Most businesses recognize that employee collaboration is a must for a productive and efficient workplace, but many companies aren’t taking advantage of one of the best tools for promoting that collaboration—technology.
“What I’ve found is businesses often have their data segmented,” says Mayur Ramgir (www.mayurramgir.com), founder and CEO of Zonopact Inc., creator of the Clintra cloud-based software platform that allows businesses to store and access all their data in one location.
“One department has client information stored in a particular location, but other departments either don’t have access to it or can’t easily find it. That deters rather than promotes collaboration,” Ramgir says.
While there can be reasons to limit access to some data, business leaders need to understand that they are missing out on effective ways to let technology encourage teamwork in the workplace.
“Employees become frustrated if there’s a file they need, but they have to spend too much time searching through a disorganized system to locate it,” Ramgir says.
When used the right way, though, technology helps strengthen existing communication channels and identify new collaboration opportunities. “Some companies do get it,” Ramgir says. “For example, when we were developing Clintra, we kept hearing from businesses about their need for an integrated system to manage projects, sales, clients and prospects more efficiently. So sometimes business leaders know what they want from technology; they just aren’t always sure how to get there.”
He says there are numerous ways technology can help businesses improve teamwork among employees. A few are:
- E-mail and videoconferencing. These are a couple of the most basic ways technology can be used. They are especially helpful when employees who need to work together are scattered at remote locations. Sometimes people criticize the use of e-mail when a face-to-face conversation would be just as easy—and e-mail is overused at times. But it’s also an efficient way to quickly share important information with several coworkers at the same time without calling everyone away from their desks. Videoconferencing, such as Skype®, is especially helpful when there is visual information that needs to be shared, such as demonstration of a new product.
- Centralized work groups. Even e-mail and Skype have limitations, especially when different departments within a business are involved, Ramgir says. Developing centralized groups to make sharing client information easier can greatly improve both communication and collaboration, Ramgir says. With the right technology, teams can brainstorm, share ideas, create and manage projects, and divide tasks and activities.
- Online training courses. Teamwork requires that everyone understands his or her role and the goals of the company, which means employee training is essential. But handing employees an imposingly large training manual may not be the best way to accomplish that goal. They may not read it. Even if they do, they may not retain much of what they read. More effective, Ramgir says, is to make use of online training courses that are interactive, requiring that the employees be engaged. A quiz at the end can help ensure employees learned the key lessons.
“When you use technology to improve teamwork,” Ramgir says, “you’re very likely to see a boost in productivity, performance and profitability.”