Digital collaboration can improve communication, facilitate the free flow of information, increase productivity and efficiency, build a sense of community, fill employees with a strong sense of purpose, improve problem-solving, and lead to significant cost savings. However, it remains a commonly underutilized instrument in the workplace.
If you’re not a millennial, you probably remember when you had to file thousands of paper documents by hand. Or, perhaps you remember having documents delivered to various departments for approval? What about those bulky, cluttered file cabinets that held the same amount of information as a tiny folder on the cloud? Yes, that’s an ugly image we need to get out of our heads! These reminders of the past make us grateful for having the tools and technology of today!
Online collaboration tools have pulled us out of the document dark ages and increased our productivity multi-fold.
Before we dig into the benefits of digital collaboration, let us first understand what collaboration is.
1. Understanding Collaboration
So what is collaboration and what is digital collaboration?
Collaboration is individuals working together for a common purpose to achieve a defined and common business purpose. When people have common goals and interests, it creates an unmatched synergy that can outperform any organization.
Digital collaboration is the practice of people working together through online means such as software-as-a-solution (SaaS) platforms. Instead of teams only communicating and working together in person, they are able to rely on digital tools to enable them to work together. Some organizations use digital collaboration to supplement their day-to-day, onsite operations. Others practice digital collaboration to aid communication with remote workers – for instance, instant messaging, making video calls, sharing documents, and managing projects in the cloud.
Digital collaboration tools have many benefits that can help increase employee productivity in your business and reduce overheads. Here are 9 reasons why your company should start deploying digital collaboration tools.
2. Benefits of Digital Collaboration in Business
i. Digital document collaboration improves access to information
Searching for documents in file cabinets, looking for content in an endless list of folders in your laptop or in external drives all lead to an enormous waste of time. And as if that is not enough, thousands of managers miss vital information simply because they can’t find it or never see it!
If you are looking to improve business processes and workflows, a great starting point is digital document collaboration.
A major advantage of having a digital document collaboration tool is the ease of access to information.
Employees no longer need to save files to their hard drives or on USB sticks. They only need to log onto their collaboration tool to access old files.
Storing a document in the cloud is the easiest way to know that everyone who needs it has access to it at all times, regardless of where they are in the world. Online digital collaboration is directly tied to cloud storage solutions that allow employees to access, collaborate, and share content irrespective of their location.
ii. Removes organizational silos
Most organizations appear as a single unit to the outside world but are often divided into physically dispersed teams. These segmentations are often a major hurdle to collaboration in the workplace as it complicates the information flow from one unit to another.
Online collaboration provides a way to bring loosely distributed teams closer in virtual rooms, hence, breaking down structural barriers and allowing employees to communicate in a way that is effective and fun. When employees from different departments interact, they can brainstorm and exchange new ideas, growth strategies, and tactics.
It also builds a sense of community even when staff cannot be in the same physical location.
Individuals or teams in an organization may be distributed for reasons such as: –
- Branch offices in different geographical locations – towns, cities, and even entirely different time zones!
- Organizational structural segregation, i.e., different departments located in different physical locations (floors or geographical locations). With coworkers from different departments working separately on a single project, there’s a higher likelihood of vital information slipping through the cracks. For example, creating a new product may require your marketing, design, and technical teams’ joint effort. With digital collaboration, you can have all workers collaborate seamlessly in a single workspace – through co-authoring a document, chat, or full-blown virtual meetings.
- Remote workers – especially because of the coronavirus pandemic, many more organizations are embracing remote working today. Some organizations continue to encourage their staff to work from home in shifts or entirely. Online collaboration can support remote workers to deliver effectively despite being away from the office.
- External parties – online collaboration doesn’t just provide a virtual interactive workspace for employees. Documents on these spaces can also be shared with partners, clients, and suppliers, eliminating the need to attach company documents on email.
iii. Reduced overheads with remote working supported by digital collaboration
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, some companies were embracing remote working. But now, many more have gone remote and have adopted collaboration tools for some or all of their staff. Although the move was put in place to counter the spread of the virus, remote work has a ton of other benefits. Remote working with digital collaboration helps to:
- Reduce the reliance on paper and saves the costs of printing, storing, maintenance, filing, etc.
- Get rid of ugly file cabinets.
- Minimize office finances like rent, stationery, consumables like coffee/tea, utilities like water, electricity, office cleaning staff and material costs, etc.
- Save commute time for employees, which results in higher productivity.
- Minimize the need for unnecessary office meetings and office politics.
- Saves on travel expenses. Team members need not book expensive flights and secure hotel accommodation to attend face-to-face business meetings in far-flung locations.
iv. Easier to control access to information
Digital document collaboration makes it easy to control who should have access to what content. Access to files, folders, documents can be granted to specific users only as needed.
v. Easier workflow tracking with digital document collaboration
The most compelling case for online document collaboration is it makes tracking workflows easy and reduces confusion. More often than not, you start emailing back and forth different versions of a document as it’s being revised. Knowing which is the most recent version can be confusing.
Remember the last time you had to email files back and forth? Were you ever unsure if you were working on the most current version of a file? Those days are over. A digital document collaboration tool cuts out this email mess. Team members in any project can work together on the same document at the same time. Everyone can always see the current working version of a document. They can also edit or view changes that have been made by others without sending email attachments back and forth all day.
You can also simply tag a team member(s) to review a document, find out who made a change to a document, and when they did it. You can also see how the document looked before the changes were made.
vi. Digital collaboration encourages employee engagement
Digital collaboration tools improve employee participation and engagement. They do a great job of providing an environment that encourages collaboration and feedback.
One common problem in organizations is the dreaded email “CC: list.” Often a message is sent to many people with a request for comment or feedback, but nobody ever responds. Everyone on the “CC: list” assumes that someone else will respond.
With online document collaboration, everyone (with access to the document) can see comments or revisions done by others. As is human nature, once one person sees that others are commenting, it naturally leads to increased engagement.
vii. Faster document reviews and increased overall office efficiency
If you’re a middle manager, you probably spend about 35% of your time in a meeting. And this can go up to 50% if you are part of upper management.
If your office is constantly calling meetings or arranging conference calls to review documents, one quick way to boost overall office efficiency is digital document collaboration.
Digital collaboration helps to cut down unproductive time spent in meetings discussing documents. Using a document collaboration tool, anyone with access rights can comment on or edit documents quickly. As soon as changes in a document are ready, you can send a quick comment to everyone involved, and they can share their feedback or start making changes to it. If complex changes need to be made, you can have an audio/video call to discuss specific issues.
Another crucial online collaboration tool to improve efficiency in the workplace is instant messaging. Real-time instant messaging such as MailSafi Talk can get you in touch with your team members in seconds rather than waiting for time to reply to your email. Sometimes just firing off a quick question on chat and getting a prompt response is more useful than sending it via email.
With instant messaging, employees can check-in and problem-solve quickly. Also, teams can collaborate from anywhere, anytime. Saving chat history helps hold on to the thinking that went into a decision.
viii. Online collaboration improves business execution
With the mobile-first approach of today’s communication and collaboration, employees can tackle business problems on-the-go. Many employees today have smart mobile devices and may want to use them for collaboration not just when out of the office, but even when in meetings in the board room to pull up information for clarification.
Online digital collaboration tools provide a one-stop-solution for teammates to work, document, chat, share, and store data, enabling them to solve problems and make timely decisions.
ix. Stores and shares knowledge
Digital document collaboration tools also allow organizations to document and store employees’ know-how and experience to train future hires. In this way, the organization’s knowledge does not leave when the employee does, or as would be the case where documents are stored on local workstations or held in an individual’s mailbox.
Digital document collaboration can effectively double up as a document management system because current or future employees can easily access documents and media stored on these platforms. This ultimately lays the foundation for a much more efficient workforce.
In conclusion, digital collaboration is a growing trend in today’s workplace whose benefits are multifold. Digital collaboration saves time and effort, improves workflows, fosters teamwork, and increases productivity.
Are you impressed by what you stand to gain by implementing an online digital collaboration tool in your business? If so, you can kickstart your online digital collaboration with MailSafi. MailSafi offers a cloud-based document collaboration tool that helps teams create, manage, and track all business documents in one place.
Get your teams together in a MailSafi collaboration workspace and create presentations, PDFs, sales and marketing collateral, investor updates documents, employee training guides – basically any workplace document. Contact us today to discuss how our solution can work for your organization.