Teamwork is essential for the success of any group project. When colleagues collaborate, their mutual effort contributes to increased work productivity. This digital age has diminished the need for all project members to gather physically. Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic has also reawakened the need to normalize remote working. Employers can utilize multiple online collaboration tools for distance teamwork. The online collaboration promises endless growth for cooperation in a company. An organization can thrive and develop exponentially with these digital communication facilities. Let’s discuss the benefits of online collaboration and why it’s becoming the future of business.
How To Define Online Collaboration?
There are multiple definitions of online collaboration. It’s a phenomenon in which employees work together through the internet. Some believe it’s the process of digital communication among people. Companies may use online collaboration tools (software programs) to let workers interact via text, audio, or video. Coordination, cooperation, and negotiation are vital features of online collaboration. Does this collaboration need to happen in real-time?
- Synchronous collaboration: Employees with shared goals work together at the same time. Skype or Zoom are examples of such cooperation.
- Asynchronous collaboration: Employees collaborate on the same project at different times. Experts believe email is the pioneer of this process.
How Online Collaboration Helps Us?
How will online collaboration affect the future of the business sector? The trend of globalization is widespread in 2020. Multinational companies have offices all over the globe. While face-to-face meetings won’t be obsolete, personal interactions can’t fulfill the world’s commercial needs. The demand for virtual workspaces motivates the corporate sector to choose collaboration via the internet. Easily-available free online collaboration tools benefit companies in the following ways:
- Preference for synchronous collaboration:- Online collaboration tools makes companies less dependent on email. Synchronous communication has liberated us from the slavery of the inbox. By improving messaging functionality, online collaboration helps employees concentrate on the task at hand. It leads us to our next point, i.e., increased productivity.
- Telecommuting is flexible: The trend of “work from home” has saved many companies’ financial structure in 2020. People have worked from their kitchens and in their knickers during the summer of this pandemic. The opportunity to be able to telecommute attracts top talent and retains current employees. Online collaboration contributes to work flexibility.
- Enhancement of productivity:- Companies no longer need to spend on physically accommodating their employees. Hosting online meetings – even urgent ones – is now less expensive than before. Therefore, team members can promptly contribute to the workflow. It’s both comfortable and economic hence good for the overall productivity of the company.
- Excellence in communication:- People are better communicators when they communicate online. It’s easier speaking to your colleagues on a Zoom call than walking down a hallway for a meeting. Tools such as Google Docs allow many team members to track the ongoing changes on a single project. MS Office 365 allows similar collaboration opportunities.
A Few Online Collaboration Examples
We’ve discussed two examples of online collaboration tools in the previous paragraph. Further useful applications include MS Teams, Google Hangouts, and others. These are video-conferencing tools used by many firms. These tools have two distinct categories: project management applications and communication programs. Therefore, Wimi and ProofHub improve a company’s work management. WebEx and Flowdock are communication platforms. Other trends and tools are something like that:
- Naming a few: Some chat apps are allowing text-based communication primarily. Slack and HipChat are particular famous examples. Then we have Trello and Basecamp, which are project management programs. Redbooth and Samepage also provide efficient online collaboration among employees. Some free collaboration tools even offer premium upgrades with more productive features. These tools ensure accountability with flexibility.
- Screen sharing: Screen sharing allows participants of an online meeting to view each other’s desktops. This facility is helpful when there is a lot of miscommunication occurring during a project. Screen sharing boosts the productivity of teamwork and allows immediate technical support. It’s your job to ensure your screen’s only shared when you need everyone to see it. Specific office applications such as TeamViewer allow screen sharing options.
- Video conferences: Skype was a trendy video-calling application until its popularity was overwhelmed by MS Teams. Zoom took over in 2020 when educational institutes normalized its utilization—having a proper meeting agenda before a video conference helps everyone prepare for it. There’s no need to organize a physical gathering. This tool allows managers to summon all employees urgently. FaceTime and WhatsApp are also beneficial in this case.
How To Promote Online Collaboration?
- Security concerns: Collaborating online with your colleagues means more utilization of cloud-based storage services. Some people believe the online collaboration will render a company’s sensitive data vulnerable to hackers. Companies, therefore, must take protective measures to ensure the safety of their valuable information.
- Decision-making problems: Leaders can easily assert dominance in a conference room. But an online meeting might hinder the leader’s authority. Online communication also makes it harder to convey visual/tonal cues. But a digital setting does encourage people to engage in risky decision-making procedures.
- Compatibility complexities: Different companies might use the same software program. But each company has its unique version. This specific and customized version can clash with a different one when two companies collaborate. Companies can choose to utilize a third-party edition. Or they can share these customized applications temporarily.
- Personal boundary issues: Online collaboration does reduce personal interaction among employees. But will it create confusion among workers? People might believe they must be available for work 24/7. Will they be concerned about damage to privacy and personal time? Accountability without physical proximity will also become a dilemma.
The “work from home” trend existed and was increasing even before the onslaught of COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has just accelerated its speed beyond previous calculations. It observed a 44% increase in the last five years and a 91% increase in the past decade. Project managers can incorporate online collaboration techniques into their everyday tasks for more productivity. It helps organizations promote teamwork and allow employees to collaborate in real-time over the internet. People can work together online on various projects via different methods. But they don’t have to be in the same room. This technique allows us to be work-efficient as well as socially-distant.