What is Team Collaboration?
Team collaboration is a statement that resonates with any person that has ever worked on any project whatsoever. Put simply, it means that an entire group of people, referred to as the team, come together and work. When done correctly, effective team collaboration can improve productivity, spark creativity in the team, ensure everyone is on track and help each member by creating the feedback loop needed for a team to be successful. Team collaboration transcends professions and is important no matter what our profession is. But is it that simple? The fact remains that it isn’t. Team collaboration is a long and arduous process that needs constant work and attention. Every member must work with every other member to match each other’s wavelength of work and deliver the results on time. It needs constant monitoring and reworking with attention to detail without going overboard with the resources.
What usually happens is far from our expectations. Deadlines aren’t met, roles aren’t clear, there isn’t proper allocation of work to the person who is capable of doing the work. Without team collaboration, no organisation can run itself smoothly. In this guide you will learn about how team collaboration can help you, the different ways of team collaboration and how tools such as Butter can help in effective team collaboration.
Why are we talking about team collaboration?
Now that you know what team collaboration is, you must be asking, why is it so important? According to a GoRemotely, 75% Employees stated team collaboration as an important part of their work life. To give you more perspective, team collaboration is one of the top 4 skills that employers look for in a potential employee.
That, along with the changing times has made team collaboration, especially in remote work settings, an important part of our lives. So to arm you for a post pandemic work lifestyle, here are a few points how team collaboration can be important and how it can help you. So now that we have established how important team collaboration is.
1. Better productivity
Teamwork is often confused with individual work who seek guidance from one another in one aspect or the other in their daily work and then continue to work alone. This is not true. Teamwork means the pooling in of all resources that can help to feed off each other's ideas and contribute their own unique take. This means that work gets done faster and smoother, not to mention a lot more better given the plethora of ideas that come with teamwork, making it a rich and well executed project. A major aspect of modern day collaboration is the use of a plethora of collaboration tools that make teamwork easy, especially in remote settings. In fact, A McKinsey Study found that using collaboration tools increased productivity by as much as 25%. The dependence on collaboration tools is rapidly increasing. Before 2020, 3 out of 10 companies relied on collaboration tools. This was the situation pre 2020. Needless to say, these numbers have increased since then as Working From Home became more predominant. With collaboration tools, the team can work faster and more efficiently with more independence without being stopped at every step. The process automates and work becomes smoother.
2. Faster problem solving
As a team, you need to be constantly in touch with your team members, from asking for files to follow ups on that thing that you need by next Tuesday. This is usually done in a meeting or calling them more than 10 times a day. But that is due to ineffective collaboration. We must remember not to confuse collaboration with communication. To check out the difference between the two by clicking here.
Team collaboration gets rid of the need for frequent meetings and boring con calls. With the proper collaboration tool, you can do away with these and focus on your work instead. By eliminating the long process of emails and meetings, collaboration tools such as Butter help you track progress and work with just a click, or even better, through chat features. Faster resolution of problems means more work gets done in a shorter amount of time, which leads to faster meeting of deadlines with quality work to show for.
Another factor that comes with effective team collaboration with the right tools is that the physical boundaries that restrict people become redundant. People can work from anywhere and everywhere. Collaborative workspaces become much more independent and freeing. This trend is now gaining traction post 2020. Work From Home is becoming so popular and so much easier that work gets done much easier without the constraints of a strict 9-5 schedule.
3. Risk avoidance
Planning helps, no matter how good your idea is. And yet, no matter how good your plan is, there are often hurdles that you could not have predicted. Circumstances change and you have to keep up with the times and still get the work done. What team collaboration does is help each member communicate and find out what the pitfalls and other hindrances may appear in the long run. This helps each team member be aware of the pitfalls and have a backup plan that everyone can fall back onto in the blink of an eye.
4. Cost cutting
Team collaboration means the effective allocation of resources. It means that the various tasks at hand are being handed out to the people who are the most capable of doing them on time and with perfection. Now with remote work in mind, most companies are reducing their spending on office spaces and investing more on task management softwares and collaboration tools. And with good reason too. According to GoRemotely, statistics show that online collaboration tools and remote working offices increase productivity by up to 30%. Not only do the employers believe that remote working is important, 70% of employees have stated that team collaboration tools have helped them become more productive and collaborate better with their team. This clearly shows that not only is team collaboration through the use of appropriate technology useful, but it is frugal too. It saves money both for the employees and the employers.
How to create a good team environment:
The success of your team not only depends on their skills but also the right kind of environment. There must be ample amount of team planning, leadership must be taken into account and of course, collaboration. There are a few desirable elements of a team. Make sure you check each of these boxes when working together as a team.
Innovative - Innovation is one of the pre-requisites for effective team management. Creative, active and engaged team members that participate actively and collaborate effectively are a must have for a team to be successful.
Understanding - A team that understands its goals, knows what steps are to be taken in order to ensure maximum efficiency can only come through understanding and intuition. Not only that, another aspect that is very important in today’s context is the mental health of the team members. Creating an atmosphere of healthy understanding and support is essential when collaborating as a team. Only when a member feels safe can they actually come up with more ideas, engage more actively and work with enthusiasm. Trust and support, that’s how we achieve.
Goal oriented - A team that believes in each other and eventually, in the goal is a team that succeeds. With team building, goal establishment, the team must also have a motive to work towards the goal.
After deciding how to create the team and who you want on board, it becomes important to mould your members into a team. The first thing to be done when collaborating as a team is to determine how to go about the project at hand. What are the requirements for the project, how much is the budget, what is a realistic timeline for work? Ask yourself these questions. Then we come to the questions to be asked from the colleagues. What is the working style of your team members? Who lacks in what matter? How would you prefer to communicate with them? See who listens actively, see who doesn't speak much at meetings. Take a different approach with each of them. To form the perfect team and collaborate effectively, there are some steps to be followed.
Famous psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed a group development process in 1965 which is used extensively in team building and for team collaboration purposes.
There are 5 stages of team collaboration :
Forming- During the initial stages of the team formation, it is crucial that to keep the starting excitement intact, proper timing must be given to planning and proper allocation of tasks. To do this, each employee must be heard and understood. To have an effective team, this initial stage is extremely important. Clear ideas for the goals must be given, communication processes and a structure has to be created. It is not practical to expect performance at this stage. This is the stage where the team needs to come together and actually become a team.
Storming- This is the stage in which all the conflicts and disagreements come forward. The goal is to not get stuck at this phase. If you get stuck at this phase then your team is done for. Conflict is healthy and needed, it prevents groupthink and helps question each other's ideas to better refine it and get the best solution possible.Fair warning, at this stage people might start questioning the end goal and the entire pre defined structure may be on the brink of crumbling.It is always better to work on these conflicts right now instead of sweeping them under the rug.
Norming- This is where the team really comes together. Your team starts to actually collaborate with each other, use each other’s strengths and support to make up for each other’s weaknesses. Although occasionally, this step can collide with storming due to the dynamic nature of the project at hand. It is a process of continuous adjusting. However, with more conflict comes more adjustment and faster conflict resolution between the members themselves. Encourage constructive feedback during this stage, help them recognise the faults and learn from the achievements of each other. In this the team starts taking independent decisions that they know are in sync with what the other members are doing.
Performing- This is the highest performing stage of teamwork, most teams try and fail to achieve this stage, getting stuck in a loop of conflict and norming. The team is fully committed to their work and things are in perfect sync. The team has now become self reliant and extremely confident in their decision making skills which in turn makes them work at their best. It must be clear that by thi stage, the goals of the organisation have become extremely clear to the members of the team and they are completely committed to the goal.
Adjourning- Also called the mourning stage, this is the stage where the team disbands after having completed the task. This can actually create feelings of anxiety in some colleagues. There is nothing else to do but to disband. It is advisable to encourage and celebrate the hard work put in by the team members to placate the feelings of loss and anxiety in cases where there is a deep feeling of loss for any number of reasons.
To build a better team, the above steps are not enough. We need a platform to collaborate, to work simultaneously and to keep track of our work. Here are some collaboration tools that can help you.
Types of team collaboration tools
1. Whiteboard collaboration tools
To start off our discussion on the types of collaboration tools, let's take it to the whiteboard. Whiteboards have always been the way to communicate your ideas to a group of people or to map out your ideas. Be it a classroom or an office space, whiteboards take the lead in discussion, collaboration, and communication of ideas. With the seismic shift of meeting room and office spaces to digital spaces, whiteboards also found themselves digitalised. The convenience and familiarity of visual thinking and communicating paired with the convenience of technology makes the perfect collaboration tool. And for this very reason the collaboration tools market is riddled with digital whiteboard tools, many of them with infinitesimal differences. Pretty much all the digital whiteboard tools in the market can help with the basic visual representation of idealism, but here are some things to look for while selecting the digital whiteboard tool for your team to get the most out of it.
- Unlimited drawing space- One of the best parts about digitalisation of tools is that we are no longer confined to the physical restrictions of the real tools. Unlimited drawing space is one of the features that surpasses the limited space of a physical whiteboard and helps you visualize your idea no matter how big and complex it is.
- Real time collaboration- Cloud based digital white boards can provide real time collaboration where all the members of the team can be hands-on with the project, this helps in effective brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other where all the members can visually show what they want to convey.
- Multimedia attachments- Teams often deal with projects where they have to refer to quite a few materials and keep them in sight for better management of the tasks. Digital whiteboards provide the option to attach images, document files, and links on the whiteboards itself for easy access.
- Accessible on multiple devices- In the new normal where most of the team members are working from home, even if you're not seated at your desk, chances are you'd prefer to have access to the whiteboard. So the whiteboards tool you used should be accessible on multiple as well as mobile devices.
Now that we have a good understanding of what features we need in the whiteboard tool for our team, let us have a look at some of the digital whiteboards in the market that provide the aforementioned features.
- Miro- It is supported on all available devices as well as on the web. Apart from the basic whiteboard features, it allows managers to guide the process. It also provides multiple apps that can be integrated on the board itself
- Stormboard- It is a sticky note style collaboration tool where all sticky notes can contain a white board in it. It’s intuitive UI helps manage multiple white boards with multiple projects with ease.
- Mural- Many whiteboards can be accommodated on the mural canvas and it provides all the necessary features of a digital whiteboard. What sets mural apart is its feature of creating rooms and granting custom limit access to each room, where each team also has access to edit its part of the project.
2. Project management tools
Project Management is the management of skills, personnel, tools and techniques to channel the resources at the team’s disposal to meet the project requirements and team objectives. And project management tools assist the team and its members to better organise and manage their projects and responsibilities and make sure that the project goes according to the planned schedule and assist in assigning tasks and responsibilities to individuals, and also track the progress of these assigned tasks. Here are some of the features that you should look for while selecting a project management tool for your team.
- Planning: The tool should allow you to plan tasks and assign them to members of the team. With tasks, subtasks, folders, templates, workflows, and calendars, your project management tool should allow you to plan and delegate work in one spot.
- Collaboration: Collaboration feature is a very integral function of any project management too. It helps the member to assign tasks, add comments to the ongoing tasks, organise the work done by members on the project team as well as suggest changes and approve the work done by individual members of the team.
- Documentation: Your project management tools should provide you a documentation feature that allows you to edit, update and store work files. It should also make sure that the updated versions of all the files are up for display and all the work done is updated in real time.
- Evaluation: The tool should allow the project leader as well the peers to track the progress of the project and work done by individual members. It should allow you to assess the productivity and growth of the project as well keep track of the resources spent.
- Shared Calendar: The project management tool used by the team should have an inbuilt calendar feature that would allow the members working on the project to have a synchronised calendar. That would keep them up to date to each other's schedule along with the tasks assigned and the dealined to be followed.
Based on our discussion adobe let us look at some of the project management tools that could be perfect for your team.
- Butter- Butter is a mobile-first, chat-based project management tool that makes the essential process of managing projects much simpler, especially for people who aren't very tech-savvy. In a nutshell, it’s like WhatsApp + Trello rolled into one mobile app. The users can communicate, like on WhatsApp and assign tasks and ask for follow-ups, like on Trello.
- Trello- Trello uses a solitaire-like interface that helps in monitoring projects and assigning tasks across teams. Trello was primarily designed to be used on desktop computers and not to anyone’s surprise it works better on the same. Trello also doesn’t have a dedicated in-app chat platform that limits the management of the teams.
- Monday.com- Monday.com is an intuitive, easy project management software that combines a visually appealing UI with essential project visualisation tools. It's adaptable and clear in how it organises your work. On top of that, there are project templates from which you can create your own boards. There are several display possibilities, including a map view and a calendar view.
3. Instant Messaging Tools
Instant Messaging Tools are a specific type of collaboration tool. Instant messaging is a type of online communication that allows two or more people to communicate in real time. Instant messaging is popular because it allows for quick and simple communication. And organisations have been using IM tools for these very features.
When selecting an IM tool to be used by your team here are some of the things you should keep in mind.
- Easy to use- One of the biggest selling points of IM tools is its simplicity of use. The texts sent should be easy to follow and the conversation threads should be distinguishable.
- Group feature- The IM tool to be used for your team should be able to form chat groups of members of the team. It would allow the conversations concerning the entire team to take place in the group itself.
- Sharing of media and document files- The instant messaging tool should also allow the sharing of media and document files for easy reference and access to the document under discussion.
- Accessible on mobile devices- IM tools should be able to be used in mobile devices so that the members of the team can be reached in real time even when they are away from their working stations.
Now let us have a look at some of the tools that can serve the IM needs of your teams
- Butter- Butter is an app that provides all the essential and discussed features of IM tools. It has an intuitive and easy to use UI. It allows users to form groups and share media and document files with individuals and or the entire group. What gives Butter an edge over all the IM tools available in the market is its task assigning feature. The users can assign tasks to each other and make sure that important messages and assignments do not get lost in the flurry of texts in the group. -WhatsApp- WhatsApp is the most widely used instant messaging service in the world. With over 1.5 billion users, your team members are likely to use its texting, group chats, file sharing, and voice and video conversations. There is also a group feature that allows only admins to have access to the group chat functionality, which allows them to send instant messages. -Slack- Slack is a business communications platform that offers a wide range of features and services to its users. Slack has got features like instant messaging, multiple channels for different teams, video conferences, and much more. What stands out for Slack is the hundreds of bots it offers for third-party tools that can help in team management and auto moderations of channels.
4. Cloud Storage and File Sharing Tools
Most business collaboration software today is built on cloud computing. When it comes to collaboration tools, cloud storage and file-sharing enable you to accomplish everything from safely backing up and storing files remotely to editing and working on papers in real time.
Here are some of the features you should look for while looking for a Cloud Storage and File Sharing Tool.
- Real time file sharing and Collaboration- Your tool should allow multiple members to work on the file under work and collaborate on the same.
- Size Limit- The optimal tool you look for should provide you a size limit that allows you to share and store all your project related files on the cloud and accessible to all the members working on the project.
- Accessible on multiple devices- The tool should be able to synchronize your file across multiple devices, so the team can access any concerned file on the go.
Here are some of the Cloud Storage and File Sharing Tools that could fit the needs of your team
- Dropbox- Dropbox is a straightforward, dependable file-syncing and storage service with expanded collaborative tools, but it's more expensive and less integrated than platform options like Google Drive, iCloud, and OneDrive.
- Google Drive- Google Drive is a cloud storage service from Google that allows you to store documents, files, audio, and videos, among other things. Google's whole office suite has robust and useful smartphone apps, allowing you to work from anywhere, at any time. The files stored on google drive can be accessed in real time and on the go, it also provides 15GB of free storage that can be upgraded.
- Microsoft Onedrive- OneDrive, Microsoft's response to GoogleDrive, is a safe and secure cloud storage solution. Users can save files and photographs to OneDrive and access them from any device, at any time. Microsoft offers safe and secure ways to exchange and collaborate on material with coworkers and colleagues both inside and outside your company, boosting productivity and efficiency.
5. Video Conferencing tools-
In the new normal Video Conferencing has replaced meeting. Meetings and seminars may now be held from anywhere thanks to video conferencing technologies. From a one-on-one conversation to a conference with hundreds of participants, video conferencing can be used as a stand-in for any type of face-to-face team communication tool.
When selecting the Video Conferencing platform for your team here are some of the things you should look for:
Group Size - The tool you are using to conduct the meeting of your team should be able to accommodate all the members of your time with room to spare. It should also be able to hold up medium scale webinars for your organisation.
- Screen Sharing- Sometimes your team would need to show the project under discussion and that's where screen sharing comes into the picture where the entire audience can see and easily understand the topic under discussion through visuals and real time working.
- Chatting and QnA- The video conferencing tool you use for your team should allow the members to comment using chatbox. Speaking up can squander crucial meeting time and divert you away from the main issue, which is why chatting is useful for video conferences. People can just enter what they're thinking, which reduces interruptions.
Here are some of the Video Conferencing Platforms that have the aforementioned features in their arsenal.
- Zoom- For good reason, Zoom has quickly become the go-to tool for video conferencing and online meetings. It's simple to use, with great video, screen sharing, and the ability to record meetings. Zoom also helps schedule and organize meetings by integrating Google Calendar. Teams can have meetings and sessions that can substitute the traditional conference room meetups in the new normal.
- Skype for business- Microsoft's popular Skype service has been upgraded to include a business-ready video conferencing feature. It provides a number of business features, including the ability to hold meetings with up to 250 people, connect with other Skype users, and use virtual whiteboarding.
- Google Meet- Google Meet is a conference call programme designed for business customers. It's a more advanced version of Google Hangouts designed for groups. Google Meet is a video conferencing platform for teams, offering features comparable to Zoom such as calendar syncing, conference room reservations, and a more refined user interface.
This is the central platform for your team to find all the guidance they need about team collaboration. It provides a comprehensive look into the world of team collaboration.
For a tool that integrates both team collaboration and chat into one seamless application, check out Butter.