Thanks to the advancing technology, there are now multiple ways to communicate and collaborate within a business. Business communication between employers, managers, clients and employees is important for the success of any operation. The most advanced online communication devices are usually offered for free or at reasonable prices. Here are some tools you can use to aide communication amongst staff members, improve collaboration and productivity within your business by enabling remote access.
Facebook for business? Why not!
This online social networking site is the home to millions of users. With its recently upgraded privacy settings and easy-to-use features, everyone is now using this free tool. Business owners can create groups that are just for staff members.
Once a group is created, and staff members are invited (they must be a member of Facebook before receiving group invites), messages, documents and images can be shared. This makes communication within the group very easy. For example, short updates can be posted to the group’s wall. Facebook is a free service and anyone who has joined can access it from anywhere, as long as they have an Internet connection and a valid email address.
Phone Calls Using Skype or Engin
Skype is free software that has a lot of amazing communication features. Its competitor, Engin, offers a similar service. Both use something called “Voice Over Internet Protocol” (or VoIP). Employers can conduct video and conference calls at the touch of a button using VoIP. Other features of these services include instant messaging, screen sharing and file transfers.
Calls using Engin and Skype over the Internet are free – you just pay a low monthly flat-fee access cost.
This software is great for managers and bosses who want to personally keep their employees up-to-date, or reduce conference or travel costs. Many sales and marketing managers use this software to conduct online training seminars. To download the software, the user must have a computer with Internet and basic Windows (or Mac), meaning you probably won’t have to pay for any expensive equipment upgrades before getting it up and running and starting to use it as a collaboration tool.
Yahoo Messenger and MSN
This chat board software has been around since computers were invented. When first created, the software was only able to transfer small messages between members (in real-time). New features include integration with other major social networking sites such as Flickr and Twitter. It comes pre-loaded with improved language support and enhanced video calling.
The newest version (Yahoo Messenger 10) is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. You could also try MSN instant messenger which offers a free instant messaging service that is very popular in Australia. Both are very successful, and popular, communication platforms.
Documents Sharing Sites
There are a plethora of websites that allow free online document sharing between members without needing to be on the same company network.
These sharing sites are good not only for communication but also for projects that involve multiple teams or agencies or when people need access to documents but can’t get to their email, fax machine or the company’s VPN.
Three of the most popular document-sharing websites include: Google Docs, MS Live and Scribd. Users can share web documents, presentations and spreadsheets. These services are free, however, most of the time they will offer enhanced features for a small price. With an enhanced features subscription, users also get access to a larger number of gigabytes of storage space.
Remote Access to a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network, or VPN, uses the Internet to provide information for certain users working off-site or to outpost offices using remote access passwords. This information is usually provided on the organisation’s network. It is not expensive to have a VPN.
In many cases, a VPN network can be built for free, and there is free software available to new or small business owners who are on a tight budget.
Remote access to a virtual private network can be offered as software or as a service. Some of the top VPN client software includes Cisco and OpenVPN.
Sharing Information On Twitter
Twitter is one of the biggest online social networking sites in the world (next to Facebook). People can find and interact (in 140 character chunks) with others who are interested in the same things they are. You can share information and opinions about products and services and more in real time by updating your status. Links to useful information, websites and videos can also be included in a post.
It’s not private – the information you put out there is available to all of your followers, whether they be friends, workmates or random followers. Increasingly this channel is being used for making announcements and supports the rapid spread of breaking news. Rather than being an internal channel to empower staff collaboration, it is a communication tool to help businesses engage with its customers and the media.
There are many benefits to enhancing collaboration within a business and, of course, many ways to improve business communications that can save money and reduce overheads.