How Leveraging the Right Technology Can Boost Your Team’s Collaboration

Make your team more successful with the latest user-friendly apps.

It’s no secret: teamwork is critical to a company’s bottom line. When employees collaborate effectively, the benefits are multifold: more innovation, boosted employee engagement, and increased employee retention.

The onset of Covid led to an upswing in remote work, and even after Covid subsided, working from home was more widespread than ever. The Pew Research Center reported last February that “roughly six-in-ten U.S. workers who say their jobs can mainly be done from home (59%) are working from home all or most of the time.” Needless to say, working from home is a significant challenge for effective teamwork. And as Andrea Fuder, executive vice-president and chief purchasing officer for Volvo Group, writes, “many businesses have seen employees leave due to any number of poor decisions [including] a lack of investment in technologies to allow for productive remote working.”

The good news is, apps like Jotform Teams, the latest addition to our roster of tools, provide a user-friendly means for getting your team on the same page and making collaboration more successful, whether employees are back in the office or working from home. As the founder and CEO of a company with employees across the globe, I understand firsthand both the challenges and benefits of teamwork. By leveraging certain simple tools, our company didn’t just survive but continued to grow during a pandemic. Here, a closer look at how the right technology can enhance your team’s ability to collaborate.

1. Creating a clear road map

Author Adam Bryant interviewed over 500 leaders in order to understand how to build successful teams. One of his main takeaways was the importance of creating a clear road map. As Bryant writes, “Leaders owe their teams an answer to the same question that young children often ask their parents before setting out on a long drive: ‘Where are we going and how are we going to get there?’ In other words, what is the goal and how are we going to measure progress along the way?”

Too often, workers get siloed in their departments and become laser-focused on their own daily missions. Especially when employees lack a shared physical workspace, it’s important to iterate and reiterate a team’s shared goals and how they will be accomplished.

Jotform Teams gives employees a shared virtual workspace — there, team members can access and edit all types of materials, from forms and tables to reports and apps. Importantly, assets in the shared workspace are available to the entire team — everyone can rest assured that the assets they’re viewing or editing are the most up-to-date. So not only are employees working with the broader goal in mind, but they can also see how they’re collectively progressing toward that goal.

Managers might create the road map but with a collaboration tool, the project “drivers” can track the journey.

2. Cultivating a shared mindset

According to Harvard Business Review, a shared mindset is one of the cornerstones of effective teamwork. In light of factors like physical distance, employees can fall victim to an “us versus them” mentality. As authors Martine Haas and Mark Mortensen explain, we are “inclined to view our own subgroup — whether it’s our function, our unit, our region, or our culture — more positively than others, and that habit often creates tension and hinders collaboration.”

So, how can you overcome the “us versus them” pitfall? The authors have a couple of smart suggestions. First, carve out time for unstructured, teamwide discussion, when team members can talk about anything, be it work, daily life, family, or personal events. They write, “This helps people develop a more complete picture of distant colleagues, their work, and their environment.”

Second, make sure that each group feels valued for their contributions toward the larger goal. While the onus lies on managers to recognize milestones and achievements, a tool like Jotform Teams can facilitate this process by giving everyone access to the same scoreboard. Everyone can see how everyone else is advancing (a motivator if there ever was one), and groups can get into the habit of rooting for each other as well.

3. Defining clear roles

Back before I started my own company, I remember one manager — let’s call her Irene — who was a fervent believer in hiring great people and getting out of their way. She was the archetype hands-off manager. And while her style certainly felt like a vote of confidence, it also led to a lot of confusion and frustration during big team projects — not knowing who was responsible for what, some team members would drop the ball and others would pick up (too much of) the slack.

As Adam Bryant writes, “Leaders have to play a far more hands-on role to make sure the group works well together and remains focused on the right priorities.”

First and foremost, everyone’s roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined, both generally speaking and on individual projects.

One of the perks of using a tool like Jotform Teams to manage teamwork is that it forces managers to be mindful of roles each time a new project starts. From the outset, users can assign different roles to their team members (team admin, data collaborator, data viewer, and creator) and control what each user can see or do in the team. This eliminates any ambiguity over roles and responsibilities — managers delegate tasks and team members understand their assignments, from start to finish.

It goes without saying, the onus remains with managers to hold employees accountable for their contributions.

4. Ensuring seamless organization

One of my favorite parts of leading a company like Jotform, where we’re continuously releasing new products to make our users’ lives easier, is the momentum during each launch. In the weeks leading up to the release of a new product, my employees cultivate a particular synergy that’s just exciting to be part of. At the same time, we’re under a lot of pressure to work efficiently. We don’t have time to waste, especially when it’s entirely avoidable.

When collaborating, there’s no bigger time drain than working on different tools — creating documents in Google and receiving a markup in Word. Sending a message and Slack and receiving a reply in Outlook.

Teams that work with a single collaboration platform, like Jotform Teams, don’t have to worry about getting snagged by incompatible tools. With shared workspaces, team members are creating, updating, and sharing the same kinds of assets (forms, tables, reports, apps, and coming soon, approvals and signature documents) and functioning (figuratively) on the same page.

High-performing teams (and their managers) understand that leveraging collaboration tools will maximize their chance of success — and every advantage, big or small, counts.

AUTHOR
Aytekin Tank is the Founder and CEO of Jotform. A developer by trade but a storyteller by heart, he writes about his journey as an entrepreneur and shares advice for other startups. He loves to hear from Jotform users. You can reach Aytekin from AytekinTank@Jotform.com

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