5 tips for effective real-time collaboration (RTC)

  • When used correctly, RTC tools enable people to connect in real time to solve problems in a collaborative, prompt, effective manner.

  • Training and practice can help employees become more comfortable and natural using RTC tools.

Real-time collaboration (RTC) opens opportunities for peer-to-peer and business-to-customer interaction, especially when people are working together while located in different parts of the country or world. With RTC tools, tasks can be completed in real time, as collaborators can access the same information (such as a document), make changes, view work in progress, or communicate instantly through text or video.

Building an RTC-ready culture takes more than just technology. It takes time, strategy, practice, and experience getting comfortable using RTC tools. These five tips will help your key contributors and outside collaborators embrace the unique etiquette, customs, and challenges of RTC:

1. Practice, practice, practice

Not everyone is a natural collaborator. Training for real-time collaboration should not focus primarily on the technological aspects of submitting a query or accepting an incoming video call—those are mechanical considerations. Instead, training should help users find ways to feel more at ease and natural in a collaborative environment.

Use role-play exercises with peers to help break down barriers and establish a safe environment to practice these skills. Employees with strong customer service backgrounds can serve as mentors to help ease their back-office colleagues into a collaborative mindset.

2. Make collaboration commonplace and accessible

Any technology is easier to embrace and adopt when woven into the everyday workflow. Extending collaboration tools to mobile devices and ensuring they are available outside the corporate firewall are both important to user buy-in. If partners and customers are included in the solution, the authentication process must be straightforward enough so as not to impose unreasonable burdens.

3. Recognize and reward participation

Consider adding gamification concepts to the collaboration platform that recognize and reward participants for participation and positive outcomes. For example, a peer who establishes herself as a strong and readily available authority on a particular topic can be promoted by those she helps, earning status on the collaboration system as a gold-star resource. Employee goals and scorecard metrics should incorporate time spent collaborating with customers and fellow employees, while rewarding positive behavior.

4. Realize that not all collaborators are the same

Even with practice and training, not all collaborators will consider themselves “camera-ready” for video calls at a moment’s notice. Similarly, not everyone is able to express themselves as well in an instant message as they are in a real-time conversation. Let your collaborators identify which communications channels they prefer.

5. Don’t fake it

Use your real-time collaboration platform wisely where it will make a difference. Unpopular but sometimes necessary exercises, such as lengthy all-hands conference calls, can’t be improved just by slapping a digital hand-raising feature. Don’t dilute the concept of collaboration by faking it. When a situation doesn’t call for interactivity, don’t force it.

Real-time collaboration should be an exciting opportunity for employees, customers, and other stakeholders. When implemented correctly, it enables people to connect quickly to solve problems in a prompt, effective manner, instead of waiting for voicemails to be answered or emails to be forwarded.

Keep the RTC experience productive and pressure-free, and watch your best and brightest minds become advocates and valuable participants.

For more information on how to collaborate with co-workers, partners, and customers from nearly any device and place, visit AT&T Unified Communications.


Jason Compton is an internationally published writer and reporter with extensive experience in enterprise technologies, including marketing, sales, service, and collaboration. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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