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Helping your team adjust to online collaboration

by Celine on September 29th, 2008

Not everyone has embraced the plethora of web apps that made online collaboration what it is today. Part of this may have to do with the fact that traditional collaboration is working well for the team, as well as the reluctance to adapt to new ways. Most of us, especially those working in a corporate environment, are used to boardroom meetings and conference calls. These tried and tested techniques have their place in the business world, but sometimes, adapting new technologies into our work process makes it more efficient.

If you’ve done your research and discovered that online collaboration will increase your team’s productivity, what do you do if your team is reluctant to adapt? More importantly, how do you make it a less bumpy transition for everyone involved?

One way to start is by showing them your research. It helps to produce estimated numbers on how much time or money online collaboration will save you. Don’t use any Web 2.0 jargon as this might intimidate them further. After all, you’re supposed to make them comfortable with the idea of online collaboration. If you can find some case studies of actual teams that already reaped the benefits of online collaboration, include and refer to them in your proposal.

Make the transition slowly. Instead of moving all collaboration online in one giant step, take small steps with your team by starting with the smallest tasks or projects first. A step-by-step move to web collaboration allows your team to adapt better, and even to give suggestions along the way to improve the workflow. This helps you work out small kinks in your system as you go along, which is preferable to making corrections only when all of your projects have moved online.

Look for collaboration tools that aren’t too different from current software you’re using. People are less hesitant to accept new things if there’s some amount of familiarity. Choose collaboration tools that have a similar interface with software that they’re used to working with. This way, using the new tools will feel more intuitive for your team. If it’s possible, find ways for their new and old tools to sync, but lessen your team’s dependency on these syncing features as time progresses.

Offer your team some training resources that show them how to use their new tools. Whether it’s a video tutorial or a one-on-one teaching session, take the time to show them the features of their collaboration tools. While you’re taking the tools for a spin, tell them the actual benefits of each feature. For example, don’t just say “Google Docs allows you to share files with your other teammates.” Try adding something like “This means that there will be less emailing back-and-forth from everyone when we’re editing a report. There will be less clutter on your email inbox and hard drive.” This shows your team what a particular feature means for them. It’s very specific and it shows that you had their best interests in mind when proposing the switch to online collaboration.

It also helps if you let your team know that the switch to online collaboration is reversible. Tell them “Let’s try it for a month, and if it doesn’t work out we can go back to the way we were doing things.” You’ll find that when they see the benefits of online collaboration themselves, it’s much easier to convince them to integrate it with their regular work process. Just make sure you can quantify when something doesn’t work out - whether it’s an efficiency rating, or money and time savings. Your basis of what works and what doesn’t has to be measurable, not just based on perception.

By implementing the tips above, it will be easier for your team to accept online collaboration as part of their working lives. If it’s done right, they’ll probably even wonder how they were able to work without these tools in the past.

Image by Mark Robinson  from sxc.hu

POSTED IN: Collaboration tools, Workplace pimps

2 opinions for Helping your team adjust to online collaboration

  • Richie Strauss
    Oct 18, 2020 at 1:08 am

    Mark have shared with us an issue which every organization faces while introducing a new collaboration tool to the work flow, even if it doesn’t change the work flow by much. There could be reluctance to the use of the tool initially, but when people start working with the tool and get used to it, they can’t even think of working without it anymore…
    This is true…We’d been introduced to TAROBY (http://www.taroby.org), a collaboration suite for sharing mails with your team mates, two months back or so…, TAROBY has now fit into the role of an effective Team mate. Taroby acts as a Team Inbox. Earlier, we used to forward mails to our team mates…Now we don’t have to do that as everyone in the team shares the same Inbox, Working with TAROBY is a lot more productive than the tradition way. It has got a lot of other Cool features!!
    But we realize it only after a period of reluctance, however short it may be. TAROBY definitely is An Effective Collaboration Tool and it has just fitted in brilliantly to our team.

  • Godzhesas
    Nov 6, 2020 at 2:40 am

    Collaboration is not enough i think, sooner or later you will need project management, so i would look into tools that offer project management + collaboration, like http://www.centraldesktop.com, or http://www.comindwork.com

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