Collaboration tools have only become more prevalent in our age of remote or hybrid work, as they enable employees, no matter where they are in the world, to work together on the same asset. This improves efficiencies within the workflow of a small and medium business (SMB) and makes it more enjoyable for employees to work. As a result, Gartner tracked nearly 80 percent of workers using collaboration tools in 2021, up from just over half of workers in 2019.
There are several types of collaboration tools that an employee at an SMB may look to use. For instance, video collaboration tools like Zoom or Ring Central can help employees in different locations feel connected or even with customers. Shared document tools, like Google Docs or Microsoft Sharepoint, can also help employees collaborate on the same document no matter where they are in the world.
However, with the rise of collaboration tools comes new potential risk, from simple mistakes to even more significant issues. SMBs looking to adopt collaboration tools in their business or to more effectively leverage the ones they have should consider how they can mitigate these risks to receive the highest benefit from the solutions possible. Here are a few for an SMB to consider:
Employee error. One of the most common errors with employee collaboration tools is the simplest one known to man (or woman): human error. With many employees working in the same document, it can be easy to overwrite another employee’s work or accidentally delete something important. One way that an SMB can help counteract this is to conduct employee training on how to use the software properly, avoiding any potential issues.
Too much access. As with any documentation, it is important to consider who has access privileges to those documents. However, often with collaboration tools, the default is a higher level of access than should ordinarily be allowed out of convenience. SMBs should take the time to ensure that they are only giving employees access to the files and folders they need, nothing more —to ensure security and compliance. Access considerations should also extend to third-party vendors, should they need to access these documents.
Document lifespan. While a document on your laptop may not be stored forever, one in the cloud can live a lifespan far beyond its natural use. This is important for two reasons. First, an ever-growing amount of documents, without proper culling, can increase storage costs over time. A larger document pool can also pose a larger attack surface for cyber attackers.
While these risks might be intimidating, SMBs can benefit significantly from adopting collaboration tools to improve efficiencies across their business and make it easier for employees to do their work. By taking the time to ensure they are mitigating any negative consequences, they can realize the full potential of collaboration tools for many years to come.