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Collaboration: Working Together, While Apart

More businesses recognize that remote workers include telecommuters as well as workers located in different offices. Because nearly everyone works with people who are in different departments and locations, many businesses are moving work online to better serve these remote working situations, whether the worker is local or remote, moving or static.

The vast majority of organizations already use basic collaboration tools - email, instant messaging, intranets, or web conferences - to share information between colleagues in different locations. " Today's employers want to provide a common electronic work space where employees can collaborate on projects regardless of their office locations, time zones, travel schedules or "flex hours," says Ian Campbell, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Groupware is software that groups of people use together over computer networks and the Internet. It is based on the assumption that computer networks help people increase their productivity by collaborating and sharing information. The object of Web-based groupware is to help companies with multiple locations organize and manage projects collaboratively. The bonus is that it streamlines how teams interact and collaborate to complete work.

Basic categories for Groupware products include e-mail/messaging, group calendaring and scheduling, and workflow tools. Groupware also comes in the form of bulletin board, interactive conferencing, threaded discussions, and chat room applications.

Ongoing collaborations are inherently superior to face-to-face meetings because they allow collaboration over long periods of time, and keep central repositories of documents (memos, progress reports, schedules, budgets, press releases, etc). In fact, meetings become events that take place over days with attendees making contributions via electronic mail or the bulletin board system. This saves time, money and eliminates redundancies while helping each person in a collaborative project perform his or her specific job in a more efficient way.

Using such collaboration tools proves useful for:
  • proposals
  • training keys
  • preparation of meeting materials
  • design and development
  • reviews and reports
Whether company facilities span across continents or just the stairwells of a building, web-based groupware provides tighter workflow for organizations with geographically dispersed workgroups. Communications networks and IT are the tools that make possible this "working together apart."

For information on how to get local help with IT for remote work, contact Telecommute Connecticut at (800) 255-7433 or visit our website: www.telecommuteCT.com

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