Office technologies to build your team

This post is part of our series on offices of the future, sponsored by Frontier Business. Frontier Business is offering Ochen readers a free ebook with solutions for your multi site business

3 ways teams can work better with technology

Technology can be a easy scapegoat for ineffective teams.

Who hasn't see an online meme suggesting that people in a meetings are unengaged, looking down at screens rather than participating fully?

It's true. A room full of people who are so bored that they need a connection to the outside world to survive is a red flag for an any team.

An extraordinary team knows better. Truly engaged people will look for ways to extend the productivity of a team, reaching out to resources that aren't physically present, and using very way possible to help the team meet it's goals in real time.

There are many ways that social media, real time connections and computer software can accelerate outcomes for a team. Here are a few that stand out for any business and any industry building an extraordinary team.

Teams are built on individual relationships

We've worked with teams that were regularly working side by side for decades but more often than not, all or part of a team today isn't sitting in the sam bullpin. Without online resources and tools like social media, meeting can easily become filled with the chitchat and "catching up" instead of productive moves forward.

Does your company have rules about the use of personal internet in the workplace? These were common 10 years ago. I'm surprised to see so many today as we've debunked the myth that good employees will become useless if they are not policed.

Studies by Tech anthropologist Stefana Broadbent showed that people communicating with each other through social media had and increase in feelings of itimacy. This applies to family and friends, but important here is the connecitno between intamacy and productivity in the workplace.

The bonding that happens when people share photos, jokes or other water cooler talk leads us to care more about the individuals on our team and creates an inate understanding of what is good for our team memebers is good for the group and the group's objectives.

Once we trust each other enough to share, we also learn to trust members of the team to perform. This lead to reciprocal trust and the feeling that we can't let the team down.

Ultimately, social media is the fastest way to handle this very human experience. The cost of a few moments shared online is less than the productivity loss of water cooler conversations and much easier than setting up a bowling league. The added output from a bestter bonded team gives and exponentional ROI to the time required.

Speeding up Communications between team members (and less meetings)

I recently attended a converence where the chairpeson had a fixed agenda he needed to get through. He had sent out copies to all attendeees in advance, but only a few minute prior to the start of the meeting.

He began the meeting with an explanation that one of the board members would be a few minutes late, and then asked if anyone knew where the other missing member was.

About 10 minutes in, the 1st latecomer arrived. The chairman started over, explaining in details what he'd gone through in the past 10 minutes. He was still going when the, the last person arrived, so he repeated it again, which prompted a conversation about how much time had been wasted. There was little time to get to the rest of the agenda.

But here's the thing...

The false starts, reading through each item, and getting consensus would have been unnecessary if the plan had arrived the day before. People would have had the chance to prep, we wouldn't have had to start over, and we may have decided that everything was approved and been done in that first 10 minutes. The people who show up late could have been dealt with offline, saving time and embarrassment.

When you do have a meeting, consider a modern conference call solution. I recommend for meetings with a handful of people. Easy to set up and ad hoc or scheduled meeting. Anyone can participate via voice or video.. on their phone, laptop of desktop from anywhere without any special software.

Instead of putting up with the limits of your existing conference call or meeting software, look at the new offerings. If you haven't updated in the past year, you are likely not getting the best connections.

Stay Connected

Today's teams don't have to sit in the same room to be productive. With Anyware VOIP in the Cloud from Frontier Business, you can treat any phone like it's wired to the team. 

Anyware is a cost effective way to get your phone system ready for a fast growing future. Good for any team with a lot of meetings.

Tracking of committments

Much of the technology used by winning teams today did not exist a few years back. We have tried dozens. My favorite right now is for a board with cards all the projects currently happening. Anyone on the team can complete an assignment, drag a card to another stack and let us all know statuses before the status meeting, no matter where the team members are... mobile, desktop or laptops.

An even quicker tool is It handles the conversation threads that used to be long email threads and allows our teams to segment topics and members to opt in or out to notifications they need.

Tools like these will eliminate the need for a lot of meetings and automatically let everyone start with a foundation that makes meeting move quicker and create more productive conversations.

There are times when we need to turn off our devices, engage fully in the conversation going on in front of us. Today, that's not 100% of the workday. An extraordinary team knows that difference and uses as much technology as needed to get the job done.

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