Cloud Collaboration – what’s the big deal?
Collaboration is fundamental to the success of business. When teams work together, problems are solved more quickly and new ideas are generated that help to make businesses better.
Research underlines the importance of collaboration. One survey found that 86% of respondents believed a lack of collaboration had caused the failure of projects they had worked on. Another revealed that nearly 40% of employees didn’t feel there was enough collaboration in their workplaces.
Collaboration is so central to business that for years it stopped many organisations fully embracing flexible working. They understood the benefits of letting employees work from home some of the time, avoiding the grind of a daily commute and helping them to achieve better work/life balance. But they also wondered how collaboration would be achieved when teams were rarely together in the same physical space.
The pandemic forced a change of thinking. When Covid struck, many employees transitioned to home working almost overnight. Organisations had to learn to collaborate virtually, or suffer the consequences.
None of that is going away. We’re entering a new age of work, with flexible hours as standard and remote and hybrid working becoming the norm in many sectors and businesses. During the pandemic, many organisations bolted a video conferencing app onto their standard communications services and hoped that was enough. As we transition to permanent flexible working, the adoption of more rounded and full-featured collaboration tools is becoming increasingly necessary.
What is cloud collaboration?
The tool most businesses are adopting is cloud collaboration.
To put it simply, cloud collaboration is a way for colleagues to see, comment on and edit the same documents at the same time, making changes in real time.
You might see it as the equivalent of two or three colleagues gathered round the same screen in the office, making suggestions on ways to make it better that can be discussed, amended and actioned instantly.
With cloud collaboration, everyone has access to the same documents wherever they are, even if they’re in different locations and on different devices.
For example, one employee, sitting at his desk in the office, uses group chat to ask for advice on the layout of an important client report. A colleague, working from his back bedroom at home, adds an image to the title screen that brings the report to life. A third, on the train to a meeting, is viewing this activity on a smartphone and suggests a line of text to accompany the image.
Whatever the document, edits are visible to everyone, and all changes are synced and saved instantly, so that colleagues are always working on the latest, most up-to-date version.
In this way, cloud collaboration allows teams to work together even when they’re physically far apart. It’s a technology that is helping to drive the new enthusiasm for remote and hybrid working.
The benefits of cloud collaboration
Cloud collaboration has a range of major benefits for business, whether employees are working remotely or not.
- Productivity – Cloud collaboration helps teams work faster, and more efficiently. When everyone involved in a project can see the same document, suggest changes and edit in real time, it speeds up the creative process and makes approval easy.
And with everything stored in the cloud, team members can get hold of the materials they need at any time, wherever they are. Sometimes inspiration hits at the most unlikely times. Colleagues who are struck by a creative thunderbolt can act on it instantly, regardless of location, time or device.
- Simplicity – Cloud collaboration creates one version of the truth. Instead of long email trails with a new attachment for every amendment and addition, cloud collaboration simply presents your team with the latest version of a document, fully synced and up to date. There’s never any need to email updated versions of documents to relevant colleagues. Updating is automatic. An alert can be sent to every participant whenever a change is made, so nobody ever feels out of the loop.
- Participation – Because all employees have the same access to projects, everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute. In fact, this might be more true with cloud collaboration than with traditional teamwork that happens in the same space, when loud voices and big personalities tend to dominate. With cloud collaboration, those less vocal or demonstrative members of the team can easily add suggestions to group chat or show what a change might look like on the screen without having to explain it.
- Communication and collaboration – Collaboration isn’t just about making real-time changes. Communication is vital, allowing your team to talk through problems, find creative solutions and put its hive mind to good use. Cloud collaboration lets your dispersed team share files and documents and then talk them through, using audio and video conferencing, group chat and IM.
- Security – Because your documents and projects are stored in the cloud, rather than on someone’s computer, it’s more secure. Most cloud tools save automatically whenever a change is made. Conversations can be recorded. All this data is stored in a secure data centre that will be far less vulnerable to floods, fire, damage and theft than the average small business office. In most cases, it will be saved more than once, in different locations. Cloud collaboration tools are increasingly part of many organisations’ business continuity planning.
Tools for the job
There are various types of tools that help facilitate cloud collaboration.
Document storage tools like Google Docs and Dropbox let you safely store and retrieve work, with everyone synced to the latest version. Meanwhile, productivity tools like G-Suite and Office 365 let colleagues work on documents in the cloud and, if necessary, at the same time.
Then there are project management tools like Trello, Asana and Basecamp, which allow managers to keep control of projects, monitoring progress and ensuring deadlines are always met.
Finally, there are communication-based tools that allow for virtual meetings, one-to-one chats, conferencing, file sharing and screen sharing, letting colleagues collaborate in real time, wherever they are, in the way that works best for them. Microsoft Teams, Skype and Google Hangouts are obvious examples.
And the great thing is that MiCloud Flex can store your documents, just like G-Suite. It can help keep your team to their deadlines, just like Asana, and it can bring your staff and customers closer together with all the video/audio calling and Instant Messaging features you’re used to across Teams and Zoom. MiCloud Flex can do it all… and more!
Cloud collaboration is the new normal
The main takeaway from all this is that cloud collaboration is the new normal for many businesses, so you need to get it right.
Mobile and remote working means teams are increasingly dispersed, but they still need to work together for the benefit of your business. A range of cloud-based tools have emerged to make that easier and more efficient. Teamwork is no longer reliant on physical proximity.
That has lots of advantages, because cloud collaboration promotes creativity, encourages participation and simplifies the collaboration process. But you do need the right tools for the job. A bolted on video calling app is no longer enough as remote work becomes a permanent fixture of corporate life.
Cloud collaboration is increasingly vital for the smooth running of dispersed organisations. If you’d like to know more from Unicomm, please get in touch.
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