Four tips to improve your cloud collaboration
How you and your team can avoid common cloud-etiquette conundrums
Cloud computing tools can easily bring far-flung team members together to collaborate on projects quickly and securely, but it’s important to establish a code of conduct for working together in order to keep things running smoothly.
Here are a few strategies for refining your team’s cloud-computing etiquette.
1. Get everyone on the same page.
Use a video conference to introduce all team members and their respective roles, especially those who don’t work in the same location. It’s also a good idea to set up the tools that will be used and ensure everyone understands how to use them. For example, in cases where database forms should be filled out in a particular way, make that clear at the outset. “Helping [employees] understand why something needs to be done will encourage them to do it properly,” says George Easton, President of ion8, a company that helps businesses with technology solutions. One additional piece of advice: to keep your work secure. Don’t set the permissions to access your files in the cloud to “public.”
2. Use agreed-upon communication tools.
Although you’re working together in the cloud, other channels – email, marked-up printed documents, meetings, etc. – can be used for different kinds of communication. “There’s not one app to rule them all,” says Chris Cowperthwaite, Founder and CEO of Groundforce Digital, which provides training and resources for creating digital strategies. Real-time meetings, for example, can be conducted by videoconference, while team members might use an online document’s commenting function to provide feedback ahead of each weekly deadline.
3. Manage expectations.
In an office environment, it’s easier to figure out that a co-worker might be too busy to answer your quick question because you see they’re wearing headphones or their office door is closed. Cloud collaboration requires substitutes for such obvious physical signals, such as a message pinned to the top of the team’s digital bulletin board indicating your availability. If, for example, you always answer questions immediately when you’re online, team members might expect a speedy reply every time your “available” indicator turns green – unless you tell them otherwise. Start manually setting your online presence status to “busy” or “do not disturb” when you really can’t be interrupted.
4. Allow for flexibility in work styles.
Though you and your team are working collaboratively, it’s important to remember that each person has his or her own way of getting the job done. Some people have every possible notification feature active all the time, while others may only check on a project’s progress daily, weekly or when deadlines demand it. One person may work defined hours, while another will make contributions at what seem like random times of the day. Avery Swartz, tech expert and founder of Camp Tech, says as long as team members are meeting expectations and not impairing the ability of others to make contributions, individual approaches and work styles should be respected.