The swift pace of technological advancement has prompted huge changes in the way we communicate in our working lives. Phones are no longer devices solely for speaking to other people; in fact, they’re more likely to be used for email, texting or online messaging through apps like Whatsapp. There’s a whole generation of adults joining the workforce that don’t really recall life before the internet, and they are often more comfortable with online interactions instead of talking to someone, either in person or over the phone.

This evolution has also changed modern business operations. With colleagues working remotely and offices scattered around the world, technology is essential for efficient communication. While email serves a purpose, more organisations are looking towards secure collaboration tools for business that offer improvements to productivity and also suit a younger generation’s natural approach to interaction.

Why use collaboration tools like Whatsapp?

As the 21st-century workplace is often disparate, a business needs a central, organised location to store all documentation and communications. You might have developers in San Francisco and marketing in Chicago working for a customer in London, but that doesn’t matter if your processes, schedules and designs are all accessible from one place. That’s where collaboration tools for business come in. These tools are designed to align teams and move away from attempts to coordinate requirements from multiple sources and spending valuable time searching for files to share. This frees up your working hours for the tasks you need to accomplish.

A unified platform for document storage, file sharing, task distribution and real-time discussion streamlines your project workflow and instantly improves communications. You can have an online conversation that includes the exchange of files and images, and the whole thing is archived for future reference. Tools such as Slack and Yammer can also integrate with existing apps and services in your organisation to minimise disruption.

And you can still have meetings, even if you’re not in the same room. Cloud-hosted video conferencing and real-time document sharing can facilitate group meetings to discuss and develop projects.

Things to bear in mind…

As we mentioned above, you need secure collaboration tools for business – with the emphasis on “secure”. A generation of employees who default to social media as their primary form of communication will approach work collaboration in the same way – and if the business tools aren’t there, they may well use their own. A colleague-based WhatsApp group is not an ideal solution if it has no employer monitoring and is potentially used to share confidential information. Ensure that any collaboration tool you choose has encryption options that suit your needs and top-level protection against security threats.

You also need to introduce such tools carefully. Older employees might find it difficult to adapt to a new way of working, while younger workers must learn that sharing everything on personal social media doesn’t correlate with how you manage intellectual property in the workplace. Furthermore, emphasise to employees that collaborative tools don’t mean they have to be available around the clock. Improved productivity is great; burnout is not.

Digital innovations are changing business practices all the time. Get the right collaboration tools and the right balance for your virtual teams and you’ll create a flexible approach that benefits both your employees and your company.