Are you using the right team collaboration tools?
By: Emily Finlay
Businesses and teams no longer work in silos. You can see this shift in the way that the modern office has moved away from cubicles and adopted open plan workspaces. Even when every employee is working from home, businesses emphasize teamwork and constant communication.
Team collaboration keeps your remote team connected, but it also taps into the incredible things people can achieve when they work together. In any industry or department, teamwork improves employee engagement, business flexibility, creativity, productivity, and more.
Before you throw your team together with a problem to solve, you first need to provide the tools they need to work together most effectively. From communication to documentation, these resources will empower the tasks and conversations they pursue. They will also keep your team focused on doing their best work.
Keep your remote team collaborating and succeeding with ease by providing the team collaboration tools included below.
What are the best team collaboration tools?
The best team collaboration tools are the ones that enhance, rather than restrict, your team’s efforts. Look for resources that enable constant communication, productive brainstorming, efficiency, and optimal results.
In this article, we’ve broken the tools you need into the types of capabilities they offer. With these tools, your team will be ready to tackle any project you give them together.
This category of tools is almost always at the top of the list because good communication is essential to collaboration. Though emails and the occasional phone call may be enough for some projects, they will only slow and complicate a team effort. This is even more true for remote teams. When gathering your collaboration tools, it’s most important to find communication options that can be used for two main purposes: meetings and quick, in-project conversations.
Collaboration tools for meetings
If you don’t have a way to bring your team together in one space (even if it’s a virtual space), they will struggle to collaborate. It’s especially important today, when your team includes members that are connecting remotely. Even though you are separated by distance, tools like video conferencing enable direct conversations with everyone involved. You will be able to see everyone, ensuring every person is engaged and invested in the discussion.
Collaboration tools for quick communication
Jumping on a video call every time you have a question or want feedback is inefficient. Instead, look for tools that offer an instant messaging option. Apps like Slack, for instance, enable quick messages between your team members. They can quickly resolve any obstacles that might otherwise halt productivity.
You can also create separate channels for specific parts of the project to keep the dialogue focused. This prevents notification and message overload for those who aren’t involved in those specific areas. Your team will be able to tackle tasks much quicker and effectively with communication options that won’t disrupt their workflow.
Team collaboration tips
Some teams like to use texting, but it is typically much harder to track multiple conversations with the same participants. We recommend using an option made specifically for chatting.
Now that you have a way to bring your remote team together to collaborate, you also need tools to use during your meetings. Just like you would use a whiteboard or large poster board to keep track of notes and ideas during an in-person meeting, you need a tool that can help you do the same for your virtual meetings.
MindManager is a particularly great option for these needs. You can use it to centralize team knowledge around your project. With a knowledge map, for instance, you can keep track of who knows what. Your team will know who to go to for any information they need. This ensures that you can capitalize on your team’s strengths and experience, streamlining the work you have to do.
Once you have all of the information you need, you can then start brainstorming potential options for the project itself. Create mind maps, idea maps, or any other data visualization that represents the ideas you create. These graphics will help keep the ideas flowing to help you find the best options for your work.
Team collaboration tips
As you build these visualizations, every team member should have them open on their screens. This helps your team follow the thought flow and offers the opportunity for everyone to contribute.
Project management tools
Team projects tend to have many moving parts. Help your team stay organized and on-track with project management tools. As they collaborate, these tools help everyone coordinate their separate tasks and responsibilities. You can make sure nothing is overlooked and keep everything moving smoothly.
Tools such as Asana or Trello, for example, offer a single place to store and track your progress. You can assign tasks to specific team members and add all relevant details within the app. Rather than having to reach out to everyone individually for progress updates, you can use a project management tool to ensure everything is getting done.
Seamless organization enables strong collaboration. Project management tools make everyone’s roles clear, eliminating potential conflicts and setbacks. Since you can store files and information within these tools, your team will remain efficient and productive. Keep your team on the same page (literally!) by managing your project with the right tools.
Team collaboration tips
During your weekly team meetings, it’s a good idea to review and, if necessary, update your project’s progress. Many project management tools use versions of a Kanban board to organize projects, so use these weekly discussions to keep your tools up-to-date.
For the most effective use of one of these tools, it’s important to follow a project plan. You can use a tool like MindManager to create a timeline of the project and to break it up into specific stages. With these visual representations of the work you need to do, your team can collaborate with better results. Everyone will have the full vision and goals for the project laid out clearly, enabling their best work.
Community creation tools
Once your team understands the project plan, it’s time to get to work. The specific tools that you need to accomplish your specific work will vary depending on industry, but there are several tools that almost every team can use.
Many projects, for instance, involve some type of writing or documentation. These tasks benefit from using a cloud-based suite of office tools, such as Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. You can write text documents, create presentations, track data in spreadsheets, and more. Most importantly for a remote team, these tools operate in real time. You can all work in the documents at the same time, building off of each other’s ideas.
When these documents are ready for use, you can then import them directly into your MindManager project plans or visualizations. Adding them directly to the relevant tasks or stages streamlines your effort. You won’t need to waste time looking for the right information at the right time. Instead, your resources will be ready exactly when you need them.
Team collaboration tips
Depending on the type of work you do, you can likely find the tools you need with cloud-based functionality. This type of software not only allows your team to work on the same tasks without delays, it empowers peer-driven excellence. Rather than catching mistakes that one person made after they complete their task, for example, another team member can spot and resolve them in real time. Your projects will move much faster and with fewer issues.
Workforce management tools
Remote teams complicate some of the more simple parts of running a team. Your coworkers may not even be in the same city, let alone the same state or country. Because of this, you may need to accommodate different scheduling needs, such as multiple time zones or home lives that don’t work with the typical 9-to-5.
One of the tools to consider to keep your team on a schedule that allows collaboration is a shared calendar tool. You can create shifts that work with individual needs while ensuring that your team is able to work together. If someone has a question for a specific person, they can easily see when that person is available. Your team meeting schedule will also be available and visible for everyone.
With so many people working from home, a time tracking tool is another important addition to your team collaboration toolbox. You can’t physically see when people are “arriving” or “leaving” work when everyone is working remotely. A time-tracking tool gives everyone a reliable way to track their hours. It also allows you to track the amount of time given to your collaborative projects so you can accurately charge your customers.
Team collaboration tips
Great teams don’t just work well together but enjoy building relationships with each other. Part of your workforce management should include organizing social events that encourage team bonding. The more your team trusts, respects, and enjoys being around each other, the better your projects and results will be.