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As a small business owner with a growing team, it’s not always easy to find the perfect office space at the right price in the best location. Luckily, with improved technology, working remotely is possible and, in fact, a growing workplace trend.

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Employees cite working remotely from their homes or their local (WiFi-connected) coffee shops as a top reason for their improved productivity and enhanced sense of well-being. Yet, a disparate workforce in different settings and even time zones, makes team collaboration tricky. Back and forth emailing no longer suffices in keeping up to date with the inner workings of the company. Luckily team collaboration no longer has to be a struggle and cloud-based technology is becoming more intuitive and easier to use. Here are four tips to improve team collaboration when working remotely.

 

Maintain one, updated version of a document

 

When a few people are working on a document like a progress report or a piece of marketing content, the latest changes and suggestions can so easily be lost with the plethora of emails being sent by everybody. “Attached, find the latest version,” is not an indication that other changes have been incorporated, nor that everyone has agreed on previous changes. But, with Office 365’s SharePoint, businesses can maintain the latest versions of work. SharePoint allows users to collaborate on files, documents and ideas, owing to the application hosting a full range of document libraries, task lists, calendars, and workflows.  It’s communication heaven.

A Microsoft case study on Booz Allen Hamilton – a top global consulting firm whose employees connect on a SharePoint site, notes that “employees have the ability to be more engaged with their work, thanks to the unprecedented access to the firm’s knowledge stores. It’s easier than ever for staff to track down information and share ideas, driving dialogue that leads to innovation.”

What’s so great about SharePoint is its accessibility on any device, including mobiles. This is appealing to employees, especially younger ones, who can access information and enter dialogue on their phones while on the run.

 

Hold effective online meetings

 

With the emergence of online meeting spaces, face-to-face meetings are not always necessary. The upside is that employees save time and petrol on commuting, but the downside is that slow internet speed and outdated technologies hamper the effectiveness of online meetings. There’s nothing more frustrating than dropped calls and bad signal hampering the crucial need to connect with co-workers.  Introducing Office 365’s Skype for Business, where up to 250 people can “meet.” In addition, documents can be shared and discussed across applications.

 

Ensure 360-degree project management

 

Teams have far more tools available to build well-connected teams and to keep projects on schedule. Tools like Microsoft Project can help manage the progress of even the most complex projects. For simpler projects and everyday teamwork, easy-to-use tools like Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online can help make sure everyone has visibility into project status and customer requirements.

Office 365, with Ignite, especially improves team collaboration for employees working remotely. Choose Ignite to manage your migration for easier team collaboration. There’s 24- hour support and no hidden contractual obligations.

Ignite is a partner to small business owners. Download our tips on running a small business here.

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