Collaborate Online with Ease (and stop the Email Madness!)

The Old Systems Don’t Work

Be honest: During the past month have you done one or more of these things?

  • Called a colleague or client because they haven’t responded to your emails?
  • Apologized to a colleague or client because you missed one of their emails?
  • Called an in-person or conference call meeting because miscommunications between team members are slowing down your projects?
  • Missed a deliverable due date because team members didn’t understand their role(s) in the process?

Ten years ago, email was touted as the solution to business communication problems. To be fair, it did facilitate better collaboration and communication . . . at least for a while.

Eventually, everyone started using email, for everything from asking simple questions to leading building to project management. But not everyone used email effectively. Whether it’s the new team member or employee, someone has received a long confusing forwarded message intended to provide history and background on a project. Even worse, many people never learned how to manage and organize their inboxes.

Email wasn’t designed as a task management system and has proven to be a less than ideal collaboration tool. The Radicati Group research firm expects more than 154.6 billion emails to be sent daily by 2.31 billion email users in 2013. People spend countless hours reading, filing and searching within their email. This method is ineffective and time consuming.

The result? A lot of frustration and missed opportunities. Team members were left off cc lists, project emails were lost in spam traps and people ended up inadvertently deleting crucial communications.

Getting Everyone in the Same Place

The one advantage of the old fashioned in-person meeting is that everyone is in the same place. If someone isn’t present, their absence is noted. Face-to-face communication allows participants to look for signs of understanding or confusion. Team leaders assign tasks and get a verbal commitment from team members to perform these tasks.

Fortunately, it’s possible to get the “everyone in the same place” benefit of in-person meetings with online collaboration platforms. By doing business in one place, there is less risk of missed emails and misunderstood expectations. Project managers can break out projects and teams so that all communications are highly relevant to recipients.

Fewer misunderstandings + Targeted communication = Higher-quality work delivered on time.

Getting Everyone on Board

Not everyone is going to learn how to collaborate online at the same pace, which is why it’s important to select a user-friendly collaboration platform. It’s also important to get key team members and office executives familiar with the system quickly. Consistent use of the platform ensures that staff will quickly learn and adapt to the system, while relying less on email to get business done.

Leveraging email systems businesses already have in place, Teambox has launched two plugins that allow users to quickly convert emails to collaborative tasks in the Teambox platform.

Teambox for Outlook & Gmail adds task collaboration features to allow users to convert emails to tasks, access and create tasks from Outlook and Gmail, and access Teambox apps from inside email. The Teambox Gmail and Outlook extensions encourage and facilitate team work and cooperation, gives teams a productivity boost by converting emails into tasks, and allows you to easily access all tasks from your email.

Teambox for Outlook can be downloaded from the Teambox website; Teambox for Gmail is available in the Chrome store.

Final Word

Learning how to collaborate online is a matter of doing some research, exploring new apps and technologies and leading your team as it navigates a new process.

Once the right tools are in place, team collaboration becomes less frustrating and more productive, improving morale, client satisfaction and your bottom line.