Skip to main content
Intro to AI Webinar

Many people are working from home these days, and with that came substantial changes. One being: Communicating from afar with colleagues you formerly saw in person. For many, there’s currently no water-cooler talk or meeting room chatter. Or, if there is, it looks a lot different than it did in 2019, as you may be doing it over video chat and while in your pajamas. 

The pandemic accelerated the need for many companies to have good collaboration software, like Microsoft Teams, Slack and WebEx. This type of software has been a critical component of managing workers during the pandemic, and it will likely continue post-pandemic, too. 

Collaboration software provides ease of communication among colleagues and across various mediums, including messaging, phone calls and video. In a recent survey by Slack, nearly 80% of users say their collaboration software platform is very important — and yet 37% of users report frustrations at not being included in conversations about selecting the software. 

When picking collaboration software, there are a few ways to increase ease in the process, confidence in the decision made and include your colleagues in a collaborative manner. 

Demo your collaboration software options

One could argue that picking out the perfect collaboration software is a bit like dating: You want to find the right fit. When looking for something that meets the needs of a variety of colleagues, you should take various factors into account. Demo-ing software options among a range of staffers is a good way to get a global look at the different collaboration software options.

Your organization should consider having a “user pilot” team, which might be cross-organizational or the members of a single department, to test new software and report any potential issues. Though this team will likely be comprised of “early adopters,” it’s important that everyone remember any new software is easily understood by many. 

As the user pilot team identifies potential sticking points, they should report any issues to IT so they can be sorted out in advance of rolling out any new tech to an entire organization. 

Ask for input

To the degree possible, ask staffers for input about what matters most to them in collaboration software. Do they care about design and visual layout? Perhaps they value speed and efficiency above all else. Or maybe some staff want software that is reputed for its security and reliability.

For every software, you should look for any vulnerabilities the software may have and ask if it meets your colleagues’ day-to-day needs. 

Consistency and ease of operator use are crucial, too, because your organization is likely staffed by people with varying degrees of tech savviness. 

If it works for staffers’ schedules, you may consider holding a brief, informal meeting to take the temperature of what people want and are looking for. That said, be mindful of inviting too many cooks in the kitchen and slowing down the process as a result. Depending on the number of staffers, you may want to select a small committee of a diverse group of staffers across the spectrum, from new hires to the most senior staffers. 

Aim for comprehensive

To keep transitions and communication as seamless as possible, you should look for platforms that offer high-functionality across different mediums — laptop, desktop and phone — as well as across communication styles. For example, Zoom is helpful for boht one-on-one meetings as well as conference calls and webinar-style meetings, and Slack offers quick text messaging, group messaging and supports video calls. 

Remember: You can always start over

Ideally, the decided-upon pick will be the one your company sticks with for the long haul. That said, don’t fret if the chosen software isn’t up to snuff or meeting staffers’ most significant needs. As the saying goes: You are not a tree – move. If it happens that a different software may be a better one, go with that. 

For a decision as big as company-wide collaboration software, it may have the potential to feel overwhelming, but don’t let it. Simply test out your options, ask for input, and look for something comprehensive. Relax, you’ve got this. 

Anne McCarthy
Post by Anne McCarthy
May 5, 2021
Anne McCarthy is a freelance journalist who reports on tech and culture. She is a contributing writer to the BBC, The Guardian, WIRED, Teen Vogue, Ms. Magazine, and more.