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What Collaboration App Do I Use Now?


Using a video meeting app to work with coworkers
Image: Вадим Пастух -
If you’re like me, when it comes to collaborating with colleagues from home, many of the apps that you seldomly used when in the office have become your lifeline. Videoconferencing, of course, is the prime example, with in-person meetings now taking place via video apps.
While most of my work-from-home (WFH) experience has gone swimmingly, every once in a while an application has been so frustrating to use that I’ve wanted to throw my hands up in defeat — nevermind that this is usually because I’ve been trying to make it do something that I’m not sure it can even do. Such experiences leave me thinking that there has to be a simpler, more intuitive way to do whatever task I was trying to do.
And there usually is. More precisely, there are multitude ways to collaborate and communicate and a variety of applications out there to fit different modes of working. Several of these unique collaboration tools were the focus of a recent article on No Jitter, a WorkSpace Connect sister site, by communications and collaboration analyst Dave Michels. In the article, he explored three applications providing a different way for employees to create emails, check someone’s availability, and determine whether employees are staying productive while working from home. These apps are:
  1. Front — At this point, the most basic tool to communicate with colleagues near and far is the trusted email. However, traditional emails leave little room for collaboration with coworkers. Front is hoping to change that. Its application, also called Front, works with an existing email system and allows team members to review and comment on emails received and then delegates response to a member, Michels explained. For example, this application can be used for large customer services teams where a uniformed response would be needed or for sales teams managing general inquiries, Michels said. Through Front's shared inboxes, workers can also cover for one another when they are out or retrieve an email themselves to move along a project.
  2. Prodoscore — For managers and supervisors, one of the biggest concerns with a primarily WFH workforce is ensuring workers are staying productive. An app like the one from Prodoscore offers a snapshot into employee productivity and can be a helpful tool to check how employees are doing while working from home. This application runs in the background monitoring a user's interactions (email messages, phone calls, chats, etc.). Based on these interactions, it creates a productivity score for managers to review, Michels explained.
  3. Sneek — One professional WFH frustration of mine is not knowing whether someone is at their desk or not. Are they really going to “be right back,” or have they been back for hours but forgot to change their presence status to “available?” While a presence light is right most of the time, it isn't perfect. Sneek is hoping to improve presence reporting. Instead of relying on the green available light, Sneek uses the webcam to take periodic snapshots to show whether a worker is available at their desk or not. From the Sneek app, a worker can then click on a profile to launch a meeting.
Of course, Michels’s recommendations are but a few of the apps targeted at making remote work “more human” and collaborative. Another example comes from video meeting startup Jamm, with its lightweight meeting app (meaning it doesn’t take up your whole desktop) designed for spontaneous meetings, similar to Sneek. Additionally, the app features a communal virtual meeting space where anyone can just drop in at any time and talk to colleagues that are also in the meeting space — an attempt to recreate the office “stop and chat.”
If you’re looking for a familiar twist to collaborating with your team, Workplace from Facebook leverages the familiarity of Facebook’s social media platform. Workplace features group, chat, and live video functions and has a knowledge library where HR can create, store, and share policies. Last month, Facebook also released Messenger Rooms, a standalone product that can support up to 50 video meeting participants with no restrictions on time.
As the new WFH norm further sets in, organizations might realize what they’re doing to enable collaboration among disparately located employees isn’t working, or conversely, working just fine. Applications like the ones listed above and countless others are providing ways for employees to feel connected and allowing them to collaborate in the face of COVID-19. And as we often hear on the No Jitter side, there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to choosing a technology. It’s all dependent on the organization, its culture, and most importantly, the people who are moving the business forward.