Best Tools for Connecting Businesses and Team Members in 2018
The typical workplace today doesn’t exist solely in a single physical space. You’ve got staff, consultants, freelancers, collaborators, and remote workers taking care of business on every corner of the globe, across a variety of different devices. It is neither effective or efficient to have everything housed in one physical location, requiring workers to access information and interact with one another in that one space.
As the old adage goes, it’s not about working harder; it’s about working smarter. And if you want your team members to get the most out of their hours and be as productive as possible, you need to arm them with the best tools for the job. And this means getting everyone on the same page at any given moment. You need that alignment and a number of online solutions can aid in achieving that goal.
Webinars and Video Sharing
We all know how important online video is to businesses and brands from a marketing perspective around the world, but few people realize the value of business connections, team building, and in-office communications.
While the concepts of webinars are quite clear, there are some solutions that are catering to multiple areas of the spectrum through online video, webinar, and team engagement. ClickMeeting, for example, has a wide range of features and benefits built right into their existing webinar platform.
With most webinar platforms, users are given the ability to host a webinar and have attendees view the presentation or slides you are talking to. With ClickMeeting, it’s a whole new ballgame.
As you can see through the screenshot above, ClickMeeting offers nearly all of the features you could ask for in a webinar solution, but also provides screen-sharing, webinar rooms (for conversations before a webinar starts), a whiteboard drawing area, in-webinar polls and surveys, and much more.
When you hear of webinars, you typically think of marketers and gurus selling their products, but businesses and brands of all sizes are actually using ClickMeeting to accomplish much more, while also increasing team building and engagement as well.
For Sharing Files and Documents
Team members need to be able to access and collaborate on various files and documents on an ongoing and real-time basis. One of the most frustrating things that can happen in an office is to have multiple versions of the same document flying around with various revisions that don’t align with one another. No one wants to get caught in an infinite email string where it’s unclear which is the “current” or “final” version of a document or file.
That’s why when you are looking for a solution that enables you to share files and documents among team members, you need to look at a solution that is well managed with easy access. A great advantage of a solution like ContractZen is that it offers a metadata-driven service. What this means is that rather than utilize a more traditional hierarchical folder system, the documents can be saved in such a way that you can simply search and organize them via metadata.
Need to gather up all the documents of a particular type? You can do that. Need all the files associated with a certain client? You can do that too. No matter how robust a traditional file folder system can be, it can never be as flexible as one that’s based on metadata. The metadata-driven virtual data rooms from ContractZen tap directly into such a configuration, offering advanced rights management, smart tagging, audit logging, and high-level encryption for much-needed security too.
For Effective Communication
Sharing files and documents effectively is of critical importance to any organization, regardless of size. We live in a digital age where those digital assets are just as valuable, if not even more so, than any physical incarnation. Those vital contracts, for instance, and well worth their weight in gold. But it’s also important that team members are able to communicate with one another in a timely and efficient way too.
Email will always have its place. It’s the most suitable location for more long-form communication and for company-wide announcements. However, for more of the day-to-day chat that is necessary for collaborators to get the job done, a much better option is something like Slack. In their own words, Slack is “the collaboration hub that moves work forward.”
While getting caught up in the bottomless pit of “reply all” emails is a certifiable waste of time, team members can set up various “channels” in Slack based on whatever organization method they’d like. This is in addition to regular one-on-one discussions too. Slack “channels” can be based around departments, projects, teams and more, including the ability to invite outside workers to specific discussions. It’s all searchable and allows for a much more flexible arrangement.
Slack also integrates with a broad range of tools you may already be using in your business. These integrations come by way of the Slack App Directory, and notable items here range from Google Calendar and Salesforce to Github, Twitter, and Simple Poll.
For times when a mostly text-based chat isn’t enough and you need some face-to-face time, Bluejeans is one of the better options for online video conferencing. Video conferences are far more cost-effective than flying in everyone from all around the world, and you can just as easily invite outside analysts and consultants too. These video meetings allow for easy screen sharing and you get crystal clear Dolby Voice audio as well.
For Project Management
When it comes to project management, you’ve likely got a lot of balls in the air. You’ve got to deal with all the different components of the actual project itself, as well as all the team members who are working on each of these elements. Keeping track of deadlines and progress and sub-tasks can be overwhelming, and that’s why it’s so important to ensure everyone is on the same page, all the time.
A great option in this space is Asana. The projects can be set up using lists, boards, calendar and timeline, empowering team members to share the important details and delegate tasks in as quick and efficient a manner as possible. Asana follows the same fundamental principles as Kanban boards, where each column represents a “stage” in the project and the goal is to move everything over to the “complete” column on the far right.
This provides for a great visualization of the project from a bird’s eye view, including color-coding and clear task assignment among team members. You can then dive into the pertinent details for any given task. The timeline lets you plan projects from the beginning and identify the gaps and overlaps early. This allows for optimal efficiency.
You’ll find several similar features with a tool like Trello too, which also utilizes the same Kanban board mentality. Instead of getting caught up in back-and-forth emails to confirm the status of a project (or the various components within it), team members can simply reference what’s going on in the Trello or Asana board. That’s how you get the job done.
A Collaborative Ecosystem
The biggest key to being effective in the world of work is to minimize the amount of time you spend on less important tasks and maximize the amount of time you spend on the work that actually moves the needle. The less time your sales team spends digging through an email archive to find an old conversation about a lead, the less time they waste in sending an old version of a contract only to learn that a revised version should’ve been used instead, the more time they can spend nurturing leads and closing deals. The same can be said about just about any department or any other project.
Armed with the right tools for the job — for sharing documents, for communication, and for managing projects — team members can be in a much more advantageous position to work toward more successful outcomes in the most efficient and effective manner possible.