Today’s workplace is increasingly defined by hybrid environments that allow organizations to draw upon talent far beyond their local market. Employees are often incorporated into distributed teams that include members from many different physical locations. In many cases, these teams even cross state and national boundaries to create a truly diverse collection of talent dedicated to a common goal.
Distributed teams are made possible by innovations in technology that allow their members to share resources and collaborate without having to be in the same physical location. While there are many collaboration tools available, matching the right software to the group’s needs can mean the difference between long-term productivity and disruptive frustration.
Unique challenges of distributed teams
Whether a distributed team is part of a hybrid workforce or completely virtual, they face several unique challenges compared to in-person teams when it comes to working collaboratively. Communication, for instance, needs to be much more thorough and deliberate. Instructions and expectations cannot be left vague because it might not be possible to get more detail quickly, especially if team members are separated by time zones. While hybrid and virtual teams often have many communications channels available (such as email, messaging applications, or task management software), everyone may not use them the same way, making it easy to miss important details.
As a result of communication challenges, many remote employees end up working in isolation rather than spending collaborating with fellow team members. While this may seem like a good solution from an individual standpoint, it prevents teams from reaching their full potential because a lot of work ends up being done (or redone) more than once. Even if redundancies are kept to a minimum, the final deliverable often ends up feeling like something that was cobbled together from several disparate sources rather than standing as a singular, coherent project.
Four common productivity challenges with collaboration tools
Although distributed teams allow organizations to leverage talent from around the world, bringing those people together in a productive virtual environment can be difficult without the right software tools in place. These tools should help teams overcome the common problems associated with hybrid and remote work. Unfortunately, organizations sometimes try to get by with using applications for tasks and processes they’re not really designed to handle. This ends up leading to wasted time and frustration as employees continually try to force a square peg into a round hole.
Here are four challenges that are often made worse by having the wrong collaboration tools in place:
Productivity and efficiency are heavily dependent upon employees knowing what to do and how to access the resources they need to carry out their responsibilities. When software tools make it difficult to locate those resources, people end up spending valuable time searching for what they need rather than doing productive work. Anyone who has spent hours (or even longer) sifting through various Google Drive or Sharepoint folders in search of a digital asset they need knows just how much of an impact confusion can have on efficient collaboration.
2. Workflow disruption
Good collaboration tools make it easy for employees to manage tasks within a single workflow, which reduces the amount of time spent shifting resources between applications. As more people become involved in a task, preserving a streamlined workflow becomes even more important. When team members have to constantly move assets between applications and pull them from various storage locations, there’s a greater chance of something going wrong, whether it’s a file being misplaced or a key task being overlooked and uncompleted. In addition to creating more confusion, workflow disruption also makes it difficult to maintain a single source of truth for assets.
3. Version control
One of the greatest challenges with collaboration has always been version control. When multiple people are working on a single project, it’s vital that everyone knows which version of an asset is the most up to date. While cloud applications have made this somewhat easier by mostly eliminating local file storage, they can actually make the problem worse if it’s hard to manage or work with assets within the platform. This encourages people to create their own workarounds and processes, such as making copies of files and sharing them over separate different platforms.
In addition to undermining productivity, poor collaboration tools also create a host of security risks. When software tools make it difficult to complete routine tasks, most people respond by developing their own system of doing things. Unfortunately, removing assets and work processes from an application exposes them to an open and potentially compromised environment. If someone were to download a copy of an asset to a device that’s been infected with malware, that file could easily serve as a vector for a costly security breach the moment it’s uploaded again or sent to another team member.
Strengthening productivity with DAM software
Distributed teams that work heavily with digital media assets, such as high-resolution images, audio files, and video, can avoid these productivity challenges by implementing a digital asset management (DAM) solution that’s designed for their specific workflow and collaboration needs. Unlike most asset management systems, DAM software was created with visual assets in mind so that collaborative teams can locate and access the resources they need quickly and seamlessly integrate them into a workflow.
With Canto’s DAM solution, for example, organizations can set up dedicated portals for sharing assets among distributed teams and various stakeholders. Powerful organization features make it easy to search for content, while extensive integrations eliminate the cumbersome process of transferring files from one application to another. Since assets remain stored in the Canto platform, it’s much easier to maintain strict version controls and keep sensitive data secure.
To learn more about how Canto’s innovative DAM solution can help your distributed teams enhance their productivity and spend more time creating innovative content that builds your brand, sign up today for a free trial.