Collaboration: Making the Most of Technology

There’s no way to fully explore the concept of collaboration in this day and age without talking about technology. The days of waiting to get started or delaying the making of decisions until all parties were in the same room are long gone! Technology allows us to collaborate in real-time and often on a much higher level. By tapping into the vast technological opportunities at our disposal, it opens opportunities for using our time much more effectively and efficiently, allowing our projects to reach new levels as a result.

Here are just a few ways to use technology to the team’s advantage while keeping things organized and streamlined:

  1. Encourage remote work environments

There’s no need to keep people chained to a desk. Inspiration and innovation happen beyond an office setting, so be sure that your collaboration is accessible. If people can’t get to your location, have them work remotely. Sick kids at home? No problem! Relocated to a new town? Easy! As long as members of your group have a computer and wi-fi, and they know how to access documents or use the software, they are perfectly good to go and contribute effectively. In fact, you may find that their contribution is enhanced when they don’t have to juggle a long commute or workplace interruptions.

  1. Use less e-mail

E-mail is becoming the new ‘snail mail’. There are much more collaborative tools like Slack and/or Google Docs where you can communicate/collaborate/connect in real-time, with all hands on deck! As long as your team has the necessary training and knows how to best use these tools, there are really no limits to what you can do. Most of the software is free or low-cost and can do wonders to keep your project’s momentum strong.

  1. Stream on – with more live video

Not only has video quality such as Skype, Facetime, Google+ Hangouts or Zoom improved over the years, but it is also easily accessible from a cell phone, tablet or desktop. It’s important to be able to see and hear others who contribute to the group from time to time, as it helps build your team and create more intimacy or familiarity. You can also look into specific conferencing software if you need clearly-defined presentations, responses, and shared screens.

  1. Use coordination technology

With small, medium and large projects, there are ways to use technology to keep everyone organized.  For example, various software and cloud-based tools can aid with overall project management, team calendars, staff scheduling, and even a basic ‘to do’ list that can be securely accessed by your team, anytime, anywhere.

  1. Don’t get tech crazy

Going tech-crazy can take your eye off the goal and actually slow you down. It can also drain your finances and jam up your systems, leaving little wiggle room for other resources that your collaboration may need. With too many random programs, logins and complicated clicks, your team will be left with their heads in the ‘cloud’ (literally!). Don’t forget you’ll have varying levels of computer expertise within your group, so don’t assume everyone knows how to master each new program. Any technology that is introduced must have clear benefits for the group and the end goal, and come with enough training and support so that it’s not a liability.

  1. Have a backup

If the power goes out, your computers get hacked or some other disaster occurs, will you lose everything? Have digital and paper backups stored carefully; preferably off-site and with more than one person. Don’t forget to keep passwords secure and be careful how you share and store sensitive or confidential information.

  1. Don’t let technology alienate the team

As much as we love what technology does for us, it’s also making us less social. This can mean that your team can become alienated when there is too much ‘tech’, and not enough ‘talk’. Without a sense of camaraderie or connectedness, your collaboration can fall apart.

We create stronger human bonds when we can share, laugh, commiserate, and innovate together. While face-to-face interactions may be preferred, they aren’t always realistic. Technology is just one tool to help simplify our processes and keep things progressing. It’s not meant to replace those human connections that inspire and encourage us.

The best way to collaborate is to strategically team up with a diverse group of great minds, be supportive and transparent, and use technology to propel your project and group farther. The result? Successful outcomes you didn’t know were possible!

How have your collaborations worked in the past? Are there things from this series you’ve tried, or are eager to try? Share in the comments below.

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.” – Dean Kamen