Enterprise collaboration isn’t always online, live and interactive. It needs to fit with employees' work patterns and behaviors, so it can often be offline and "local" -- think of the travelling salesman, updating sales numbers on the road. Head offices need up-to-date numbers at the end of every week, and they also need to work together on reports for the board.

SharePoint's answer to our example is SharePoint Workspace. Previously known as "Groove" (and originally created by Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie), the desktop application is designed to let you take SharePoint 2010 offline. So just how can you put it to use for good collaboration? Try the following tips to make the most of your experience.

Top Tips

1. Use Windows Search

Use Windows Search 4.0 or above to search your Workspace content. Click "Search" on the "Home" tab.

2. Integrate with Office Communicator (now Lync)

You may more commonly use Workspace to sync offline changes in bulk, but this time, online syncing can be made more productive by using real-time chat. Need to check what files to upload? Want to notify someone that you have synced? Use this real-time chat feature to make people aware of changes and get feedback.

3. Use "Shared Folders" to share your PC content across other machines

Creating a shared folder will sync content from your PC file system with your Workspace account. This will then allow you -- and other SharePoint Workspace users if you wish -- to have access to the content across all computers that have your Workspace account.

4. Not all content can be synced in Workspace

While this is somewhat annoying, it is useful to know what can and cannot be synced. Content types that cannot be synced include: 

  • Calendar/Event lists
  • Wikis
  • Blog sites
  • Portal sites
  • Form libraries
  • Slide libraries
  • Surveys
  • Site directories
  • OneNote notebooks stored in document libraries
  • Information rights management protected doucment libraries

5. Calculated columns cannot always be synced with the SharePoint server 

Calculated columns cannot be synced with the SharePoint server if they are added to the list after it has already been downloaded and synced. Instead, you can sync this data by opening and editing each item in the list. If this is impractical due to a large number of items, disconnect the content from the server ("Sync"->"Change Sync Setting"->"Disconnect from Server") and reconnect to resync.

Learning Opportunities

6. Sync your MySite

MySites are a great feature found on SharePoint 2010. Get even more from your MySite by taking it with you on the road. To create a SharePoint workspace for your MySite:

1. Click "My Content" on your MySite
2. "Site Actions" -> "Sync to SharePoint Workspace"
3. Click "OK"

There you have your top tips in using SharePoint Workspace for effective collaboration. Would you consider using Workspace as a collaboration tool in your organization? Sound off in the comments below. 

Editor's Note: Check out these additional articles on SharePoint tools for Collaboration: