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Collaboration challenge #4: Overwhelming collaboration

Collaboration overload - all the tools (email/slack etc) are supposed to help productivity but end up spending time answering emails etc.

In week 1 we looked at some of the digital tools available to us to aid remote collaboration. One mistake that teams can make is believing that technology will solve their communication problems or that using the tools is collaboration in itself. But there is so much more to working well together as a team.

We are lucky to have so many amazing collaboration tools available that can support us in our teamwork, especially when we are working remotely. But equally, we need to be mindful that we don’t get overwhelmed by this technology and that it gets in the way of us getting our work done.

Sometimes these tools can take up time because we’re trying to find information or respond to messages. Or we find that we’ve missed information and duplicated work that has already been done.

The best way to use these tools is to first think about what you need to get done as a team and then find the right one to support your work, rather than just using a tool because it is available.

Then once you have chosen the right tool, together with your team set guidelines and expectations for how you will use it, including when people are expected to respond. Good collaboration is a balance between group and individual work. So you can also schedule time for this, away from the collaboration tools and meetings so people know they can focus on their tasks without being interrupted.

Also decide on the right time to use which platform – for example, when is it appropriate to send an email, call for a quick chat or to set up a team meeting.

There is a range of tools available for what your team might need to accomplish.

Tools for communication: what will you use to stay in regular contact with your team?

  • Email
  • Slack
  • Whatsapp
  • Video software like Zoom, BlueJeans, Google Meet or Whereby

Tools for visual collaboration: how will you brainstorm, share images or inspiration or create concept boards?

  • Google Jamboard
  • Miro
  • Mural

Tools for sharing files: how will you document your work-in-progress and ensure you always have the latest version?

  • Google Docs
  • Dropbox

Tools for project and task management: how will you make sure that the timeline and tasks are always visible and up-to-date?

  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Monday

Are there any additional tools you use to collaborate? And how do you work with multiple platforms and avoid them overwhelming you? Share them in the comments below.

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