Businesses are constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance productivity and inject some flexibility to improve employees’ quality of life.
Online collaboration tools are one way to achieve this.
They allow people in different physical locations and even time zones to communicate with each other in real time. The benefits for small business owners include being able to work off-site (and giving employees opportunities to do the same), ensuring they are always ‘plugged in’ and in control. Small business owners can lower their overheads or access more diverse skills by hiring independent contractors instead of permanent employees, who do not necessarily have to be in the same city. Some of the more popular online collaboration tools are profiled below.
Yammer (Yammer.com) This allows businesses to create their own free private social networks. Employees can connect with each other or with external stakeholders such as customers and business partners.
Chatter (Chatter.com) Chatter allows businesses to create their own free private social networks. Employees can talk to each other by posting messages and share large files. All communication is private and secure, with access restricted to people who work together at the same company.
GoToMeeting (GoToMeeting.com) This allows users to host an online meeting (including video conferencing) with up to 15 people. Meeting invitations can be sent by e-mail, instant message or telephone, and attendants can alternate between their computer screens to present information.
Google Apps for Business (Google Apps For Business.com) Features include web-based e-mail, calendar and document storage and editing for teams. Offerings can be customised depending on the size of the business.
Skype (Skype.com) is another option for small business owners. An important feature for small business owners to look out for when using these kinds of tools is compatibility with different types of devices (e.g. tablet computers, mobile phones, laptops, netbooks) and operating systems to ensure full functionality at all times. Small business owners should also ensure they have affordable, value-for-money broadband or data contracts to enable them to make full use of online collaboration tools. These should ideally be based on an understanding of the business’ full information technology needs.
Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi