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The State of Digital Collaboration in 2021.

We surveyed knowledge workers just like you to uncover the trends shaping digital collaboration. Find out what we've learned, and how to make the Future of Work your present in 2021.
Top 3 learnings:
🚨
#1 pain point
Fake urgency
🏆
#1 priority
Better Project Management
⭐️
Avg. satisfaction around digital collaboration
6.5/10
Get a $250 credit on all our paid plans until Oct 31. Valid only for new customers with a team of 3+. Chat with us to learn more!

Why do we care, and why should you

At Gmelius, we're obsessed with simplifying teamwork. As a collaboration platform, we saw how pivotal 2020 became right in front of our eyes. And so did you, as remote work went from a desirable perk to being your new normal.

Honestly, we've been amazed. We saw teams adopt new workflows and methodologies - as an example, the use of our new Kanban Boards in Gmail grew by a whopping 700%.

As Salesforce puts it "2020 wasn't all bad". Companies proved they can move faster than they thought possible: as stated by McKinsey "in just a few months’ time, the COVID-19 crisis has brought about years of change in the way companies do business".

But with teams being fast-tracked into this New World of Work, is everything that easy yet? Every day, we're helping customers transform teamwork. And we're witnessing both opportunities and challenges. So we decided to roll out a survey to dive into the state of digital collaboration and uncover teams' top priorities in 2021.

Why are we doing this? Of course, this survey will nurture our product roadmap. But we also intend to inspire and empower you and your team to make the Future of Work your Present.

What you can expect from this study:

  • You'll discover the results of our survey, so you can compare your experience with the answers of other teams just like yours.
  • You'll find an actionable guide to champion digital collaboration in 2021. Identify tools, workflows and best practices that make sense for your company.

About the data: who took part in our digital collaboration survey?

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Methodology

World Map
We asked customers and potential users to take a 17-question online survey between the end of November and December 2020. A total of 162 respondents took the survey. Then we gathered answers and designed an actionable guide to help teams successfully improve digital collaboration in 2021 based on the insights we uncovered.

Respondents profile

🏢 Company size
Of the 162 total respondents, the largest group (31%) worked in companies of 50-250 employees. 26% worked in companies with up to 10 employees, 26% worked in companies of 10-50 employees, and 15% in companies above 250 employees. The remainder were independent entrepreneurs (3%).

🙋🏻 Team size
The largest group of respondents (43%) declared working within teams of 2-5 members, followed by teams of 6-10 (25%), teams of 11-25 (15%). 8% declared working in teams larger than 25 people and the remainder declared working independently.

🌙 Seniority
The largest group of respondents were Team Managers (37%), followed by CEOs and business owners (19%), Team Members (17%), and then Senior Executives (13%). 4% worked as IT administrators and the remainder declared either working as an independent (3%) or other (5%).

Key insights

#1 Digital Collaboration is not perfect yet

When asked to rate the quality of digital collaboration within their company, respondents gave an average score of 6.5 out of 10. While digital collaboration is something that knowledge workers do every day, our survey reveals that it has room for improvement.

#2 Remote work amplified pre-existing pain points

Fake urgency, lack of transparency and cross-team collaboration are the top collaboration pain points selected by respondents. If these 3 were rampant before COVID-19, the switch to remote work only amplified them.

Top 3 pain points

🚨 Fake urgency

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Which challenges prevent efficient collaboration, within your company's digital workplace?
Graphic - #1 Fake Urgency
The ease of real-time communication tools results in people expecting a real-time response. But this fake urgency is far from effective as when a team member stops a task to respond, they break their flow. But there is hope: asynchronous communication is gaining momentum and we'll detail later how your team can benefit from it.
"More asynchronous communication instead of overusing Slack."

🤷 Lack of transparency

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Which challenges prevent efficient collaboration, within your company's digital workplace?
Graphic - #2 Lack of visibility
Having no office life reduces opportunities for both formal and casual conversations. Yet how can a team member perform (or belong) without transparent information? We found out that teams are very conscious of this issue and trying to find ways to improve. From clever tools to simplified processes, there are lots of low-hanging fruits your team can adopt.
"A better and more visible high level "master overview" of all ongoing projects and issues."

🤝 Cross-team collaboration

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Which challenges prevent efficient collaboration, within your company's digital workplace?
Graphic - #3 Cross team collaboration

Even under the same roof, cross-team collaboration proved to be a challenge. Different reporting lines, goals, tools, workflows... and these differences only increased as teams went remote. Yet tools, workflows, and goals can be unified. Read on to learn how.

"I'd like to bring more of our tools, pipelines, and information together so that my team has better cross-department visibility, collaboration."

#3 Teams tried 80+ new collaboration tools

🔧
62%
of teams added new collaborations tools in 2020
While only 3% declared having reduced their stack. Respondents named a whopping list of more than 80 different tools, with Slack, Zoom, Notion, Trello, and Asana leading the pack. This demonstrates both great reactivity and a will to experiment with tools to better work together.
Word Cloud Collaboration tools

#4 Cost and ease drive purchase decisions

What are your most important criteria when choosing a new collaboration tool?
54% Cost48% Ease of implementation44% Features35% API29% Ease of training29% UX16% Support2% Other
In these uncertain times, when choosing a new collaboration tool, cost and ease of implementation are the top decision factors, ranking even before features. This demonstrates an appetite for lower-commitment and a fast rollout.

#5 Teams feel the pain of tool overload

With an ever-expanding stack of tools, the challenge is to make them play together nicely.  75% of respondents agree that the excess of non-integrated apps is crippling their team's productivity.
"We have too many tools and we add them constantly."

#6 Email is not going away

📧
68%
of teams spend most of their time on emails
In 2021, email continues to be the tool where 68% of teams spend the most time on, above all others, including messaging and video. Only 3.7% of teams aren't using email anymore.

In this new world of work, email remains a central part of a teams' workflow. Yet, it's mostly used as an external communication channel, to interact with customers, partners, and vendors. Only 20% of teams like to collaborate internally over email, which is where syncing email with other channels can considerably transform and remove friction across team workflows.

#7 Better project management tops the list of priorities

What are the most impactful changes you implemented or would like to implement to improve collaboration within your company?
Graphic - Improve collaboration - #1 Project Management

Project management tools and methodologies emerge as the #1 focus to improve digital collaboration, highlighting the need for a more structured approach to work.

Teams are also increasingly focusing on making their workflows smarter, either through more automation, integrations or by consolidating their stack of tools.

Last but not least, another trend we uncovered in our study is the will to improve internal communication, spanning across focusing on company culture, better documentation, smarter meetings, and supporting employees' performance.

Do the above insights sound familiar? So now you probably wonder...
🤔
What can you do to improve team collaboration inside your company in 2021?
🤔
How can you empower your teammates to thrive in a remote setting?
🤔
What are the tools, workflows and methodologies to consider to stay ahead of the curve?
Our answers are in the next section...

Collaboration tools in 2021: how to build your stack

The global pandemic offered companies an opportunity to rethink the physical workspace. But beyond that, it also made it clear: it’s time to fix teamwork.

Based on the insights from our study, we decided to create a suggested list of collaboration tools based on their:
Number 1
Costs
Number 2
Ease of setup
Diversity of features and integrations
Mobile apps availability
Public rating
We’ve divided our list into 6 categories.
Please note, we couldn’t cover all the amazing tools out there. In each category, we picked 3 tools to make sure we help teams and companies of all sizes find at least one that serves their needs.
Pencil

Messaging tools

to streamline internal communications across your teams in real-time
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Remote work has a lot to offer but it’s also not without its pitfalls. Whether you’ve been working remotely for decades or were forced to work from home in 2020, you probably miss spontaneous chats, working in the same room and being able to simply pass by a teammate’s desk and ask a question.

Messaging tools are here to resolve such problems.

Speaking of the same room in the remote environment, you should take a peek at Teamflow. It creates a virtual office space for you and your team to hang out and work together. It’s fun, but most importantly it can totally help you give warmer welcomes to new hires and reinforce a sense of belonging. 🏢 

Even if you didn’t use any of the messaging tools before, in 2020 they became completely inevitable. Although, being essential doesn’t mean being perfect. 

So even if you're not looking for a new messaging tool, we’re sure you’re not a stranger to the exhausting feeling of fake urgency that comes with 24/7 connectivity.

A study shows, on an average day, an employee spends 5 minutes dealing with one interruption every 8 minutes, equating to 50-60 interruptions per day.
If you can relate to this, it means there is certainly room for improvement. Luckily, we’ll be talking about asynchronous communication in the coming sections.

Back to messaging tools, we’ve listed below 3 apps including Slack, Google Chat, and Mattermost.

All of them provide 1:1 and group messaging (including chats with external partners), file sharing and data search, audio and video conferencing, as well as screen sharing.

Pricing
Free with limitations. Paid plans start at $6.67 per user per month.
Part of Google Workspace. Paid plans start at $6 per user per month.
Free for teams with up to 10 users. Paid plans start at $10 per user per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.5
4.3
4.2
G2 Ease of setup /10
8.9
9.1
8.0
What makes them unique
Use the Slackbot chat to create custom responses, set reminders, and easily integrate with your daily tools like Gmelius.
Collaborate in Google Docs, Sheets & Slides, start video calls in Google Meet, use Google search to find past conversations.
Security-conscious, with controls to block posting of sensitive data, and custom data retention policies.
Pricing
Free with limitations. Paid plans start at $6.67 per user per month.
Part of Google Workspace. Paid plans start at $6 per user per month.
Free for teams with up to 10 users. Paid plans start at $10 per user per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.5
4.3
4.2
G2 Ease of setup /10
8.9
9.1
8.0
What makes them unique
Use the Slackbot chat to create custom responses, set reminders, and easily integrate with your daily tools like Gmelius.
Collaborate in Google Docs, Sheets & Slides, start video calls in Google Meet, use Google search to find past conversations.
Security-conscious, with controls to block posting of sensitive data, and custom data retention policies.
By the way, if you are about to or already using Slack, think of integrating it with Gmail via Gmelius. This way you will be able to collaborate with your team on emails and even reply to them directly from Slack. You can read more about our 2-way Gmail-Slack integration (or catch the drift with Star Wars-y explainer video - yes, we love Star Wars).

Clapperboard

Video apps

to run asynchronous video conversations and keep the human touch in the remote world
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We’re pretty sure you’ve already figured out whether it’s Google Meet or Zoom that works best for your company. So we aren’t going to focus on them.

Although, if you're looking for a lighter or simpler video conferencing tool, check out Whereby. Not only it offers “one-click access” to meeting rooms, video meetings with no login nor download, but it also allows you to participate in initiatives like planting trees for hosting meetings. 🌳

You’ve probably heard about “Zoom fatigue” or “Zoombombing”, right? This is why we want to drive your attention to video tools for asynchronous conversations to collaborate and engage with your team.

Below we’ve looked at 3 asynchronous video tools, including Loom, Vidyard, and Hippo Video.

All are rather intuitive and easy to use. Thanks to the flexibility of asynchronous communications, these apps help accelerate team communication and boost productivity. They allow you to easily deliver impactful onboarding, team training, and corporate communications.
Pricing
Free with limitations. Paid plans start at $8 per month.
Free. Paid plans start at $15 per month.
Free trial is available. Plans start at $15 per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.4
4.5
4.4
G2 Ease of setup /10
9.8
8.6
8.9
What makes them unique
Primarily known for optimizing internal communication.
Strong analytics toolset; integrations and customization capabilities.
Professional video editing; integrations; analytics.
Pricing
Free with limitations. Paid plans start at $8 per month.
Free. Paid plans start at $15 per month.
Free trial is available. Plans start at $15 per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.4
4.5
4.4
G2 Ease of setup /10
9.8
8.6
8.9
What makes them unique
Primarily known for optimizing internal communication.
Strong analytics toolset; integrations and customization capabilities.
Professional video editing; integrations; analytics.
Box

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools

to help your team better organize and manage relationships with your customers, leads, vendors, and suppliers
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Regardless of your company size, customer relationship management software is a must-have in your stack of tools.

You need it to track your lead and customer pipeline, collect contact details, and centralize data in one place.

Below we’re listing 3 well-known software, namely HubSpot, Pipedrive and Salesforce. While all of them are reliable, powerful and easy-to-use, they are geared towards slightly different users.
Pricing
Free plan is available. Paid plans start at $45 per month.
Starts at $12.50 per user per month.
30-day trial. Chat with the team for the quote.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.3
4.3
4.2
G2 Ease of setup /10
8.3
8.7
7.1
What makes them unique
Detailed contact records; centralized touch points inside an inbox; track of individual and team performance.
Focuses on sales-specific activities, visual pipeline management, activity management, team reporting.
Known for managing complex sales cycles, wide range of integrations, AI lead scoring, internal collaboration features, robust reporting.
Pricing
Free plan is available. Paid plans start at $45 per month.
Starts at $12.50 per user per month.
30-day trial. Contact for enterprise pricing.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.3
4.3
4.2
G2 Ease of setup /10
8.3
8.7
7.1
What makes them unique
Detailed contact records; centralized touchpoints inside an inbox; track of individual and team performance.
Focuses on sales-specific activities, visual pipeline management, activity management, team reporting.
Known for managing complex sales cycles, wide range of integrations, AI lead scoring, internal collaboration features, robust reporting.
Joystick

Project Management tools

to let your team have a bigger picture of all the moving parts and collaborate efficiently
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Using Google Drive feeling like it’s not enough any longer? It becomes messy and hard to manage? We feel you.

Although, with the variety of project management tools available, choosing one for your team can easily become overwhelming. 

To help you out, we decided to focus on 3 powerful, yet quite different solutions including, Trello, Asana, and ClickUp.
Pricing
Free. Paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month5 per month.
Free plan is available. Paid plans start at $10.99 per user per month.
Free plan is available. Paid plans start at $5 per user per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.4
4.3
4.7
G2 Ease of setup /10
9.1
8.7
8.4
What makes them unique
To manage projects the Kanban way (and more), make your boards public, and access a variety of templates and Power Ups (automations & integrations).
Full suite where you can organize work in the view that works best for your team (lists, boards, calendars, timelines).
A "one place for all your work" to import and manage your tasks and projects, with extensive customization capabilities.
Pricing
Free. Paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month.
Free. Paid plans start at $10.99 per user per month.
Free. Paid plans start at $5 per user per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.4
4.3
4.7
G2 Ease of setup /10
9.1
8.7
8.4
What makes them unique
To manage projects the Kanban way (and more), make your boards public, and access a variety of templates and Power Ups (automations & integrations).
Full suite where you can organize work in the view that works best for your team (lists, boards, calendars, timelines).
A "one place for all your work" to import and manage your tasks and projects, with extensive customization capabilities.
Folder

Knowledge Management tools

to document your company processes in an easy-to-find and collaborative way
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When information is scattered everywhere, it’s easy to feel frustrated or make mistakes. For teams to be more nimble and better aligned, we recommend you to check out knowledge management tools.

Below we’ve listed Slite, Notion and Guru. With one of it in hand, each of your teammates will have access to the right information at any time. A knowledge management software acts as a centralized hub, preventing you to waste time needlessly toggling between apps and tabs.
Pricing
Free for up to 100 docs. Paid plans start at $6.67 per user per month.
Free for personal usage. Team plans start at $8 per user per month.
Free for up to 10 users. Paid plans start at $14 per user per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.8
4.5
4.6
G2 Ease of setup /10
9.8
8.7
8.8
What makes them unique
Knowledge base is compiled in channels, similar to Slack; powerful search algorithm; extensive template library.
Multiple views including Kanban boards, calendar and list; functionality to manage spreadsheets and databases; wide range of templates.
Card format is easy to share and embed; numerous integrations.
Pricing
Free for up to 100 docs. Paid plans start at $6.67 per user per month.
Free for personal usage. Team plans start at $8 per user per month.
Free for up to 10 users. Paid plans start at $14 per user per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.8
4.5
4.6
G2 Ease of setup /10
9.8
8.7
8.8
What makes them unique
Knowledge base is organized by channels, similar to Slack; powerful search; embed any format of documents; extensive template library.
Multiple views including Kanban boards, calendar and list; functionality to manage spreadsheets and databases; wide range of templates.
Card format is easy to share and embed; numerous integrations.
Heart

A new way to collaborate with 2-way integrations

to bring your teams and their tools together, and ultimately make your teams happier
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Collaboration pitfalls to expect and to avoid

“The more the merrier” doesn’t really work in case of a collaboration stack. Here it’s rather “less is more”.

"We would like to find a way to motivate people to use the tools we have and stop using an increasing number of diverse tools within a work group. There are too many of these available and it leads to disastrous levels of information and loss between groups."

Our survey clearly shows the sentiment of tool overload, hence needless apps switching, lack of visibility and, as a result, lower team productivity. Instead of adding new tools think of integrating your existing tools with each other. You will prevent duplication of tasks, and provide your team with a centralized source of information.

Collaboration solutions with bidirectional integrations
With the growing range of highly specialized applications, companies of all sizes are using 40+ different apps to run their business. Thus, integrated solutions, like Unito and PieSync, are becoming absolutely essential. They allow you to save time and gain visibility into your workflows by connecting all your tools together with bidirectional syncing.

At Gmelius we also understand the need to transform your work processes allowing each team member to collaborate right inside the tools they already use. 
Pricing
Free forever. Paid plans start at $9 per user per month.
Free trial. Plans start at $10 per month.
Free trial. Plans start at $49 per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.4
4.5
4.6
G2 Ease of setup /10
8.7
8.0
9.2
What makes them unique
Focus on email collaboration starting right inside with Gmail, integrating 2-way with Slack, Trello and via API.
Focus on workflow management to integrate work done from one platform to another (like Asana, HubSpot, Jira, etc.).
Focus on keeping customer data in sync across business apps with a total of 253 apps available for integration.
Pricing
Free forever. Paid plans start at $9 per user per month.
Starts at $10 per month.
Free trial. Plans start at $49 per month.
Integrations
check
check
check
Mobile app
check
check
check
G2 Rating /5
4.4
4.5
4.6
G2 Ease of setup /10
8.7
8.0
9.2
What makes them unique
Focus on email collaboration starting right inside Gmail, integrating 2-way with Slack, Trello and via API.
Focus on workflow management to integrate work done from one platform to another (like Asana, HubSpot, Jira, etc.).
Focus on keeping customer data in sync across business apps with a total of 253 apps available for integration.
A recent HubSpot study shows, COVID-19 hasn’t just affected where we work — it has also changed how we work. 2020 made it clear - current ways of working are sabotaging teamwork and change is needed.

Our survey shows teams are looking for:
"Optimisation AND alignment behind existing processes"
"Any tool which will reduce the manual work"
"Audit of low-return time consuming activities"
That’s why in the next section we’ll look into which parts of your daily workflows that can and should be automated.

Workflow automation: where to start

You’ve carefully chosen each tool. You’ve built your perfect stack. Now, you’re ready to get down to work - and the best way to start is to automate all grunt work.

As the Harvard Business Review puts it “every job contains some unglamorous grunt work”. But what’s considered grunt work after all?

All work and no play

We believe grunt work is all the repetitive, boring yet unskippable tasks that need to be done for any successful project. Whether you're switching between apps while searching for the right information or following up on the status of work - all this falls under grunt work. 

According to SnapLogic, 90% of employees are being burdened with boring and repetitive tasks which could be easily automated. 

Workflow automation is here to do the heavy lifting of any part of your daily processes and give your teams the needed freedom to focus on what matters.

Workflow automations to the rescue

To give you an idea which processes can be automated, below we're listing the ones you can use as a starting point.

Speaker

Automate workload distribution

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Regardless of your department, you want to spend less time distributing and assigning tasks. By creating service level agreements within each team and across departments, you’ll make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. You can then set up automation rules that would distribute workload on the chosen triggers.

Streamline meetings

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Remote work not only skyrocketed the number of tools we use daily, but also the number of meetings we attend. To reduce the number of unnecessary meetings you can also automate the way you schedule and even run them.

You may also want to automate meeting minutes, allowing tools like deepTalk or Hendrix to record, transcribe and summarize meeting conversations for you.

Lens 3D

Automate customer outreach and follow-ups

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Delivering customer-facing services in a timely manner is crucial. For efficient client management a game-changer will be to streamline repetitive outreach (think of confirmation emails), automatically trigger internal notifications or reminders, as well as engage and pre-qualify customers with AI-powered chats, like Drift or Intercom.

Heart

Streamline your hiring processes

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COVID-19 has significantly changed the hiring process. There are no more face-to-face interviews or real-life employee onboarding. On top, with millennials representing 50% of the global workforce, hiring processing is also increasing in frequency.

For companies to attract the right workforce, streamlining their hiring processes is key. Allow candidates to schedule appointments with you themselves - without interrupting your daily workflows. Also, consider creating predefined email templates to eliminate repetitive tasks at each stage of the selection process, use tools like Breezy or GoHire to automate application tracking and selection, and define an onboarding package to get your employees up to speed in a remote world.

Button 3D

APIs and no-code automation tools

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Above were just a few examples, but based on your industry and use case there are so many more processes that can be automated. In today’s digital economy, application programming interfaces (APIs) allow you to extract data from one software application and pass it to another one securely and in real time.

Today, to automate your business processes you don’t even have to know how to be a developer. No-code tools like Unito, PieSync or Zapier allow you to connect tools between each other and sync data within your existing stack, while, for example, Glide lets you create custom applications by only using your Google Spreadsheets. Another no-code hack we love ourselves is Airtable scripts that help teams automate manual work whether it’s to remove duplicates or convert URLs into attachments.

Company transparency: 7 best practices you can use

Before bringing your team together to identify processes that can be automated and ensure grunt work doesn’t dominate your days, you want to make sure you and your team members are on the same page.
 
Clear accountability and transparency play a key role in employees’ alignment and provide visibility of a bigger picture. It’s especially crucial when everyone is working remotely.

Front’s team surveyed 2,000 remote workers across the U.S and found that 58% of respondents said that working from home has made it difficult for them to see the larger purpose of their job.

Transparency comes with simplification and flexibility. Whether it’s to visualize a workflow with your preferred view option, easily find all relevant information, automate grunt work, schedule a meeting in 1 click or let your teammates choose which tool to collaborate from with the rest of the team.

Below we’re listing a few best practices to help you reach the desired level of transparency across your teams.

#1 Identify your go-to project management methodology

We’ve summarized the 4 types of project management methodologies and how to choose the right one for your team in an article a few weeks ago:

The Lean method is about eliminating processes and adhering to a few core principles. It’s perfect to run small projects in a short period of time.
Scrum is ideal to clearly structure the project. It has a defined flow of short iterations (sprints), roles and a set of rituals and activities.
Kanban has no predetermined rules nor any time estimations. It is flexible and easy to understand, allows you to adapt visual boards to fit your particular projects and workflows, and quickly add or remove items at any moment.
The Agile framework is best suited when you need a plan with iteration stages, rapid feedback and constant updates throughout the process.

#2 Embrace asynchronous communication

In our study, fake urgency and better workflows are in the top priorities to improve digital collaboration. And we couldn't agree more. We believe asynchronous communication is a foundation for better workflows.

Asynchronous communication (or async, for short) is gaining momentum for a reason. Especially when working remotely, work simply can't happen at the same time for everyone.

Asynchronous communication is when you don’t expect a recipient to immediately reply to your message.
Our survey reveals that modern teams need:
"More asynchronous communication instead of overusing Slack"

Why is there such a need? Because asynchronous communication gives employees control when they communicate with their teammates. Async communication lets you prioritize deep work, efficiently structure communication and, as a result, reach company-wide transparency.

So where do you start with asynchronous communication?

  • Bring your stack together to let everyone collaborate and structure their workflows in their preferred way
  • Connect your team inbox with internal chat to centralize conversations around emails and have contextualized information available at your fingertips
  • Choose tools that support both real-time and asynchronous communication (like Pitch for collaborative presentations)
  • Document your processes and learn to communicate more clearly to avoid unnecessary back and forths
  • Avoid ASAP requests, communicate everything upfront and better plan your collaborations and workload in advance

#3 Create a company wiki

Remote work means less casual conversations and water cooler chats. Remote work also means your colleagues might be sleeping during your working hours. Thus, remote work means everyone should document all key processes.

Because proper documentation brings transparency. So, if you haven’t yet, start by creating a company wiki. As Slite puts it, the most important is to help your team trade oral communication, emails, and chats, for a written culture. A company-wiki should make it so easy to get in the habit of documenting your work and give everyone the autonomy to clearly find and share up-to-date information.

According to our respondents, many teams are in need for “Better sharing of information”.

A company wiki does exactly this. It centralizes all your company information, makes it easy to find and collaborate on it in real time. Think of documenting your company values and roadmap, onboarding processes, administrative information, taking meeting notes and recording company announcements.

#4 Set the stage for smarter meetings

The right project management methodology, asynchronous communication and efficient documentation will foster a culture of clarity. When teams can align on who is doing what, you also avoid extra internal and external meetings.  
"Better time management, especially in regards to client meetings. Client communications tend to be the biggest time waster. I want more doing, more clarity, less meetings."

To help you plan and successfully run meetings, we’ve collected 3 tips in a blog post that we, at Gmelius, are following ourselves.

Shrink 1-hour meetings to 45 minutes
📅
Never send invites without an agenda
💻
Make room for Deep Work

The problem of the Iceberg of Ignorance where “Only 4% of an organization's front-line problems are known by top management” is still relevant today.

Thus, if you're looking for more advice, consider bringing all voices into a conversation, encouraging quieter members to participate and share potential roadblocks.

Last but not least, tools like Fellow can help you take and share meeting notes with all attendees, where every member will have a clear understanding of next actions and takeaways.

#5 Set clear goals

Setting clear goals plays a crucial role in teams moving forward and ensuring company processes run successfully. By selecting the right metrics you’ll get a holistic view of your team’s performance and provide a vision for success. A methodology we use at Gmelius is the OKR framework, aka Objectives and Key Results, which keeps us focused and aligned quarter after quarter.

Next, make sure you set SMART goals for your team. Without clear accountability and understanding of what your team should aim for, it is hard to hit company goals.

Last but not least, work towards establishing a 2-way dialog and being close with your team. Consider booking time for regular team stand-ups and 1:1s, and constantly communicating with your team on company objectives to champion alignment.
"We have defined another way of managing, closer to the teams, by promoting individual interviews."

#6 Make team performance visible

With clear goals in place, it’s also important to make team workload and performance visible.

To reach the desired level of visibility, especially when working remotely, consider implementing Daily Diary practices. Your team can use any of the knowledge management tools to briefly explain who is doing what on a daily basis.

In addition, you can gain a bigger picture and better estimate team performance with robust team performance reports. For example, Gmelius dashboard provides you with detailed team activity reports. They allow you to track critical email KPIs, identify roadblocks and unblock them, driving continuous improvements.

#7 Make your team happier

Right after more efficient project management, better workflows and a more integrated tech stack, our respondents see company culture as the most important area that requires improvements.

The world of work is changing - and changing us. In the light of these changes many see the “better physical communication”, “better in-person communication” or “more face-to-face interactions” as part of needed improvements.

As the NewYorker states it “Digital technology should not be a substitute for human connection”, instead it “should help human connection when there are constraints of space and time”. Thus, we hope all the best practices mentioned in this study will help you make the most of your stack.

Company transparency, flexible workspace and employee wellbeing are going hand in hand. A study around the state of remote work in 2020 shows that the top 3 biggest struggles when working remotely are collaboration / communication, loneliness and not being able to unplug. That’s why we’ve put together 3 more tips to help you make your teams happier.

Think of establishing virtual coffee breaks as a team. Bring water cooler chats back to your daily lives. Check out Donut, it integrates inside Slack and motivates people to carry lively conversations for your team.
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Consider trying employee success platforms like Peakon or Leapsome that improve employee engagement and performance by allowing you to make data-driven decisions. 
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Keep in mind that company culture is built day over day. Thus, implementing weekly and monthly “routines” that help people unplug can be a game changer. Group fitness classes, perks aligned with your company values (think of mental health days, or an annual budget for well-being), and learning & development initiatives… to name a few.
All of the above will not only make every employee happier but will also help your company attract and retain top talents.

2021 and beyond

The current state of Digital Collaboration is not perfect, but it most definitely can be fixed. We invite you to consider this year as an unprecedented opportunity. 

The Future of Work is here and it’s up to you, your team and your company to define a new blueprint. We hope this report can inspire you to get started.

On our side, we're on a mission to take down fake urgency, lack of transparency, and cross-team collaboration hurdles. We'll continue to listen to our customers and design solutions to make the Future of Work your Present.
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