Sometimes it’s a little too easy to take your own industry’s language for granted. I realised this the other day when someone at a public sector event asked me ‘what is an online workspace?’ It didn’t take me long to explain, but it did give me the impetus to write a short blog explaining what an online workspace is – and how you can get the best from one.
What is an online workspace?
At its simplest, an online workspace could be just a shared folder that allows you and others to upload and share files. Think of applications like Dropbox or Microsoft SkyDrive, which are Cloud file repositories accessible via desktop and mobile devices.
But with more advanced software, an online workspace becomes much more powerful. Not only does it create a secure online area in which you can share information with others, but it gives you tools that bring purpose and context to your collaboration.
Depending on the software package you select, you may have access to other useful functions to help you teamwork. For example, Kahootz online collaboration software provides many other helpful workspace features, including:
- A workspace dashboard – highlighting recent contributions, upcoming meetings and tasks due
- Secure file sharing – so you can share information only with those who need it
- Team creation – to set different levels of view and edit privileges
- Webpage and wiki creation – to quickly share content and ideas
- Multi-author documents – allowing others to simultaneously work on and edit large documents
- Multiple task lists – to assign work to team members and monitor progress
- Group calendars – to manage meetings and display deadlines and milestones
- Auto task reminders – to keep work on track
- Quick polls and questionnaires – to gauge opinion and seek feedback
- Document versioning/locking – combined with a full audit trail of downloads, comments and modifications
It would be very easy to list the many other features available in Kahootz, but the key to making the most of them is via workspaces that provide purpose and context for team members.
Kahootz differs from many online collaboration applications because it not only allows you to decide which collaboration tools your team members have access to, but also how they are laid out in a workspace. This means you can customise each online workspace to reflect and support a specific business collaboration activity.
For example, if you use Kahootz as a secure tender portal, the emphasis will be on sharing specification and requirements documents securely with prospective suppliers, allowing them to upload and submit their proposals and for you to respond collectively to their queries. In this business context you are unlikely to use tools like multi-author documents. On the other hand, if you are working with colleagues to develop policy, these might be one of the first tools you use.
Matching tools to your purpose
The key to creating a powerful online workspace, therefore, is to be clear about the objectives of your online teams – and then create a logically organised online space that has the tools they need to achieve them.
Do they need online project management software? Calendars and task lists are a must.
Are they creating a legal deal room? Secure file sharing will become central, as will commenting on information that’s shared.
Are your teams on the move? Make sure they benefit from email alerts that tell them when information has been added to the workspace or changed.
In a very similar way, our post on Choosing the right digital stakeholder engagement channels, guides you through the process of choosing tools that allow you to consult, inform or collaborate with internal or external stakeholders. Many of those tools are available within Kahootz, enabling you to configure your workspace to the best purpose.
We’ll be looking in more detail at how you can make online workspaces more powerful in an upcoming post on secure file sharing, and whether it offers what your business needs.
But for the meantime, whether you’re working collaboratively with colleagues, on projects with third parties, or consulting with stakeholders, make sure you build your online workspaces with purpose and context around the aims and objectives of each group and project – it’s not the variety of tools that results in greater productivity, but how they are used!