From ecommerce to in-store businesses, the advancing of mobile technologies is improving productivity across diverse industries. Forbes reports employee mobility improves processes by 30 percent and boosts productivity by 23 percent. Having cloud-based communication tools for document storage, video meetings, chat communication, and social feeds for employees improves satisfaction and leads to better sales.
Research by McKinsey & Company shows using social technologies alone can raise productivity by up to 25 percent. Giving employees an easy way to communicate means problems are dealt with more quickly, valuable ideas can be shared and improved upon, and work-based communications hold employees accountable for contributing to the team.
Here are five tools to consider.
1. G Suite
Google’s product offering for businesses includes email communication, video chat, cloud storage, and more. For employees who are already familiar with using a Gmail email address, transitioning to this program for work communication is simple and easy. The G Suite features Google Hangouts, which is a way to have voice calls or video meetings directly in a user’s inbox. The Google Drive cloud storage feature allows users to store assets like ecommerce store design materials or photos for flyers and other marketing materials.
There is also a Calendar feature for work meetings, office document features like Sheets for spreadsheets and Slides for slideshows, and Forms that allow real-time editing for collaborative documents. All features work on mobile, enabling work-from-anywhere capabilities.
Trello is a project management tool that has a card-based interface. Trello “boards” can be created for various teams, which use project-based cards to alert team members of tasks that need to be accomplished. Various phases of task completion are visible to all team members, so individuals are held responsible for accomplishing their portions. Each card includes the ability to notify specific team members and add notes, as well as upload pertinent documents.
Notifications on Trello alert project members via the app, email, on the desktop, or through mobile push notifications. There is also a calendar extension that makes due dates easy to manage. Trello can be used to organize training schedules, supply fulfillments, website design, special event execution, design projects, and more. It also integrates with services like Google Drive and Salesforce, streamlining business document storage or customer relationship management with project execution.
Skype for Business is an ideal collaboration tool for meetings with remote workers and out-of-town or out-of-country employees. A meeting can occur without the other party having to download Skype and only requires a phone or internet connection. Up to 250 people can meet at one time, which also adds to Skype’s value as a video conferencing tool for businesses with multiple locations, such as a corporation that wants to connect multiple franchises around the country for a company-wide meeting.
Skype works on any device, enabling employees with smartphones and tablets to join in. Skype also serves as a chat tool, where different teams can engage in group chats. The chat feature also works during meetings, allowing pertinent information to be conveyed immediately during a meeting. Conversations are stored for future reference. A free version of Skype includes similar capabilities and allows for up to 25 people per call.
Employees who work for multiple teams who are looking for an effective chat and collaboration tool can use Slack to eliminate crowded email inboxes. Users can segment communications into channels based on topics, teams, projects, or any other category, which can be made public or private for larger team access. Voice and video calls can also occur, with live screen-sharing capabilities.
Users can share documents within Slack, which also works with storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox. All communications and documents are searchable. By giving users the ability to use Slack with other services they’re already using, such as Twitter, Slack aims to be the one-stop service users need for all communications. The free version is quite powerful alone, allowing for message archives of up to 10,000 recent messages and the ability to integrate 10 apps or services. Paid versions offer additional user control.
Any employees who use Facebook will have no problem adapting to Yammer, a business social communication tool whose interface is similar to the social media behemoth. Group feeds enable communication chains and document sharing, and the familiar design facilitates thoughtful group discussions.
Yammer is a great place to boost company culture, by encouraging sharing of industry-related news or creating discussions for team members to participate in. It also serves as an alternative for employees who don’t want to have to join a network like Facebook but who still want the ability to participate in social discussions with coworkers.
Increase Likelihood of Communication Tool Adoption
Despite the evidence of communication tools improving business, they’re only effective when they’re embraced by their team. A study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting found 63 percent of business leaders say the pace of technology change in their organizations is too slow. To speed things up, follow these practices:
- Survey employees on what they’d most like to use. This involves employees in the process and gives them more choice in what is being implemented, which can increase adoption and usage.
- Offer proper training. Allocate time and resources into guiding employees through how to use features, and convey benefits during training.
- Be an example. If you want to get more employee participation in a social forum, be sure to post discussion topics there yourself. As a manager or business owner, your own passion can motivate your employees to get on board.
It’s also worth trying out multiple types of cloud-based communication tools before settling on one. This gives workers the chance to determine what will be most efficient for them to boost their productivity.