How Distributed Teams Can Unite with Collaborative Technology Now

How Distributed Teams Can Unite with Collaborative Technology Now

Remote work has transformed the marketing landscape, making collaboration more difficult than ever before.

In the Salesforce 8th Edition State of Marketing Report, drawing from 6,000 marketers across 35 countries and analyzing trillions of outbound marketing messages sent using the Salesforce platform, 69% of marketers say it’s harder to collaborate now than before the pandemic.

Marketers juggle communications, processes, collaboration, and problem-solving, all while trying to excel in a hybrid world. According to the research, marketing leaders feel the trend is here to stay — 70% expect investments in remote technologies to be permanent. The investment organizations make in collaboration technologies to ensure that work gets done, regardless of location, is sound.

“To unify global marketing teams, organizations have adapted to the shifting needs of their workforce. The key to empowering teams is an all-in adoption approach to collaborative tools and processes to make teams agile and aligned for customers.”

Collaboration as if Your Business Depended on It

Marketers surveyed in the research said they used the following collaboration technologies:

  • 46% use video conferencing
  • 45% use channel-based collaboration platforms:
  • 45% use instant messaging or chat apps
  • 44% use enterprise social networks
  • 43% use email
  • 42% use shared documents
  • 41% use voice messaging
  • 38% use phone
  • 36% use virtual whiteboards

Technologies such as video conferencing, channel-based collaboration platforms (like Slack and Microsoft Teams), instant messaging or chat apps, and enterprise social networks lead the pack. While email makes it into the top five, it’s clear that communication tools that enable instant, concurrent work is preferred to conduct team business.

Research says marketers have adopted an average of four collaboration technologies to facilitate digital-first collaboration and unify their global marketing teams, spread across various communication tools like video conferencing, collaboration platforms, and chat apps.

Integrating one platform that streamlines multiple applications and workflows can break silos and better coordinate marketing efforts. But it’s the adoption of the platform that can empower teams. Is the leadership team encouraging teams to use collaboration platforms but not using it themselves? Are content teams using one tool but designers using another?

How Distributed Teams Can Unite with Collaborative Technology Now 

Fueling a Post-Pandemic Workforce

Greater collaboration boosts productivity, improves innovation, and shortens the cycle time. Numerous IT tools facilitate enterprise collaboration, such as file sharing, instant messaging, cloud storage, whiteboard, and other IT tools.

These tools frequently have overlapping functionality and differing standards on a company’s IT organization and infrastructure. For instance, during COVID-19, there was an increase in the use of collaborative software as companies adopted hybrid and work-from-home working styles.

According to Gartner survey respondents, only 30 percent had companies where the employees worked distributedly before the pandemic, whereas, after the pandemic, it is projected that 48 percent of respondents' companies will have distributed workplaces. To work distributedly is different than working remotely, as "work distributedly" assumes that there isn’t a main location to work remotely from in the first place. Instead, the company itself is distributed.

Gartner also revealed that in August 2021, workers’ use of collaboration tools increased by 44% since 2019. Therefore, the increased collaboration across multiple geographies is expected to boost demand for enterprise collaboration tools during the forecast period.

Technological advancement is a key trend gaining popularity in the enterprise collaboration market. The growing demand for AI and the increasing integration of enterprise collaboration solutions with cloud and mobile technologies to streamline business operations is projected to open possibilities for the enterprise collaboration market to expand.

5 Tips to Collaborate Better with a Remote Team

Employees used to bounce ideas off each other in the break room or over lunch. They dropped into their boss’ office to get their take on an idea. Colleagues informally brainstormed their way to the next big idea. Now there are walls, buildings, and miles between teammates, and trends show that they aren’t collaborating as well as they used to. Here are some tips for front-line managers to help employees collaborate more effectively as they work remotely full or part-time.

1) Establish communication norms. Teams will want to determine which channels they’ll use primarily, Slack and Google docs. Determine guidelines on when to send messages and expect responses. Teams may want to create channels specific to projects, subjects, or tasks, which eliminates everyone being on every message and getting overloaded.

2) Set milestone goals. Teams that work toward the same goal collaborate more effectively to reach it. Teams can establish a big-picture goal for the month, including outcomes. Then teams can break down tasks into weekly or bi-weekly sprints so that each member knows their priorities and can schedule a time to collaborate.

3) Set up recurring meetings. Set aside time weekly at the same time for team members to collaborate on a video. Consider a 15-minute huddle to review what everyone plans to accomplish and to identify any obstacles that need to be handled. Make sure the cadence of your meeting schedules works for the team, and cancel meetings if there isn’t a clear goal to achieve.

4) Create space for friendship. Friends naturally collaborate more than colleagues who aren’t so friendly. They have more social conversations, which create opportunities to collaborate more professionally. Connecting with teammates can improve outcomes, whether it’s a fun holiday photo contest or book club.

5) Create opportunities for collaboration. You may want to delegate a higher-level responsibility to two leaders ready to step up and collaborate to get it done. You can give them goals, deadlines, and expectations but let them choose how they’ll collaborate.

Building a Future-Proof Marketing Organization

As businesses grapple with rapidly-evolving technology, rising customer expectations, and a shifting labor market, it's important to nurture a skilled talent pool of marketers. Salesforce research identifies talent gaps as a top challenge for one in three marketers. Looking ahead, marketers see improving skills in content marketing, campaign strategy, and data analytics as crucial to success in the next two years. This insight can give marketing leaders a clear direction — and opportunity — to upskill their teams, retain their top talent, and create future-forward career paths.

Future-proof your business and accelerate growth with a winning strategy. Contact us to build a solid foundation for unified commerce across people, processes, and technology.

Becky Wright

Author: Becky Wright, VP Salesforce Alliance & Marketing

Becky’s background in corporate marketing, sales and leadership spans several industries including Media and Communications, Retail and Consumer Goods, Professional Services, Finance and Technology. With more than 15 years of worldwide experience in rapidly growing organizations, Becky plays a major role in integrating technologies and business processes to create demand engines that influence and convert growth. Becky’s passion for technology and B2B enterprise services inspire her to share unique perspectives on digital transformation strategies that deliver strong results and deep business intelligence.