Management and Human Resources 4.0: 10 tools for digital collaboration


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Company Like Google, Microsoft or WordPress, they free their employees when and where they work. Offices and fixed working hours are redundant, instead they work together worldwide via digital communication channels. What advantages and disadvantages do digital forms of communication offer? And what do you have to consider?

Lead Digital_11_2015

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Tools for digital work

Dr. Anja C. Wagner advises organizations on digital education and modern workflows. Depending on the area of ​​application, different tools and work processes are used, as she explains: “For example, we regularly organize video conferences with Google Hangouts. The participants can record the conversation in an Etherpad document - all together in real time or beyond. ”

The advantages for the consultant are obvious: “Everyone immediately sees what the other has contributed. This not only saves time because you don't have to wait for others to edit it or you don't know exactly which version of a document is the latest. And: together you are more creative! ”

This also applies to cooperation in closed facebook-Groups, Google+ communities, with Dropbox, Google Drive or the Google Office applications, in which the project participants can edit texts, presentations or Excel sheets together in real time or with a delay. Slack also serves as a eMail-Replacement and Evernote digitize and exchange personal thoughts or notes. “For time-critical tasks, we use Trello as a project management environment. Here you can dynamically define, comment and work through tasks, dates and responsibilities, ”explains Wagner.

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Clear rules are necessary

However, in order for digital collaboration to work smoothly, clear rules and common goals are required: “Great things can come about through digital collaboration - keyword collective intelligence. But it takes trust, ”Wagner is convinced.

Many Company Meanwhile, the benefits of virtual work environments such as for meetings, training or even in job interviews. You save time and costs for time-consuming travel. According to RW3 CultureWizard's Virtual Teams Survey Report, 2012 30.000 surveyed 87 employees and 50% of their employees. Nevertheless, studies such as the Monster Recruiting Trends 2015 show just how great skepticism still is in Germany: 79,8 percent of respondents said that flexible working hours are a challenge for cooperation.

Reservations among employees and management

The reservations do not come from the management alone, but also from the employees, who are afraid that they have more work to do by their absent colleagues or, conversely, that they are cut off from important information. Technical feasibility is not the problem: as the IRCAD Strasbourg demonstrated, even virtual surgery is not a problem today, let alone digital conferencing.

The RW3 study underlines much more that building trust is a common challenge in decentralized teams: 75 percent of respondents said it is difficult to develop trust in virtual teams. 79 percent complained too little time for relationship building and 71 percent too little sympathy. At 33 percent, half of the team members did not live in their own country, so working in different time zones makes communication difficult and burdensome. 70 percent are bothered by cultural differences in conflict management, especially since 41 percent of their virtual colleagues have never met in person.

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Legal uncertainties

Legally, too, the topic of virtual work is fraught with imponderables. For example, the Federal Association of Labor Lawyers in Companies recently drew attention to the fact that self-determined working hours contradict the applicable labor law - and called for deregulation. And employees who use their personal devices and tools to manipulate and store business data represent a not insignificant security risk for enterprise data security and IT systems.

The biggest problem, however, is likely to be measurable performance, such as executive coach and management consultant Roswitha A. van der Markt From practice knows: “Managers often ask (me) how they should perceive the performance of their employees if they don't see them?” To solve this, she recommends clear target agreements and collaboration tools such as chats, wikis or digital boards, in which team members can constantly exchange information about the status and results of their work, as well as knowledge databases, in which knowledge is available at all times and for everyone.

Employees must know goals and rules

Employees should know the goals and rules for working with IT and collaboration tools, as well as mentors as contacts: “Everyone needs to know where and how documents and results are stored in knowledge and project databases and which wording, which reaction times in communication , even in conflicts, are common ”, explains van der Markt. And interpersonal matters too: “Video conferences also convey facial expressions, gestures and mood. In addition, space should be created for informal communication without a goal just for fun, such as the virtual coffee hour, as a virtual meeting at the coffee bar. And you should meet personally at least once or twice a year, ”said the consultant van der Markt.

Virtual work posed great challenges for companies and employees alike. In order to cope with them, many new workflows and structures have to be created. Only then can this change succeed.

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10 Popular Virtual Collaboration Tools

  1. Trello organizes projects and individual tasks not in lists, but in index cards, with which the user can visually interact.
  2. Asana lets Mutzer follow projects and tasks as well as search the entire project history. So you always stay up to date.
  3. Wunderlist now belongs to Microsoft. The app applications are reduced to task management, notes, file attachments and comments and there is a business version.
  4. Slack optimizes communication in workgroups. You can exchange messages, chat and collaborate on documents and integrate other online services.
  5. EtherPad is a web-based editor for collaborative editing of text by multiple people in real time. All changes are immediately visible to all participants.
  6. Evernote allows you to collect, organize, share, and find notes, documents, and photos in a variety of formats.
  7. Dropbox is used for online data storage, but also for the exchange of data between different persons and devices.
  8. Flow allows you to group and tag tasks into lists, have multiple users collaborate on and discuss a task, and share files.
  9. Todoist lets you create and prioritize projects and subprojects as well as hierarchical tasks, attach files, assign appointments or create reports.
  10. Conceptboard offers “online whiteboards” with an infinitely large work surface on which users can place and manage images and documents (PDF, Excel, Word, etc.). Text and audio chats as well as video conferences are possible.

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