A Guide To Virtual Collaboration Tools
Navigate the market for virtual collaboration tools with confidence and find the right solutions for your team.
If there’s anything we’ve all learned recently, it’s that just about anything can be transformed into a home office — from couches to countertops and everything in between.
However, unless we’re counting our furry friends and family members, what doesn’t have a stand-in are our co-workers.
While coffee pots and laptops (the essentials) can travel, working from separate locations can make it difficult for teams to collaborate freely. So, let’s put on our thinking caps and explore how a collaboration app can power your team’s next virtual brainstorming session.
Virtual collaboration software: What it is and why you may need it
OK, first things first: What are virtual collaboration tools?
Basically, any piece of software or technology that allows remote workers to communicate with one another is considered to be an online collaboration tool.
While the first thing that may come to mind are the video conferencing platforms that rose in popularity over the past year, this category of software truly extends as far as the eye can see. From calendar sharing tools, instant messaging and even virtual whiteboards, there’s no shortage of solutions to make things easier for your remote team.
Just some of the benefits of leveraging virtual collaboration software include:
• New recruitment opportunities: When geographic restrictions are no longer a consideration, your team can tap into talent from all over the world to find the expertise you need to create a one-of-a-kind customer experience.
• Improved communication: Ever find yourself waiting the entire day for a single-sentence email? Instant messaging and other communication solutions will help break down that barrier and reduce response times.
• Enhanced productivity: When teams are able to communicate and share ideas in real time, you’ll be able to find more opportunities to engage and attract new customers.
The ultimate goal of remote collaboration is to foster the same degree of innovation you would get sharing ideas with one another face-to-face. So, if you’re officially sick of email chains that go on for 50 or more messages, let’s start building your collaboration tool kit.
Building your remote collaboration software stack
It’s important to remember your software stack will look a little different based on your team's unique communication needs. However, there are some essential features that every organization should prioritize:
• Secure: Data security has never been more important for the modern marketer. Look for solutions that will help you keep customer data safe with features such as multi-factor authentication that minimize the chance of a security breach.
• Cloud-based: A cloud-based space dedicated to file sharing will help remote team members quickly retrieve the materials they need to publish online. Less time tracking down content means more freedom to innovate.
• Messaging functionality: Improve visibility and communication with software that allows you to share notes in the app itself.
As you build your team’s toolkit for remote collaboration, prioritize solutions that offer all three of these features. This will help to cut down on expenses and minimize any of the potential redundancy introduced by a digital environment full of point solutions.
Maintaining internal communication
Remote work means you can’t really stop by your team member’s desk to share ideas. Well, in theory, you could walk to their home, but that might be a little much.
Save yourself the steps (and your co-workers the shock) with a team collaboration tool that makes it easy to stay in touch:
• Calendar tools: Getting the right message to your target audience is only half the battle — your virtual team also needs the tools to share that content at the right time. The right platforms offer easy-to-read calendars with clear project workflows and deadlines to ensure your distributed team is on the same page.
• External notifications: Tracking comments and checking due dates for tasks across software can become a job in and of itself. External notifications triggered by in-app activity will help keep your entire team aware of any updates without having to constantly check.
• Cross-functional collaboration: Achieving a holistic view of the customer experience means getting your whole organization connected. Tools that allow for the streamlined distribution of content and other assets will help sales, service, and marketing get a clear picture of the customer journey.
When your organization is able to communicate freely and in real time, you can still achieve the same level of collaboration that you would during team meetings in the office — minus the 40-minute commute and all the walks to the water cooler.
Simplifying daily tasks with remote collaboration
One of the most important considerations for your remote collaboration tools may be the most counterintuitive: Keep it simple. The less technology you deploy and the more straightforward the solutions you use are, the better they’ll help your team.
As you navigate your options, keep the following features in mind:
• Intuitive user interface: Look for checklist-inspired task management tools and user-friendly workflow setups to ensure the platform you leverage successfully empowers your at-home end users.
• Integrative functionality: Adding more tech to your stack can always be a nerve-wracking experience. Cloud-based software can help minimize integration concerns as they typically sync with other marketing technologies out-of-the-box or with some back-end development.
• Mobile-friendly: Virtual platforms that are available via mobile app or feature responsive design give employees the option to work from multiple devices where they can view multiple screens at once. This is especially useful for those who don’t have access to two or more monitors in their remote workspace.
Just remember to keep your team and your customers in mind as you look through your options for collaboration technology. The right solution will simplify day-to-day tasks for your remote employees, which translates to a more seamless customer experience overall.
Getting started with your virtual collaboration stack
We’ve come a long way since chatting through two cans and a string, but there’s always the opportunity to provide your team with even better collaboration tools.
If you’re not sure where to start or are looking for some extra support, the team at GeekHive has got you covered. We’re passionate about helping marketers do more with what they already have, and will work with you to create a more strategic approach to remote collaboration.
Book an appointment today and together we’ll find the virtual collaboration tools that empower your team to develop a one-of-a-kind experience. And hey, while we’re at it, maybe we can cut out some of those less-than-necessary video calls too.