What is collaboration software?

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Teamwork and communication are the backbone of successful companies. But the ability for people to work well together requires easy, effective ways to connect. Collaboration software has become an increasingly important tool in this respect.

What is collaboration software?

Collaboration software allows for multiple users to work together on projects from any location or device at any time. While the concept of collaboration software is not new, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated our need for such workplace tools, especially when it comes to virtual collaboration.

But even after the pandemic is behind us, the need for seamless, powerful ways to collaborate virtually is expected to remain high. That’s because the rise of hybrid and permanent remote working arrangements mean more people will be working virtually—and they’ll require collaboration software that makes all aspects of work as easy and seamless as when everyone was based in the office and working together face to face.

In order to have effective collaboration in the workplace in 2022, your team is going to need software that meets the needs of all of your employees.

 


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What can collaboration software do?

To understand the importance of collaboration software in today’s workplaces, it’s first important to understand what collaboration software is and what it can do.

There are plenty of activities involved in collaborating and lots of forms of collaboration. Great collaboration software brings all of these capabilities into an all-in-one solution. While there are many different types of collaboration platforms on the market, the most powerful tools virtually replicate all the various ways people work together: face-to-face and voice chats, text-based messaging, and collaborating over shared documents and files.

The best online collaboration tools provide teams with the ability to perform all of these collaborative functions via message, call, and video conference virtually, and they allow them to do so from any device or location.

Collaboration tool essentials

If you are looking for a collaboration tool, here are some essentials to look out for.

1. The ability to participate in video and audio conferencing

For effective teams, communication is second nature. But there’s no one best way to communicate—the most effective medium often depends on the task or goal at hand. To help people engage in conversations and work together virtually, collaboration software should include secure, built-in video and audio conferencing capabilities—and make it easy to switch from one medium to another as the task or conversation requires. These capabilities are essential to having collaboration in the workplace in 2022. 

2. Chat and chat rooms, with a way to keep conversations organized

Providing channels where employees can chat is a great way to keep collaboration happening even after the meeting is over. Whether it is one-on-one or in a group chat room, collaboration software with chat features is the cherry on top for your virtual collaboration needs. A lot of work and information sharing takes place over chat-based conversations, but the volume of messages can quickly become unwieldy. Great collaboration software offers easy, intuitive ways to organize conversations and keep important information at hand (or easily findable), such as the ability to pin and forward messages.

3. Screensharing and presentation tools

Screensharing and presentations allow for the visual aspect to happen in collaboration. Getting on the same page sometimes means literally having the same materials in front of you. And while the ability to see meeting participants is key, so is the ability to look at shared materials in real-time. Oftentimes, ideas are more effective when they can be illustrated, whether it’s through slides in a status report or via a live white board. Using a tool that has these capabilities—the ability to share screens and presentations—is critical for remote collaboration and especially important in helping those with a more visual collaboration style.

4. Mobile, cloud-based access

Remote and hybrid work means more employees are working from anywhere. But to be able to do their jobs, they need access to all their tools and information no matter where they are working. A cloud-based solution with a robust mobile version enables access from anywhere and any device.

5. Integration capabilities

The way that we work is always changing. And from document sharing to calendars to vertical- and job-specific tools, employees use countless business apps throughout the day. The better collaboration software will integrate with these other solutions to add more functionality to their service suite, making it more effective for people to share information and work together. Be sure to choose a collaboration software that has integrations for maximum benefits.

6. Project management

Having a centralized place to assign projects and tasks is incredibly beneficial in this remote world, and collaboration is nothing without follow up and accountability. By layering in project management functions, such as the ability to assign and track tasks, collaboration software becomes more than just a conduit to communication—it plays a central role in how work gets done. In order for employees to want to collaborate and use these tools, great leaders will commit to tasking out projects within a collaboration tool. The more leadership collaborates, the more likely their employees are soon to follow.

7. Powerful administrative functions

The need to provision and manage collaboration software for a remote workforce can be a big burden for IT. But the job of managing these tools is simplified if the collaboration solution offers centralized functions that allow admins to set up new users, troubleshoot, view performance analytics, and more via a remote portal.

8. Security

With more important conversations happening over collaboration software, confidence in the security of such solutions is paramount. From granular access controls to state-of-the-art video meeting security features such as end-to-end encryption, it’s a good idea to take a close look at how information is protected.

A young woman is sitting outside and having a video call

The benefits of collaboration software

With many workers doing their jobs remotely and collaboration platforms becoming increasingly powerful and accessible, the benefits of collaboration software are growing.

Here are some key ways collaboration software can improve your business:

  1. Promotes communication and collaboration: Just as the name implies, collaboration software provides employees with a virtual platform for working together. Effective communication in the workplace is crucial, and by offering simple ways to connect over a variety of media, collaboration software breaks down barriers and makes working together second nature.
  1. Work from anywhere: Hybrid and remote work is growing in popularity—but these models are only as effective as workers’ ability to maintain teamwork. Collaboration software enables flexible teamwork and communication when colleagues work from different places.
  1. Improves productivity: Whether it’s speeding up the amount of time it takes for a colleague to answer a question or streamlining workflows with integrations, a robust collaboration solution can reduce the number of business apps people need to use and shrink the number of steps involved in getting work done. This, in turn, can fuel productivity.
  1. Reduces information silos: Using a variety of different business apps and working from disparate locations creates the potential for informational gaps and blind spots to develop between teammates or across business lines. A system that meets everyone’s needs makes it easier to communicate and share information and provides needed visibility to counter the risk of silos.
  1. Fosters a sense of team connection: Working remotely can be an isolating experience, and reduce trust and camaraderie—two important traits for strong teams. An easy-to-use solution with many collaboration features like RingCentral encourages more connection and communication between teammates, helping to promote stronger teams.

Support your team with collaboration software

Learn more about how to support your remote teammates with RingCentral’s Remote Work Playbook, or check out RingCentral’s collaboration software and tools for helping with communication within a hybrid remote work environment.

Originally published Mar 28, 2022, updated Mar 29, 2022

Collaborate from anywhere with messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls—all in a single platform.

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