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Social Collaboration and the Asynchronous Workplace


Tue Mar 20 2012


(From ITWorld.com) -- Whether your company is a small shop of just a few intensely hard-working pros or a large venture with hundreds of workers, good communication is critical to your success. And by "good communication," I mean communication that works. With the right collaboration tools and a little operational discipline, you can overcome any communications challenge and get your teams in sync.



When I started my career back in the olden days of the 20th Century, the workplace was largely synchronous. For the most part, everyone showed up at more or less the same time, worked in the same office together, went to the same meetings, ate lunch at 12:30, and gathered around the same water cooler when they felt like taking a break. Communication wasn't always of the highest quality, but there was plenty of it and if you missed something, somebody was always right there to fill you in.


By contrast, today's workplace (mine and, probably, yours too) is fairly asynchronous. Many of us work remotely or from the road a good deal of the time. Everyone's juggling multiple complex projects, making it difficult to sync up schedules enough for live, real-time meetings. And when we do manage to line up a meeting, many of us have no choice but to attend by phone, introducing additional communications challenges that can reduce the clarity of the message. (I take a hefty portion of my meetings by phone, and far too many of them while driving a car, walking through an airport, or in an otherwise distracted state.) In this asynchronous workplace, where it's increasingly difficult to get all of our key players focused on the same task at the same time, social collaboration tools are essential to good communication.

"Social collaboration" can mean a lot of things, of course. In my organization, we're social omnivores and use an array of great tools, from Google Apps to Yammer to Basecamp, among others. What I'm talking about here are tools like Salesforce, Basecamp, and Socialtext, which give teams the ability to capture and share progress around critical projects without the time-sucking burden of clearing schedules for a synchronous meeting.

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