Tools for digital work
Dr. Anja C. Wagner advises organizations on digital education and modern workflows. Depending on the field of application, various tools and work processes are used, as she explains: "For example, we regularly organize video conferences with Google Hangouts. Participants can log the conversation in an Etherpad document - all together in real time or beyond. "
The benefits are obvious to the consultant: "Everyone sees immediately what the other has contributed. This not only saves time, because you do not have to wait for someone else to work on you, or you do not know exactly which version of a document is the newest one. And: Together you are more creative! "
This also applies to collaboration in closed Facebook groups, Google+ communities, with Dropbox, Google Drive or Google Office applications, in which project participants can edit texts, presentations or Excel sheets together in real time or with a time delay. In addition, Slack serves as eMailReplacement and with Evernote personal thoughts or notes are digitized and shared. "For time-critical tasks, we use Trello as a project management environment. Here you can define tasks, appointments and responsibilities dynamically, comment and work together, "explains Wagner.
Clear rules are necessary
However, in order for the digital collaboration to work smoothly, clear rules and common goals are necessary: "Great things can come about through digital collaboration - keyword collective intelligence. But it needs 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.
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 the practice knows: "executives ask (me) often, how they are to perceive the achievement of their coworkers, if they do not see these?" To the solution she recommends clear target agreements and collaboration tools such as chats, wikis or digital boards, in which constantly sharing team members' status and outcomes, as well as knowledge bases where knowledge is available anytime, anywhere.
Employees must know goals and rules
Employees should be aware of goals and rules for working with IT and collaboration tools, as well as mentors as contact persons: "Everyone must know where and how documents and results are stored in knowledge and project databases, and what wording and response times in communication , even in conflicts, are common ", explains van der Markt, And also interpersonal matters: "Videoconferencing 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 at least once or twice a year you should meet in person, "said counselor 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.
10 Popular Virtual Collaboration Tools
- Trello organizes projects and individual tasks not in lists, but in index cards, with which the user can visually interact.
- Asana lets Mutzer follow projects and tasks as well as search the entire project history. So you always stay up to date.
- Wunderlist now belongs to Microsoft. The app applications are reduced to task management, notes, file attachments and comments and there is a business version.
- Slack optimizes communication in workgroups. You can exchange messages, chat and collaborate on documents and integrate other online services.
- 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.
- Evernote allows you to collect, organize, share, and find notes, documents, and photos in a variety of formats.
- Dropbox is used for online data storage, but also for the exchange of data between different persons and devices.
- Flow allows you to group and tag tasks into lists, have multiple users collaborate on and discuss a task, and share files.
- Todoist lets you create and prioritize projects and subprojects as well as hierarchical tasks, attach files, assign appointments or create reports.
- Conceptboard offers "online whiteboards" with an infinite workspace where 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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