6 tips for effective digital collaboration

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In every business, team collaboration is vital to performance and success.

Face-to-face collaboration has been exhaustively studied, but when it comes to the digital world, that’s a much newer field of study. We’re still discovering the best ways to work online.

Harvard Business Review and Dropbox partnered to research how the best teams use file-sharing.

With anonymised data from over 400,000 unique university-based users working on half a million separate research projects, these are some of the top users’ best practices for virtual collaboration:

Go small

The average number of people on a project at a top-performing university was 2.3. At the bottom 10%, it was 3.0. As HBR put it, “too many virtual cooks could spoil the research broth”.

Take your time

Projects from the top universities took 172 days on average, compared to 130 days at the bottom end. The projects which were worked on longer also had the most long-lasting impact on their fields.

Repeat collaborations that work

Research teams at top performing universities were more likely to work on more projects together – a sign of unlocking the best team synergies and taking full advantage of their strengths.

Work equally

Based on how often individuals accessed team projects, the best projects were worked on by all members equally. Lower performing teams & projects, however, had fewer members doing all the heavy lifting.

Listen to your institutional memory

When there are more senior team members present on a team, their experience leads them to put in the work to guide the project vision, frame goals & problems, assign tasks successfully and get stronger starts & steadier continuations on projects.

Explore other tools

Organisations that use one collaboration platform are likely to use others. At Digivizer, we use Google Drive for file sharing, Slack for discussion (divided into customer & team channels), and platforms like Jira, Asana & Trello for project management. All of these apps are integrated with each other and we’re constantly upskilling & growing more effective at how we use them.

The inspiration for this story was originally spotted on Harvard Business Review.

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