3 collaborative tools to improve your teamwork online

In today’s working world, more and more work is being conducted via online channels between people who are not in the same office, city, country, or even continent. Of course, this is not always straightforward. With people working from different locations, there will naturally be challenges regarding time zones, cultures, communication channels, and so on. However, by choosing the right collaborative tools, you can remove some of these obstacles to allow you and your team to communicate and collaborate as efficiently as possible.

In line with the growing trend of distant working, the topics of online, hybrid teamwork and collaboration software are so broad that it can be a bit of a minefield to navigate. On top of this, adopting a new, online working culture can feel like a daunting task, but this article will shed some light on how best to achieve this new form of hybrid teamwork to increase your work efficiency. Don’t let the physical distance between members of your team hinder progress: after all, teamwork makes the dream work!

Why is online teamwork so difficult?

The internet has made the world a small place. With the click (or tap) of a button, you can now get in touch with someone on the other side of the world and speak to them as if they were right in front of you. 

This is great both personally and professionally, and in terms of the latter, it means employers can attract talent from further afield and employees can find a role that they are super keen on without having to completely uproot their personal life. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people work exclusively from home or the office. In fact, hybrid working has become a nice compromise for people who seek more work-life balance.

As this is still a relatively new form of working, hybrid teamwork can be difficult to understand and adopt. One day your colleague is sitting next to you and you can ask them anything or show them something on your screen, the next day they are merely an icon on your computer screen. This can take some time to get used to, especially for those employees who are less au-fait with the most recent technological advancements. 

Similarly, you don’t know how long you will have to wait for an answer – at least if your colleague is next to you, you know if they are ignoring you or not! By the same token, just because you’re not in the office doesn't mean you shouldn’t be heard; the right collaborative tool “encourages and maintains engagement from employees,” according to Forbes.

Forbes continues that “it was technology that allowed us to work remotely, and it will be technology that will help us enter hybrid mode. The most important piece of that equation is the collaboration tools we’ll use.” With this in mind, Klaxoon provides a range of collaboration tools that are easy to use, intuitive and effective. So, let’s delve a bit deeper into what this means exactly.

What is defined as an online collaborative tool today?

TechTarget defines online collaborative tools as “a group of technologies that offer real-time messaging, group chat, file sharing, shared calendaring, project coordination, voice and video for one-on-one and group communication.” This may seem like a lot, but in truth, online collaborative tools can be as simple as instant messaging or emails and as complex as a sophisticated project management system. 

Some online collaborative tools focus on one aspect of communication, some on others, and some on a combination of several, such as group chat, file sharing, shared calendaring, project coordination, and so on. 

The key is finding the collaboration software that best suits your needs to achieve work efficiency from hybrid teamwork.

There is a plethora of options available on the market, so we’re here to outline some different options to help you choose the right one for your business.

3 collaborative tools to generate better results

1. Online whiteboard: a visual overview of your work

We know that today people are working together, while not being physically together. And we can’t let collaborative work fall by the wayside just because we are not sitting alongside our fellow team members. 

Hybrid teamwork – with some team members working in the office and some working remotely – can work effectively provided there is a suitable tool for doing so

Equally, you never know when someone is going to come up with a game-changing idea, so you need to make sure every voice is heard, wherever that voice may be. With an online whiteboard you can make sure everyone can efficiently provide their ideas or comments.

We have progressed from chalk boards to whiteboards and from whiteboards to interactive whiteboards. But now we’ve taken a large step forward with the online whiteboard. They are a virtual tool that provides a collaborative workspace where individuals or teams can work together remotely or when they are in same room. 

This means they can work together and add ideas, make changes, and comment on each other's work in real-time. This streamlines work processes as it avoids miscommunications and delays caused by different versions of things going back and forth. It also makes it easier to provide clear and concise feedback while communicating progress updates and deadlines and keeping everyone informed and on track.

In addition to streamlining work processes and keeping everyone on the same page, the online whiteboard is great for enhancing hybrid teamwork and work efficiency when coming up with ideas in the early stages of your project. 

This technology is also a great place for brainstorming and ideation. The visual management features of the whiteboards then make it easier for team members to visualise ideas in a more concrete way and then build on them.

This visual nature means it can display a plethora of content, but starting from blank page can be daunting. That’s where templates can come in handy. For even more efficient teamwork, use a digital whiteboard that allows you to use a multitude of readymade templates inspired from proven methods. 

You can get layouts that will allow you to get an overview of your latest projects or focus on specific tasks. If you design products or services for your customers, you need to know who those customers really are and what matters to them. For example, there is a template that helps you develop customer personas, that ultimately provide an overview of what customers really want.

Ultimately, teams need to be organised, and the online whiteboard provides this. The online whiteboard can be used to stay on top of tasks and deadlines, while also creating to-do lists, assigning tasks, and tracking progress. This makes sure that everyone knows what they need to do and when it needs to be done. The value of an online whiteboard cannot be underestimated when it comes to collaborative work and work efficiency.

2. Questions: asynchronous work discussions made easy

As described above, hybrid working means that people are working together while not being physically alongside each other. Naturally, this may lead to concerns over communication and how work efficiency will be negatively affected if you can’t just turn to the person next to you if you have any questions. 

In a traditional working environment, where everyone is in the same office together, it is possible to ask the people around you a question, but what if you need to ask several different people a question and they are dotted all over the office? 

Well, the Question tool from Klaxoon makes it easier to get in touch with several different people at the same time, which enhances asynchronous teamwork online, and also improves work efficiency on site in the office.

Using Klaxoon’s collaborative tools, you can create a Question to reach out to several different people, no matter where they are working from. You can send it to people using their username, email address or even the name of a Network that everyone is a member of. This means that you can really target who your message is for, so people don’t receive messages if it is not relevant to them. 

It is easy to create a Question and your team will be notified about its updates in real time. And your Questions come in many different forms. You can ask your team to vote or answer to a poll, ask a Yes/No Question or a rating, so you can quickly collect and visualise data on what people think. 

Another option is a Challenge question, where the first person to respond correctly wins. This motivates team members and really engages them in ideas. 

Then, you also have the Storm Questions, which allow you to collect ideas in a word cloud. The visually appealing nature of the Questions tool makes it an engaging feature and really fosters a feeling of collaboration among team members.

3. Word clouds: collect ideas in an efficient way

In any team environment it is incredibly useful to know what your team members think about a particular idea

In a traditional office environment, you might need to call a meeting, which entails finding a convenient time for every team member to participate. Even if you do manage to do that, you might not get full participation as people may feel self-conscious about their ideas and not want to contribute. 

This is where teamwork online via collaborative tools can actually enhance work efficiency – not only by saving time calling a meeting, but also by providing a safe space for every team member to contribute.

With Klaxoon’s Storm format of the Questions tool, you can ask your team members and see what they respond to it with a visually pleasing representation of all the answers, known as a word cloud.

To do this in Klaxoon, just ask a Storm question as explained above. Your team members will receive a notification or email and can respond to the Question in their own time. All their answers will be collated in a word cloud, which is a visual representation of all the answers to show you which answers are the most common and what the trends are

This information is also available as a list for an alternative view, and users have the option of ‘liking’ their favourite or top answers. 

The word cloud is a great way for the start of a meeting to kickstart the discussion and get everybody engaged. It is an agile, accessible and visually pleasing collaborative tool that works wonders in improving work efficiency while also providing you with valuable insights from your team members. After all, just because people aren’t in the same room doesn’t mean they can’t collaborate together!

Try efficient collaborative tools to improve your team engagement from anywhere

So, collaborative work and communication in the modern working world need not be impaired by physical distance. As we have shown above, there is incredibly effective collaborative software out there to make sure your work efficiency and teamwork are as good as when everyone was sat in the same room. 

These three collaborative tools provide a key link between remote and on-site employees, so nobody feels left out or ignored, and teamwork online is given the best chance to succeed. What’s more, the user-friendly appearance of these tools can actually motivate the people using them. Hybrid teamwork is the future, so try the right collaborative tools right now to make sure you’re not left behind!

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