It seems like everyday there is a new app that promises to make your life a little bit easier, your workplace more productive or help you do your job "better." It always seems like we are attracted to the "shiny new thing," but here are a few technologies that are tried and true.
Collaboration can happen in person or online, and tools that contribute to bringing people together get a gold star in my book. While face-to-face time is critical and should be used whenever possible, modern businesses often require workers to travel frequently and work in satellite offices or at home. Technologies need to successfully blend our physical and virtual worlds. They also have to be easy to use as complex or confusing technologies can be discouraging and disruptive.
Below is a list of a few of my favorite technologies to use when collaborating in the modern workplace. These all have two things in common: they are easy to use and help me collaborate and share ideas faster than without:
1. Evernote allows you to take the energy from a room or meeting and save it for later. You can capture notes that were handwritten, record audio, store documents and more. Evernote organizes a batch of assets so they never get lost which is extremely helpful when working on large-scale projects.
2. Furniture, for those in the office or visiting, can play a major role in successful collaboration. Some of my favorite companies include Herman Miller, Haworth, and Allsteel, all of which create workplace environments that give employees the ability to work together efficiently. You can read more about them and a few other companies in my NeoCon 2013 recap.
3. IdeaPaint helps bring my meetings to life. In a nutshell, IdeaPaint turns virtually any smooth surface into a dry erase canvas and transforms any space into the environment people need to create and fully explore big ideas. It gets people out of their seats collaborating with one another and infuses energy into meetings.
4. Google Drive, a suite of free cloud-based tools, successfully blends physical and virtual worlds for all employees. Drive gives you the ability to create and share your work online, and access and edit your documents from anywhere. Google Hangout allows you to virtually "meet up" with your peers having face to face conversations unhindered by distance. And, Google Talk, or G Chat as many of us refer to it, is a simple instant messaging tool that is helpful for those quick exchanges between co-workers.
5. DropBox is a dream when it comes to working on project-based initiatives. It eliminates the need for FTP sites and mega attachments that can crash your computer, which is extremely helpful for designers.
6. Social Media gives you access to hundreds or even thousands of friends and their opinions. Crowdsourcing ideas via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is an easy way to float an idea and get quick, if not instant, feedback. Or, sometimes you just need a simple recommendation; chances are your friends will know of a solution.
7. Join.Me allows you to share your screen instantly with whoever you like. Whether it's showing a rough cut of project or design plan, those that you choose to share your screen with can view it on their computers, tablets and mobile phones.
As you can see, my list of favorites blends high-tech and low-tech technologies but they are all simple and get the job done. If you haven't tried any of the tools above I highly recommend that you do and if you feel like sharing some of your favorites, please comment below -- I would love hear about them!