Once upon a time, briefcases and Filofaxes were indispensable business accessories. How would you carry around your documents or remember different contacts without them? Fortunately, these antiquated items have been consigned to the dustbin of history. We now have all-singing and all-dancing digital replacements instead.

However, it’s not just individual items that have gone digital. Entire businesses now operate in the cloud. The age of the digital office — a working environment that’s entirely paperless with employees collaborating 24/7 from any location — is well and truly upon us. And it’s all thanks to web-based communication and collaboration platforms.

Communication platforms

Platforms like Slack, Chanty, and Flock have been specifically designed to make communication simpler. Slack, for example, creates ‘workspaces’ (or chat spaces) where co-workers can create different threads or ‘channels’ for specific projects. These can involve everyone within the company or just a selected few.

It’s easy to pick up how these platforms work — especially if you’ve used social media before. Workers can either send messages on public threads, where everyone will see them, or direct message each other privately. They can also tag colleagues to draw specific messages to their attention or assign actions.

Not all the communication is written though. You can also communicate directly with colleagues via voice or video calls within these platforms. This makes remote meetings simple. Indeed, it’s an excellent way to maintain camaraderie during the pandemic when many team members are working remotely. It’s certainly easier than using your phone.

These web-based communication tools also boast the ability to share / attach files as you might via email. Once again this makes collaborating incredibly simple wherever your team are based. You can also download mobile versions to collaborate when you’re on the move.

Project management tools

Platforms like Asana, ProofHub, and Monday.com are more than mere communication tools; they actually help businesses to organise workflow. This keeps everyone in sync and helps projects to be completed on time. It also ensures that nothing falls through the cracks so your chances of success are maximised.

Key aspects of each project will be itemised in your dashboard. This listing will contain a due date, assigned employees, plus either a progress bar or a status indicator so everyone knows where things stand. This helps managers to create critical pathways so that projects come together at the right time.

Although it’s possible to do all the above with conventional means — you can always fall back on spread sheets and pin them up on your office wall — web-based project management platforms like Asana make managing projects with different moving parts so much easier. What’s more, all the information is at your fingertips 24/7.

These cloud-based platforms are also brilliant for keeping the strategic direction of your business on course. You can set long-term goals and monitor progress towards them. What’s more, employees can see exactly where they fit into your overall plan. Everyone knows who is responsible for what and how close you are to achieving your grand aspirations.

Naturally, managers can also see how employees are performing. If a particular task falls behind then extra support or motivation can be found. You can also monitor individual employees’ workloads. Have they been asked to do too much? If so then reassigning tasks, as well as assigning new ones, is simple. Just click, drag, and drop.

The whole package

If you’re looking for something more comprehensive than a communication or project management platform, why not sign up for a package of collaboration applications by a single provider? The best-known examples are Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and Microsoft Teams. These are marketed as broader office solutions that offer ‘everything you need to get anything done’.

These web-based collaboration solutions harness messaging, chat, email, video conferencing, file sharing, file storage, contact organisation, calendars, plus insightful business tools under one roof. They might not offer quite the same communication expertise as a Slack, or the detailed management features of an Asana, but there’s still plenty for aspiring businesses to sink their teeth into. For example Google Meet is a perfectly adequate video conferencing tool, whilst Google Sheets and Calendar can help you to plan projects.

Businesses big and small are eagerly embracing these cloud-based collaboration packages because they streamline processes and make life simpler for employees. Rather than relying on mobiles to text colleagues, using backup hard drives to store files, or physical diaries to organise workflow, everything is available from a single dashboard. This means workers only have to familiarise themselves with one interface rather than multiple platforms by different providers.

The choice is yours

Whatever type of web-based software you ultimately choose for your business, they all have one important thing in common: they all save time, make communication and collaboration easier, drive efficiencies, and thereby increase your team’s productivity. What’s more, they’re all incredibly simple and intuitive to learn. Therefore, your team will adapt to them quickly and never look back.

It’s also important to remember that cloud-based software packages are only going to increase in prevalence and sophistication in the coming years. Consequently, there’s no time like the present to future-proof your business. However, it’s only possible to make full use of these innovative developments if your business has a fast and reliable Internet connection.

Our recommendation would be to choose the fastest connection available in your area. With automation and artificial intelligence (AI) on the rise, and the likelihood of multiple employees streaming media or engaged in video conferencing simultaneously, you need all the bandwidth you can muster. And this, of course, is something we can support you with both today and tomorrow.