With distributed and hybrid work, employees increasingly collaborate across time zones. Few businesses today can function smoothly with just an email address and a phone; all but the smallest companies will need more communication tools. Various software companies have answered the need with an array of communication and collaboration programs. Other companies have developed IP-based, unified communication systems using VoIP phones, cloud computing, and the fast, high-quality communication available through the Web. Having a single telecommunication system rather than a set of tools can be useful in a time when working together on programs and projects has changed.

The Challenge of Coordinating and Collaborating

Most businesses that work with clients, remote staff, and freelancers outside the immediate area use some combination of phone, email, and other Web-based tools to chat, share documents, and so on. Acollection of technology gets the job done, but regular telephone service has real limits in what it can do, even if you pay extra for premium features like call bridging and conference calling. Yet, efficient collaboration is important despite hybrid work and remote work. Outsourcing and the use of independent contractors makes communicating and coordinating work just a bit more challenging.

Managing a combination of chat software, phones, messaging, and video conferencing along with other collaboration tools, can be needlessly time-consuming and more expensive than it needs to be.

7 Collaboration and Coordination Options

Conventional business phones that use landlines limit users to setting up audio conferences. In terms of fostering collaboration and enhancing productivity, standard desk phones offer limited utility. VoIP phones offer more options, especially when paired with the right add-ons, like Salesforce integration.

1. Setting Up Virtual Meetings

A series of phone calls and email messages between contributors to a project can get the job done but getting together virtually with a few colleagues to hash out those same issues will save time.

2. Chatting and Instant Messaging

This is often faster than emailing and playing phone tag. If someone is available right then, they can respond or give an ETA for delivering something or responding with an answer to a complicated question.

3. Share and Discuss Documents

With the right system, you can discuss a document while talking and typing. This makes it easier to discuss a draft report, review graphics together, or discuss a spreadsheet filled with marketing data. This is much easier than sharing documents via email or even via Google Drive. If efficient communication is important, chat and review the document together while making decisions or editing.

4. Collaborate on Sales Initiatives

All businesses and nonprofits need steady revenue to stay open and collect the resources they need to grow. In the business world, this means multiple employees need to be involved in promoting the business, prospecting for fresh leads, nurturing relationships with long-term clients, and so on. Planning, review, and evaluation are all important here and these activities are easier to do with fast and easy instant messaging, conference calling, and group chats. A unified telecommunications service offers cloud-based tools and data storage that supports team meetings, client meetings, and online training.

5. Run Online Training

You can run a quick and simple group training session via Web chat and video. This can be a much more time-efficient way to describe how a proposal should be improved, or how to use some new language guidelines for your marketing materials.

6. Have Impromptu Conferences

Scheduling a meeting is a great idea for getting people together and focused on a certain topic. Most of the time that is true but having a spur-of-the-moment call with a couple of colleagues or team members can save time and trouble for all parties. An IP telephone system will offer the capability to set up audio conferences or even group video chats.

7. Share Notes and Ideas

Almost any chat or IM service will offer you the ability to attach files and link to shared documents or folders. You can then open the file and discuss changes to a report or review marketing metrics from Salesforce or another CRM. This can streamline your marketing operation in many small ways over time, versus having to set up meetings and ask attendees to both be there and be ready to discuss the documents in question. Meetings almost invariably include people who have little or nothing to contribute to the specific meeting.

These collaboration ideas make a company more efficient, contribute to better customer service, and save some money on long-distance or international calling. The examples above focused on internal business processes but these tips can also streamline communication with business partners and customers.

Adopt a VoIP System to Improve Collaboration and Communication

A good VoIP phone offers many possibilities to collaborate across time zones and geographic locations. Using one set of technologies from one vendor to carry out most of those activities can be easier and cheaper than managing phones, email systems, chat software, online meeting spaces, and file-sharing apps. If you would like to talk about using IP telephony and desktop VoIP phones in your business, contact us to set up a free consultation.