Collaboration and communication within a company are critical activities. They not only strengthen camaraderie and empower employees, but, as people join together for a shared purpose, also increase an organization’s productivity, efficiency and overall effectiveness.

Real-time collaboration and communication, in which all users can exchange information instantly, creates an environment that enables people to work wherever, whenever and however they need to in order to pool their collective skills and resources to quickly solve problems and move toward finding a solution.

The ability of employees, business partners and customers to interact in this manner — across technologies, channels and geographic boundaries — increasingly determines whether an enterprise flourishes or flounders.

4 Collaboration, Communication Strategies

Here are four best practices when employing real-time collaboration and communication.

Cater to the needs of your team by choosing the right platform

Before moving to a culture of real-time collaboration and communication it’s important to figure out the specific needs of the team. For example, do they need to collaborate on product or document development? How do they usually communicate? Where are team members located? Do they need a centrally accessible archive? It’s important to focus on developing a strategy that helps understand the “why” before getting to the “how.”

The next step is finding an application that works for the size and engagement level of your group. Choose several options and let the team decide the features, interface, etc. that are the best fit.

Encourage and establish real-time communication and collaboration habits within the workplace

One way to establish a culture of real-time communication and collaboration is to suggest that face-to-face meetings and emails take place in a virtual, web-based collaboration space.

While email is an effective way to communicate within a business, it’s a poor collaborative tool. To break the email habit, organizations can try turning off email for a period of time in order to ensure alternative modes of communication are used.

Organizations can also encourage meeting attendees to utilize mobile-video tools, as opposed to videoconferences which often require dedicated facilities, since mobile video tools allow people to attend meetings regardless of their current location. Not only is it easy, but mobile video is a great way to bring key experts into conversations when needed.

Since real-time communication and collaboration technologies make it easy to track collaborative behavior, performance evaluations and incentives can be designed to foster teamwork and reward collaboration.

Be supportive, but mostly get out of the way

First and foremost, it’s important that team members are fully trained, educated and supported in using new software. It might be useful to identify a team member or project manager to oversee the implementation and use of the platform. This person will have the ability to not only manage the organizational processes, but also help team members if they have problems, as well as encourage people to use the system.

Once the real-time communication and collaboration tool is in place, let your employees do what they need to do. Sometimes by regulating usage and enforcing too many guidelines and rules, you end up stifling the collaboration and communication process within the organization.

Don’t be afraid to adapt and evolve

Real-time collaboration and communication tools are consistently improving and evolving as new software and strategies continue to emerge. Because of that, it’s imperative that your organization is flexible and adaptable to change.

Keep your ear to the ground on what’s going on within your organization as well as in the industry as a whole. This allows you to innovate new solutions and anticipate upcoming trends and changes.

It’s important to remember to make sure your employees are part of the decision-making process when it comes to employing real-time collaboration and communication tools.

Be sure to listen to their ideas, needs and suggestions and make it a point to integrate their feedback in your technology and strategy.

Title image by Alexis Brown