Ed: The work flowing through our office seems more like the pyroclastic flows from Mt. Vesuvius. Everything is hot, important and requires a fast turnaround. The work just keeps coming and coming and coming. It’s a good problem to have, I guess, but as the creative lead of a small team, it’s important to me that the work we produce maintains a high-level of quality and accuracy.
For that to happen, a high-level of communication and collaboration is required. It truly takes the entire team working together to get all of the projects completed and done well.
To help manage our flow of work, I use an online tool called Robohead. We also recently hired out of retirement, the well-respected, former executive assistant to our CEO. She now proofs and coordinates our project traffic. She has more than 25 years of company and industry knowledge and is a great communicator, efficient, detailed and now wears several of the hats the team wore, making our day-to-day jobs more bearable. We even have her attend project-planning meetings to take action item notes so we can stay focused on generating ideas and serving the needs of our internal clients to the best of our collective capabilities.
What are some additional tools I can offer my entire in-house team that will keep us communicating and collaborating successfully when our workflow is heaviest?Photo from Shutterstock
Emily Parks: In today’s work environments, that situation arises often, Ed. As workers are asked to take on more, 46% say they fill 3 to 4 employee roles in any given day while another 30% fill 5 to 6 roles, making it the new norm for folks to wear multiple hats.
The only way for businesses to truly succeed is to embrace a team philosophy, where team members believe together, everyone achieves more. Collaboration, communication and proper scheduling often make this more successful, and lots of tools aid these elements.
While collaboration can get a bit tricky, the right tools help make it more feasible. With the ubiquity of its “real time” sharing across all devices as well as the ability of its impressive search, Evernote offers an exceptional tool for collaboration, allowing team members to share notebooks with “view notes” or “modify notes” options.
Whether you choose Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive, Spider Oak, Sugar Sync or another alternative, an online file repository is a vital tech tool for collaboration since it will allow your team to store files in the cloud for easily sharing with others or between devices.
Plus, for teams using more than one online file repository option, you can avoid fragmentation by keeping all your “clouds” together with solutions like CloudCube on Android or Office2 HD on iOS devices. Further, Quip Business combines all “in process” documents within one, shared tool for a visual representation of edits to show what was changed by whom when so team members can message about projects from various workspaces, and Hojoki merges data from multiple apps to one platform. Only with the right tools can team members act cohesively for best results.
Likewise, there are tools to aid in communication required of today’s teams. Whether you choose Zoho CRM, HighriseHQ, Nutshell, Batchbook, SalesForce or another alternative, a customer relationship manager is a vital tech tool for communication since it will allow team members to share clients’ information and history with the company, including all interactions. Voice Over IP phone solutions record voice mail messages from calls so they’re emailed to the person being called, allowing messages related to all team members to be more easily shared with others.
While it’s important to break projects into actionable tasks, connecting each task with a responsible party on your team, scheduling tools aid in assigning necessary deadlines. Whether you choose a task manager from Any.Do, HiTask, Trello, Wunderlist and the like or a project manager such as Apollo, Asana, Basecamp, MavenLink, Robohead and Teamwork PM, technology aids in the pacing of any team’s production. Plus, with Doodle, teams can schedule meetings for what best fits most invitees’ availability without overloading individuals’ inboxes with discussion.
In-house managers, how can your team use these tools to better collaborate, communicate and schedule productivity? Are you using other alternatives and, if so, which do you prefer?
About Emily Parks
Emily Parks, owner of Organize for Success, is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers & the Institute for Challenging Disorganization as well as a graduate of the Institute for Professional Organizers. With a background in automotive marketing and college sports operations, Emily provides confidential, one-on-one consulting (in-person or via Skype) and team training, helping you increase efficiency, boost productivity, accomplish more in less time, quickly locate what you need when you need it and maximize your physical space for optimal output.
Get even more hiring advice at the In-House Management Conference at HOW Design Live 2014.