team.
Adopting new technology does not necessarily mean adopting a new lifestyle all together. This means that in your team meetings and briefings there should be set boundaries in place.
- Personal vs Professional Accounts: If the platform you are using requires you to log in with an email address, your team should be briefed and required to use separate professional email accounts which are strictly work related.This allows inboxes to stay separate and keeps a professional and uniform online working environment.
- Hours of Operation: You can also hold a seminar regarding netiquette and proper communication hours. While online tools are available online and can be used at any time, nobody should be required to respond outside working hours. Make sure to set conference times within the working day or times that are convenient for everyone and to be considerate when sending messages.
Overcoming the Potential Challenges of Collaborative Tools
Collaborative tools are a great way to make sure that all hands are on deck and keep the project rolling. These tools give team members more freedom in how they manage their time and allow them the comfort in finishing work and collaborating from anywhere.
However, without proper training and advisory, tools can easily be misused which can result in delays in your project, or a waste of a subscription.
A solution common to all the challenges presented above is effective communication which can be used in briefing, training, and conducting discussions. All of which are great ways to make the most out of your collaboration.
Suitebriar offers a range of options (including on-site training) to businesses adopting G Suite's cloud-based collaborative tools to help you empower your employees with the knowledge and skills they need to maximize your investment in the cloud.