Used effectively, team collaboration platforms like Trello and Slack can give a real boost to productivity, for organizations that routinely run projects requiring group input. With email, video, or direct messaging tools, these platforms make it easy for team members to stay in touch – regardless of the time, or their physical location. Mobile app versions of these collaboration tools enable workers to respond instantly to communications from their colleagues, and upload or download vital content in real time.
Real Time Issues With Collaboration Platforms
Instantaneous communication can lead to information overload, with workers being overwhelmed by a constant barrage of notifications and messages from other team members. And with the wide array of tools that these platforms generally offer, it can be difficult to sort out which ones are best to use, or even how they actually work. Here are some recommendations for getting the most out of your team collaboration apps.
Cut Out The Noise With Do Not Disturb
It’s reckoned that the average human needs 23 minutes to get back on track with the task they’re working on, after being interrupted for any reason.
Most team collaboration apps have a Do Not Disturb (DND) feature which you can switch on when you need to focus on completing a particular task, without interruptions. A DND mode tool generally turns off notifications from the app, and sends a signal to your colleagues that you wish to dedicate your attention to a specific project.
This signal may not be that clear, so it’s a good idea to keep your team mates in the loop when you’re going offline in this manner. This is especially important if you’re a member of an active team that’s collaborating with mutual deadlines.
Some kind of “panic button” which can be triggered to break through a Do Not Disturb barrier in extreme circumstances is also worth considering. This might take the form of an SMS message outside the bounds of the app.
Allow Notifications Only Within Specified Times
As real-time communications and team collaboration technologies become more widespread, there’s been an increasing debate about the “right to disconnect”. Legislators in France have even gone so far as to ban obligations requiring that employees respond to email messages outside of working hours.
Organizations with a globally dispersed workforce may face issues with team members operating in different time zones, for whom notifications or live conversations taking place on the collaboration platform may arrive at very early or very late hours. Some degree of flexibility is therefore advisable. Allowing workers to set their app preferences to transmit notifications only within a specified time range is one way of dealing with this dilemma.
These settings may work on an individual basis, or collectively. For example, along with separate user settings, the Slack platform allows administrators to designate a default quiet time for all employees, during which they can’t be disturbed by colleagues.
Spread A Wider Message Through Channels
Many chat-based team collaboration platforms offer channels, which are dedicated hubs for discussing particular issues or topics. These may range from company business announcements to social interests.
Channels and group chat can provide more focused discussion forums. They can also serve as an effective tool for organization-wide communication of important subjects, allowing the business to broadcast information to a large group without having to engage in multiple private conversations.
Only Tune Into Relevant Channels Or Group Chats
If your interests cover numerous channels or group chats, your time spent on the collaboration platform could be consumed in these venues alone, at the expense of more productive work. For this reason, it’s important to be selective and prudent when deciding which channels and group chats you subscribe to.
Configure your notification settings to give a reasonable spread. For instance, you might set mobile and desktop notifications for when someone @mentions you, or if there’s activity in a specific channel that interests you. If there’s a channel or group that you don’t want to leave for good, you can often mute it temporarily.
For certain types of discussion, you may be able to use email or a cloud document service, instead of chat.
Rationalize The Number Of Collaboration Apps You Use
Organizations often rely on several productivity tools for collaboration and communicating with workers, with the result that the same conversations can occur in multiple places. With information spread out over multiple team collaboration platforms, it’s possible to over-stress your workers and induce a sense of “app overload.” In addition, switching between all the different solutions for different tasks may cause workers to lose focus and momentum, driving down efficiency and productivity.
The ideal is to have everything available in a single centralized platform, so that users don’t have to move between different apps. Collaboration software vendors are actually making moves towards this ideal. Platforms like Slack and Dropbox for example are offering third-party application integrations which allow users to perform a range of tasks without having to switch apps.
Single Task, Rather Than Multitask
Though often considered a virtue, multitasking isn’t always as valuable as people think. The ability to properly focus on a single task at a time can be a more productive, and less stressful. In a team collaboration environment with its notifications and multiple tasks, this kind of focus requires willpower.
A single task approach also demands the discipline to set aside sufficient quality time to focus on one job exclusively. This may require you to allocate a predetermined amount of time to finish a given project, and to set priorities or goals.
Team collaboration apps enable users to share files and ideas, and manage projects from beginning to completion – all without having to be anywhere near each other. With these recommendations, you’ll be able to maximize on your time and efforts on whatever team collaboration platform you use.