As a digital strategy and marketing agency, we are often expected to be on the cutting edge of all things digital, especially when it comes to the latest and greatest shiny objects. As the agency owner, I often struggle with the timing of trying out new tools to hopefully further improve efficiency and team communication.
When we’re already so busy, testing out new digital tools seems like a likely waste of our valuable time. However, implementing the right digital tools can actually save us time, as well as offer other benefits that can drastically improve employee work culture and improve team communication. I listed some of these benefits below, along with examples of digital tools worth trying out that we’ve found work really well for our team:
If your team is constantly emailing back and forth all day and shouting across the room, adopt a digital communication tool to make team communicating simple. Although there are several fancy digital communication tools available for businesses, you need a digital tool that’s easy to access and use if you want it to really stick. There is nothing better than K.I.S.S. (keeping it simple stupid) when it comes to tools.
For example, my team and I use Google IM to communicate, which is completely hassle-free. As soon as we log into our business Gmail account to check our email in the morning, we instantly become available for chat. We also use Voxer, a "walkie-talkie app," when we want to ask things quickly and avoid typing them out. Another useful digital communication tools is Slack, which is a website and an app that lets you message coworkers, send files, and keep internal and external business communication separate.
By providing your team with a tool that keeps everyone organized and on the same page, even coworkers who tend to be all over the place won’t bring the team down. Digital project management tools like Basecamp, Jira, and Asana allow your team to create and delegate tasks for one another. These days, many teams (including mine) claim that they couldn’t live without one of these programs. They allow you to easily review and manage your list of to-do’s from anywhere you log in, and every time someone asks you to do something, you can easily create a ticket for it so you don’t forget about it! The devil is definitely in the details, and when those small tasks fall through the cracks because an organization system is not in place, it can cause significant frustration for team members, partners and unfortunately sometimes clients.
Manage Your Time Effectively
Fortunately, digital project management tools also let you attach an estimated time of completion for each to-do item, which helps team members know how much time to set aside for the tasks. They log their time as they make progress and close the task once it’s completed. This allows employees and supervisors to track each other’s progress, which is really valuable when team members are working closely together.
Also, by making your employees aware of their workload, they can plan out their week and schedule meetings accordingly. Digital time tracking tools also reveal to you and your team how much time they are spending on each project or client. To properly price your services and understand resource needs, you need the historical knowledge of how much time each service or product takes to produce. Our agency also uses a service called ClickTime for time tracking purposes. It’s simple to use and gives us the reporting we need with no fancy bells and whistles.
Since digital tools help your team members communicate easily, manage their time effectively, and stay organized, their productivity will ultimately skyrocket! With these tools, your team will spend less time organizing and planning their tasks and will spend more time actually completing them. This will cause employees to be less stressed and more accomplished, which will make the team more positive and productive overall. If you don’t want to use a combination of tools to get these results, most digital project management tools can offer all of these benefits in one.
My team and I love that we can just log into our Jira account to get access to everything we need, and then get to work! On a daily basis, our team meets to review the weekly project and client goals to determine if all projects are on track. When certain projects take longer than originally planned, team members can step up and offer support to balance out the weekly responsibilities. This helps build a positive team environment.
Encourage Feedback & Growth
If your business or start-up is looking to grow, or if you want to improve the company culture, some digital tools can provide you with information that will help you understand the gaps and opportunities you have. For example, I use TinyPulse to ask my team questions like, “How happy are you at work?” and “Do you think our team meetings are effective?”
Their anonymous responses help me to honestly evaluate how my team is doing and learn what I can do better. Sometimes the feedback can sting a bit but I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to gain constructive feedback and work to improve our organization. This tool is one of the reasons we've been able to build a solid culture at StringCan which has been validated by earning Best Places to Work award in Phoenix two years in a row. Also, my team loves that TinyPulse lets them give “cheers” to employees so they can acknowledge a job well done. This simple feature allows them to feel noticed and appreciated, which increases positivity in the work environment.
If improving your employee’s work culture is a last priority because your team is too busy with other things, you’ve got it all wrong. By taking advantage of digital tools as soon as possible, your team will be increasingly more productive, responsive, and positive!
We would love to hear what tools your company is using to improve team communication, environment and/or productivity. Feel free to comment with suggestions and any other tools or processes you have found to be effective.
Image by Pixabay