Benefits of cloud collaboration

Now that the age of flexible work is officially here, cloud adoption is a necessity rather than a choice. Without the cloud, it's challenging to manage your people working remotely. And now that 59% of U.S. workers who can work from home do so at least a few days a week, if you aren't using cloud collaboration, you're likely facing high losses in productivity.

Cloud platforms help in-person teams and the growing number of remote workers collaborate

Cloud collaboration platforms give remote teams access to your content on demand, enabling team members to work together on the same tasks even when they're spread across the globe. These platforms also help your in-person teams, thanks to helpful features like project tracking and digital whiteboards.

Cloud collaboration tools are built for getting work done anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Support for remote teams

Remote teams can use the cloud to stay up to date

Without access to different cloud-based communication tools, remote teamwork is extremely challenging. Email communication is not very efficient, and can lead to lengthy conversations that eat up time otherwise spent doing core work. Emailing files around also creates file-versioning issues and confusion.

Working in the cloud makes connecting remote workers smoother and more efficient. The cloud allows people to work synchronously or asynchronously, helping them stay involved and up to date wherever they are.

That's why cloud collaboration is essential for future-proofing your business. If a crisis similar to the COVID-19 pandemic were to shut down your in-person operations in the future, the cloud would ensure your people could still access what they need so you could keep business running as usual. But the cloud is not just important when things go wrong.

Real-time file updates

Live versioning in the cloud lets teams work together at the same time, no matter where people are

Tracking document changes using traditional office programs is complicated at best and impossible at worst. While desktop applications like Microsoft Word have added features like comments, annotations, and revision tracking, sharing these marked-up documents using traditional methods like email can cause confusion and version-tracking issues.

Cloud collaboration tools keep all your files in one centralized place and updated in real time — even when multiple people are working together on the same document. Live versioning eliminates any confusion about which revision of the document is the most recent.

Using cloud collaboration software, team members can see who's editing the document, chat with other participants using group chat features, and leave annotations and comments for their team members to evaluate later. These features keep everyone on the same page so progress stays consistent.

Increased team engagement

Cloud collaboration tools keep remote teams involved and engaged

Feeling isolated and lonely is one of the most significant issues remote workers face. And when reaching out to co-workers is more complicated than it needs to be, it's hard to stay engaged. Cloud collaboration tools eliminate these barriers by making it easier to check in and share input frequently with others in an organization.

Cloud-based communication channels like instant messaging and video conferencing platforms help build a sense of community and belonging among remote team members, improving engagement and retention rates. When people feel comfortable with their co-workers, they tend to share their ideas more, which can also lead to innovation.

Improving team engagement through cloud collaboration can also eliminate risk factors like shadow IT — the unauthorized use of technological solutions by team members.

People typically turn to shadow IT solutions because they feel dissatisfied with IT-approved tools. While using shadow IT can improve an individual's workflow, it can introduce unpredictable cybersecurity risks into your organization, like:

  • Data loss
  • Lack of visibility and control
  • Unexpected costs
  • System inefficiencies
  • Expanded attack surfaces
  • Noncompliance with industry regulations

You can get ahead of shadow IT by adopting the cloud tools your people want to use. Cloud-based collaboration apps give everyone in your organization the opportunity to participate and share their input with easy access to critical information and resources. You can also use these tools to check in on your team's activity and make sure team members are only using IT-approved programs.

Improved organization

Consolidate your files in the cloud to enhance organization for remote and in-person teams

Teams and individual workers may create organizational systems for their own files. But this can lead to the creation of data silos, which are isolated collections of data that are incompatible with your organization's other data sets. For example, if marketing uses one technology platform and sales uses another, it becomes difficult for the two teams to share information.

Left unchecked, data silos can lead to unplanned storage costs and inaccurate company information. This potential is what makes a thorough data governance strategy so important.

Working in the cloud consolidates all your files into one easy-to-access system, which makes it easier to develop effective file-organization strategies and improve efficiency. The cloud also enables increased visibility into your files, so you can easily keep tabs on who's accessing what and when.

Better organization enables better data security. Cloud applications save document log files and revision history, so your files are protected from natural disasters and other emergencies that could wipe out data stored on traditional systems. Cloud collaboration tools let you manage your team members' access to specific documents using customized identity and access management (IAM) controls.

Easy access to larger files

Use the cloud to easily exchanges large files throughout your organization

Accessibility is one of the top cloud advantages. Rather than relying on slow legacy processes to share large files, the cloud cuts out the middle steps and allows team members to access data on their own.

Most email servers can only handle up to 50 MB per email, which makes it hard to share large files like audio and video. Traditionally, you'd need to turn to offline solutions to share large files — for example, move the file to an external drive and give that drive to the recipient in person.

Cloud computing solutions let you upload and share all kinds of files of all sizes to the cloud. Your people can access these items directly by using your cloud drive. Many solutions also enable you to share file links to everyone in your organization to invite your team members to edit specific documents.

Embrace BYOD

Bring-your-own-device polices are easier to implement with the cloud

It'd be an understatement to say that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are popular — in 2021, 83% of U.S. companies had some kind of BYOD arrangement in place. A BYOD policy allows your people to use their personal devices for work. These devices may include laptops, tablets, smartphones, or any other IT-approved device that helps people get work done.

Some of the top advantages of having a BYOD policy include:

  • Increased productivity: People are familiar with the ins and outs of their personal devices, meaning they can get work done quicker than they would with company technology
  • Reduced operating costs: Letting people bring their own devices eliminates the need to buy new tech and infrastructure, so your IT department can allocate funds elsewhere
  • Simplified remote work: BYOD policies empower your people to work from anywhere using their own devices
  • Access to new technology: People are attached to their personal devices, so they're more likely to keep them up to date — as a result, your people can use new, innovative features to improve work quality and efficiency

Cloud collaboration software makes BYOD policies possible by letting you use any internet-connected device to access all your work-related files and data without having to hardwire it to the enterprise network. You can also use cloud-based performance monitoring software to ensure people are staying on task while using their own devices.

A reliable cloud service provider (CSP) will provide advanced security controls, so you can have peace of mind knowing your information and people are protected even when they're out of the office.

Storage that grows with your business

The cloud is scalable with your organization, so you only pay for the storage you need

When your business grows, you'll inevitably need to make some IT changes. Legacy infrastructure is expensive to purchase and maintain, and often provides too much storage space for what your company actually needs. Cloud services, on the other hand, are highly scalable. You can adjust your cloud storage plan any time your company's needs change, so you're never paying for more storage than you actually use.

This scalability is possible thanks to virtualization, the foundation of the cloud. Unlike physical devices, virtual services are flexible — you can easily scale resources and performance as you wish, when you wish. When you take on new team members or expand departments, the cloud enables you to scale your plan accordingly.

Tips for successful cloud collaboration

Follow these tips to set your teams up for success in the cloud

Investing in new IT solutions is a big decision. You need to make sure your chosen tool works for your organization, and you also need to ensure your people use it correctly. Here are some cloud collaboration best practices.

Stay organized

Use straightforward organization systems and templates to keep your teams organized in the cloud

Organization is essential for cloud collaboration to work. It keeps everyone in your company on the same page. Having a cloud-based shared drive for everyone on your team lets you work from any location without losing productivity.

There are three key things to remember when creating an organizational system for your shared drive:

  1. Easy storage: A simple, straightforward naming and organization process prevents inconsistencies
  2. Easy location: A well-thought-out organization system makes it easy for your people to Use straightforward organization systems and templates to keep your teams organized in the cloudfind the documents they need, saving time and effort
  3. Easy reuse: Making templates easy to find and use is essential for increasing work efficiency

Good organization extends to people, too. It can be difficult to maintain engagement and effective collaboration when your team members all understand the assignment differently. Cloud-based video conferencing platforms provide opportunities to gather your team members and bring everyone's focus back to the big picture.

Use a centralized communication system

Centralize your communication methods in the cloud to streamline collaboration

It's important to offer your remote teams multiple communication channels, because it allows for more natural communication. You might provide video conferencing, instant messaging, and email, which are all cloud-based.

That said, even if they're all in the cloud, it can be complicated to manage several different communication channels, especially when they're separate applications.

With cloud collaboration tools, you can track discussions, invite new team members to the conversation, and document project progress without having to constantly switch between apps. Software integrations with various communication platforms unite all your conversations and work under one roof, which is essential for organization and efficiency.

Understand when to share internally vs. externally

Use the cloud to collaborate externally with partners and customers

Throughout this article, we've specifically discussed internal collaboration, which is essential for managing productive, successful teams.

However, collaborating with parties outside of the organization is also essential for doing business. Examples of external collaborators include:

  1. Business partners
  2. Vendors
  3. Suppliers
  4. Contractors
  5. Customers and end users

If you needed information about incoming shipments, for example, you'd want access to your suppliers' shipment history, which they might store on their cloud drive. Understanding which situations call for external sharing and which ones should remain within your organization is critical for getting work done.

The cloud allows you to easily share files with your external partners as well as your internal departments. With identity and access management (IAM) controls, you can grant authorized third parties access to your cloud drives and tools. Enabling external sharing can help prevent risks like shadow IT, but you'll need to use your cloud software's security controls to ensure your data is completely safe. That's why it's so important to choose a CSP that offers advanced cybersecurity features.

Know when to use visual vs. text-based collaboration

Leverage visual cloud-based tools like digital whiteboards to enhance collaboration

Text-based collaboration is great for answering quick questions and getting messages across to your team. However, it can be easy to misinterpret emails or direct messages, especially for remote workers.

Digital whiteboards are a helpful tool for virtual collaboration because they let you interact with ideas in ways the standard text-based tool or PowerPoint slide can't.

Visual collaboration tools are better for discussing complex topics in live work sessions, like workshops or brainstorming sessions. When all your team members can work together on the same digital whiteboard in real time, they can engage in real collaboration.

These applications bring helpful visualization techniques and tools like whiteboards, Kanban boards, and storyboards to the virtual space, making it easier to engage team members and ensure everyone sees the big picture.

While virtual meetings are still a long way from face-to-face interaction, tools like digital whiteboards let you host virtual workshops and creative sessions that are just as productive. Features like sticky notes and diagrams allow team members to bounce ideas off each other, which can lead to greater insights and innovation. You can even attach digital media like videos and images to your board, making this tool useful for marketing and media organizations to get the ideas flowing remotely and in person.

Train your people

Teach your team members how to use cloud-based collaboration tools effectively

Once you've chosen your collaboration software, the best way to ensure great results is to give your team the tools and training they need to use this software successfully and efficiently.

Training everyone in your organization on your new software before and during implementation is key. After using your solution for a few months to a year, you could establish an ongoing training program to quickly bring everyone up to speed any time there's a major update or you upgrade to new features. This way, your organization can maintain high productivity even when your tech changes.

It may also be beneficial for your organization to create a group of power users or internal champions — team members who are experts at using the tool and can be their co-workers' first resource for answers and assistance.

Discover the power of the Content Cloud

With a single secure platform for all your content, Box enables you to manage the entire content lifecycle: file creation, co-editing, sharing, e-signature, classification, retention, and so much more. We make it easy for you to collaborate on content with anyone, both inside and outside your organization. Frictionless, enterprise-grade security and compliance are built into our DNA, so you get total peace of mind that your content is protected. And with 1,500+ seamless integrations — as well as a range of native capabilities, like Box Sign — the Content Cloud provides a single content layer that ensures your teams can work the way they want.

The Content Cloud is a game changer for the entire organization, streamlining workflows and boosting productivity across every team. Contact us today, and explore what you can do with Box.

Enhance team-wide collaboration with the cloud

**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blogpost is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.