By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer

Team collaboration is only successful if every individual does their part. This is easy when everyone is in the same room. Persons A, B, and C can each claim responsibility for X, Y, and Z, and they always know how their contribution affects the big picture. If they have questions, need help, or need to get their bearings, their teammates are right there. But today’s teams aren’t always in the same room—let alone the same building or even the same city. To work together successfully, these teams rely on mobile collaboration tools.

Mobile collaboration tools take proximity out of group communication. Team members don’t need to congregate around a desk or sit in a conference room to work together. They use chat apps on-the-go, collaborate on documents at all times of the day, and video conference when face-to-face communication is essential. Every member of the team needs a toolbox of mobile apps they use to contribute meaningfully.

Five types of mobile collaboration tools

Mobile collaboration happens in a variety of different ways and requires diverse mediums to accomplish it. Brainstorming via a chat client is much different from marking up a document, which demands capabilities beyond what a video conferencing app offers.

There are five pillars of collaboration that on-the-go, decentralized teams need to maintain group productivity:

  1. Messaging and chat apps. Easier than talking on the phone, more organized than email, messaging apps are the de-facto communication mode for teams—decentralized or otherwise.
  2. File sharing applications. From text documents to graphics, teams need access to important project collateral to work together. Mobile file sharing apps give them secure access anywhere.
  3. Video conferencing tools. Sometimes there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. When you can’t be in the same place at the same time, video conferencing tools gives teams the visual they need.
  4. Document editing software. Collaboration across tasks requires a way to share and modify documents. Cloud-based editing software enables changes, so everyone can provide consolidated feedback.
  5. Project management platforms. Good project management requires an overview of all tasks and timelines. Teams access mobile project management dashboards to understand the big picture better.

These pillars cover every mode of communication a team might use in-office and adapt it for decentralized work. Instead of congregating around a desk, teams can host a group video chat. No more passing around a printed document for the group to redline; online editing software tracks and organizes changes. More than enabling teams to work remotely, mobile collaboration tools help them work better.

A note about cloud-hosted apps

The best mobile collaboration tools for business aren’t just cross-compatible between devices and operating systems—they’re cloud-hosted. Every person has their own preference between Mac and PC or Android vs. iOS, but the cloud component transcends these preferences. You can’t collaborate without a medium to facilitate communication. That’s the cloud.

The Slack message you send to the group needs to live in the cloud as part of the chain of communication. It’s the same for file storage and project management data. This information doesn’t do any good if it’s stored on a single person’s device or lost in translation due to a poor network connection.

Cloud-hosted apps establish the links between decentralized teams. This way, everyone stays on the same page. Groups spend less time worrying about whether they have the most current version of something and more time focused on the task at hand. The same goes for messaging or video—cloud-hosted apps remove barriers to communication, like software compatibility or device preference. It’s all online, and everyone observes the same standard in the cloud.

Keep the team in constant collaboration

Thanks to mobile collaboration apps, teams working a traditional 9-to-5 are actually at a disadvantage over their decentralized counterparts. They get the benefit of face-to-face, real-time interaction, but that collaboration caps off at eight hours each day.

Consider mobile team collaboration. Person A works from 7-to-3 each day; Person B keeps 9-to-5 hours; and Person C works a 2-to-10 shift. Their hours overlap, which gives them time to work on individual tasks, as well as collaborate in real-time with their teammates. The total scope of their workday: 15 hours—nearly double the in-office team, without adding any extra strain to any single member of the group. Moreover, in this example there’s only nine hours between when the last person stops working and the first person starts, which puts projects on a shorter cycle.

Do mobile collaboration tools work?

There’s a myth that decentralized teams can’t work as effectively as in-house groups. Mobile collaboration tools prove this theory wrong. They not only allow members of a group to work in their own fashion, they enable better synergy and productivity. Ask yourself, if mobile collaboration didn’t work, why are there so many apps, platforms, resources, and technologies devoted to helping decentralized teams stay productive?

Keep reading: 10 Remote Working Tools That Boost Team Collaboration