What is team collaboration? Effective strategies for your team

Business woman collaborating with her team through Glip

No matter how large or small your company, effective team collaboration is an essential part of its success. And that goes double for remote teams, who need to maintain a close connection with colleagues outside of the physical workspace.

The traditional definition of “collaboration” describes the action of working with someone to produce or achieve something—and in business terms, that “something” could be a particular project or the overall goals of the company.

Thanks to the rise of computer technology, collaboration has often come to involve an interaction between corporate culture and technology, using digital team collaboration tools to unite team members from different locations.

Collaboration in the workplace emphasizes teamwork, creative thinking, and equal participation to achieve a common goal such as completing a project on time. Some of the key elements include:

  1. Communication
  2. Transparency
  3. Accountability
  4. Engagement
  5. Compromise
  6. Diversity

RingCentral Glip is a collaboration tool that makes file sharing easy. With tons of cloud storage and many additional features, you can send large files without worrying about storage space or security. But what makes document sharing with Glip so special?

RingCentral Glip’s task management feature for better team collaboration

Benefits of team collaboration

Successful teams tend to have one thing in common: effective collaboration. It leads to increased productivity, with effective teams able to complete tasks faster and smash project deadlines—which all help the business save money.

Further benefits of collaboration include higher employee engagement, as the opportunity to share ideas fosters a sense of community within the company and a desire to play one’s part in the team.

Team members are able to share values and responsibilities, and experience a sense of belonging to a larger whole. Building trust between employees and managers also has a positive impact on the workplace.

Collaborative relationships are also great for breaking down barriers, avoiding a silo mentality, and helping employees learn from each other—for example, getting millennials and older colleagues to pool ideas for a fresh view. You can even collaborate with customers via social media.

Using team collaboration software is an ideal way to bring the team together, since it puts all the tools you need in one handy place. An all-in-one collaboration app such as RingCentral’s Glip incorporates team messaging, video conferencing and file sharing alongside project management tools.

These functions are particularly helpful for communicating and collaborating, as they enable employees to work from anywhere while remaining connected to the entire team.

Video calls reduce the need for business travel, while an instant messaging service makes group chats quick and easy. Other useful features include the ability to share files of all sizes and integrate with other collaborative tools.

Remote workers having a video meeting using Glip by RingCentral

Tips for improving team collaboration

Workplace collaboration doesn’t happen overnight—it takes planning, commitment and continued effort for effective teamwork to become the norm. But there are plenty of collaboration strategies you can use for building relationships and encouraging collaborative behaviors.

Here are some top tips for building a collaborative culture in your business and improving team collaboration.

Communication is key

Team communication is the lynchpin of successful collaboration in the workplace. The need to keep the lines of communication open at all times cannot be overstated, whether you’re a startup business or an enterprise-level organization.

This applies to both internal communication (between managers and employees, and between team members) and external communication (with people outside the organization, such as stakeholders, clients, and contractors).

One way to improve communication is to clearly define the mission of the company or the specific project, so that everyone involved knows exactly what they should be aiming for and what is expected of them. Managers should always provide clear instructions and clarification when necessary.

It’s also important to keep listening to all members of the team, and to look out for anyone who might be struggling—not everyone has the confidence to speak up when there’s an issue. It’s helpful to get to know each individual’s way of working and spot potential problems early.

Communication tools such as RingCentral’s Glip are perfect for staying in touch, with real-time team chat for quick queries and video conferencing for in-depth discussions.

Be transparent

We can see why it’s important to communicate, but businesses should also pay attention to how they communicate. This is where transparency is crucial, so that all team members are given clear goals and kept informed about any developments and changes to the project.

Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined, and each employee should have a solid understanding of the value of collaboration and their own part in making it work.

Advance planning is the best way to keep everyone in the loop and avoid springing surprises on your workforce:

  1. Use a team calendar to set deadlines and schedule team meetings or webinars
  2. Send out agendas and other resources ahead of time
  3. Let everyone know when a brainstorming session is to take place, so that nobody’s put on the spot.
RingCentral Glip’s team calendar feature for scheduling of individual and team events

Ensure accountability

While everyone should be aware of their own responsibilities, it helps to have an understanding of other team members’ roles as well. This way, everyone knows who’s meant to be doing what, and there will be no unnecessary overlap between tasks.

Team members can also support each other by offering help if it’s needed, in the interests of achieving the common goal.

Roles should also be reviewed regularly to ensure that the right tasks are given to the right people. The digital workplace makes this easy—especially with an app like Glip, where project managers can use tools like time tracking to see who’s performing well, and carry out virtual appraisals via video call for employees in any location.

Keep everyone engaged

If you can keep team members engaged with the project, they will be keen to do their best work and collaborate more effectively. It’s helpful to highlight individuals’ strengths, to show everyone that you’ve got the right person in the right role and to make people feel valued.

Collaboration will work better if team members are given equal opportunities to share ideas in a “safe space”, where creativity is encouraged and everyone’s opinion is welcome. Give praise where praise is due—motivated employees are happier and more efficient.

Tips to encourage engagement include:

  1. Team building activities (ice-breaker games with new teams, virtual social events for remote colleagues).
  2. Breakout chat rooms for extra collaboration during video meetings.
  3. Using emojis and GIFs to lighten the mood in team messaging.
  4. Encouraging and responding to feedback.

Be ready to compromise

It goes without saying that in any team, disagreements will arise from time to time. Team members should be prepared to compromise in order to find the best solution, and develop problem-solving skills to avoid conflict.

It helps to have a team whose members are familiar with one another’s personalities, skill sets and ways of working, so that they are less likely to be annoyed by someone taking a different view. Constant communication is the best way of improving team relations and making sure everyone’s differences are respected.

While a collaborative environment favours equality, it’s a good idea to appoint a team leader who can take charge and lead by example. This should be someone with experience of managing teams and fostering collaboration.

Encourage diversity

Ideally, every business or project needs a team with diverse skill sets, backgrounds and perspectives—this will bring a wide variety of ideas and strengths to the table, and improve the overall team performance.

Now that technology makes it possible for teams to be spread across locations and time zones, managers can recruit the best people for the job, no matter where they are based. In a diverse workforce, it’s important to respect the differences between cultures to avoid any unintentional offence.

Product Team using Glip by RingCentral to share files and start video calls for better team collaboration

Invest in the right technology

If you’re going to implement the strategies outlined above, you’ll need the right collaboration tools to help you improve your team. There’s a massive choice of collaboration software products available, each offering a slightly different set of features.

It makes sense to choose an app that incorporates all the functionality you need, rather than using multiple platforms—you’ll save money and also time, since employees won’t have to keep toggling between separate apps.

There are several collaboration apps that offer a free plan, which is tempting for smaller teams who need to stick to a strict budget. But here’s the thing—not all of them give you access to important features unless you upgrade to a paid tier. Make sure you do your research and check exactly what functions come with what version.

Apps like Glip provide an all-in-one collaboration workspace for teams of all sizes, allowing teams to keep all their relevant material in one place. Even better—Glip’s free plan is one of the most comprehensive on the market. It gives you features that are only available in the higher paid tiers of some software.

Global Design Team using RingCentral Glip’s task management feature to mark completed tasks

What to look for in team collaboration software

Although each business and each team will have a different way of working, there are certain major aspects of collaboration that are common to all teams. Look for software that incorporates the most important functions, and integrates smoothly with other apps should you need them.

Here are some of the key features you should look for in a collaboration app:

  1. File sharing
  2. Team chat
  3. Video (and audio calls)
  4. Task management
  5. Integrations

File sharing

Remember when we had to email multiple documents to different team members? It was hard to keep track of the threads, and there was a risk of important messages getting lost.

It’s much better to use a communication tool that lets you share files directly with team members, typically through the team messaging function—that way, they are much less likely to go astray, and you’ll know where to search for them later.

An app that lets you make comments on a document or image without changing the original version is a real bonus for collaborative team projects, as several members may be working on a document simultaneously.

You should also look for software with unlimited file sharing and storage (something that free apps often place limits on) and excellent organizational capabilities.

Website Redesign Team using Glip by RingCentral for file sharing

Team chat

The best collaboration team apps have a built-in messaging system for sharing files and notes as well as conversations.

The more messages you send, the more space you’ll need—so it’s best to choose an app that allows plenty of space for a saved message history. Look out for security features to keep important conversations safe, and extra communication ideas like @mentions, emojis, GIFs, and memes.

Video (and audio) calls

Chat enables teams to collaborate quickly and easily, but sometimes you need to see colleagues face-to-face. Software with integrated video conferencing offers another opportunity for smooth collaboration.

It’s especially helpful if the app includes screen sharing, which is perfect for brainstorming, collectively annotating a document, or running team-building games—all ideas that help teams effectively collaborate.

Remote teams will want to choose software that makes it easy to join a call from anywhere, and works across a range of devices.

Remote team members having a group video call via RingCentral Glip to collaborate on a task

Task management

Task management is a big part of team collaboration, as everyone needs to play their part in meeting the team’s goals.

Task management software helps you streamline workflows, track tasks, and deliver projects on time. If it incorporates other collaboration tools, that’s even better, as it helps the team’s managers maintain an overview of the whole project.

Apps offering built-in task management should enable you to:

  • Create, assign, and manage tasks
  • Set due dates
  • Upload attachments
  • Send and receive messages
  • Automate recurring tasks
Team member using RingCentral Glip to create a new task

Integrations

It’s highly useful to have an app that integrates with the other collaboration tools used by your company, from CRMs to e-marketing platforms. And when you’re working with remote teams and external partners, you need software that’s compatible with a range of operating systems and devices.

RingCentral Glip’s third-party app integrations

You should also look for software with unlimited file sharing and storage (something that free apps often place limits on) and excellent organizational capabilities.

You should also look for software with unlimited file sharing and storage (something that free apps often place limits on) and excellent organizational capabilities.

What’s the best software for effective team collaboration?

If you’re serious about improving your team collaboration skills and putting collaboration at the heart of your company’s culture, you need an app that gives you the best tools for the job, all in one place.

How can a solution like Glip improve your team collaboration, you may ask? Let’s take a look at the sort of tasks your team might get up to, and just exactly what the impact can be.

File storage and sharing

Does your team need tons of storage space? No problem—Glip gives you unlimited storage and sharing of files in any size and format, for free. Upload files within the team chat and share them with guest users like freelancers and clients. There are handy functions for organizing and searching files, and you can annotate docs and images without altering the original.

Coworkers sharing files via Glip by RingCentral

Team chat

Glip’s team messaging feature also comes with unlimited messages and even unlimited message history, so you can always access saved conversations. You can also chat with unlimited users - including guests, so teams can collaborate externally too.

Visual communication includes fun stuff like turning your own images into stickers. There are admin controls for security, and it’s super-easy to go from chat to video in a single click.

Video and audio

With built-in video conferencing for up to 100 people for 24 hours, Glip is the ideal tool for including team meetings in your collaboration strategy. You’ll also get free screen sharing and annotation, and you can record and save meetings—which all have HD sound and vision, by the way.

Launch or join meetings from your browser, and switch between devices with the desktop or mobile app.

Task management

No more squaring up diaries and calendars with each other, or forgetting to write down important dates you were emailed. With Glip, you can turn messages into tasks, check in on the integrated team calendar, and keep an eye on your progress.

There’s a color-coding system and a drag-and-drop function for flawless organization, and automated notifications to remind you when a meeting’s about to start.

Compatibility

When you’re collaborating with remote teams and people outside the organization, you won’t have to worry about Glip’s compatibility—it’s designed to work with iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are hundreds of app integrations, too, and Glip will even bring in important notifications from your other apps and sync with your calendars.

Security

Glip gives peace of mind to your business and your partners with its enterprise-level security. Special features include admin controls for secure chat and conferencing, such as letting the host add password protection and control who joins.

We think you’ll agree that Glip has everything you need for smooth and successful team collaboration - but don’t just take our word for it—contact our sales team to learn more.