Implement a cloud-based project management tool."Using a centralized online workspace to track everything from deadlines and deliverables to budgets is the most efficient way to keep team members in the loop," says Brent Frei, executive chairman and cofounder, Smartsheet, an online project management solution. Just "make sure the tool has a mobile app so it's accessible anywhere -- from desktops, tablets or [smartphones]. This allows on-the-move employees to stay up to date on project details."
" Basecamp [a popular project management app] makes long-distance collaboration (and note-sharing) easy," says Fittr's Schirr. "It's five dollars per month per user right now, and that has been worth it, even for our boot-strapping company. If you cannot afford that, use Google Docs. It's a surprisingly capable program."
Deploy a group chat solution (as opposed to individual instant messaging). "A few years ago we started using Campfire for almost all of our instant message communication," says Avin Kline, cofounder & CEO, Web Success Agency, a web design and marketing firm. "Campfire allows you to setup 'rooms,' which we use for different departments. We also have a 'Water Cooler' room where we talk about anything from weekend plans to what we're listening to right now. We all feel connected."
Integrate mobile phones into your phone system."The ability to use any phone and have it function exactly like the one in your office is crucial," says Brian Crotty, COO, Broadview Networks, the provider of a VoIP business phone system.
"Your mobile phone system should be the same as your normal phone system -- with the same phone number and seamless access to important contact information," Crotty says. "Mobile twinning allows you to have calls seamlessly routed to employees' mobile phones, and mobile softphone apps give team members the ability to make calls from their iOS or Android device as if they were in an office, using the same business phone number and calling features."
Train your people on your mobile collaboration tools and mobile best practices. "Not everyone is well-versed in effective mobile collaboration," says Aliza Sherman, digital marketing strategist, Mediaegg. So before officially rolling out any mobile collaboration tools, "set up step-by-step processes, establish guidelines and provide proper training so that everyone on your team understands how to communicate through digital and mobile tools," she says. Also, understand "that not everyone is up to the challenge of virtual communications."
Similarly, go over mobile device best practices. "Working off mobile devices creates concerns of battery life, connectivity and information security," says Michael DeFranco, founder & CEO, Lua, a mobile workforce communication app. "Having employees understand the best way to mitigate these concerns greatly increases their productivity," he says. "Ways to optimize battery performance include turning off location services, [using Wi-Fi whenever possible] and reducing display brightness."
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