Field service teams distributed across various locations face unique challenges on the job, and this is especially true when it comes to collaboration. Simple chat tools such as Slack don’t give the operational visibility necessary for workers on the front lines to prioritize, contextualize, and carry out the actions they need in order to operate with maximum productivity.
Collaboration tools for distributed teams that include the right capabilities and functions can give field service workers full operational visibility instead of small pieces of the larger picture. This means bringing together workflow, team communication, and data into a unified tool that’s customized to suit unique operational processes.
The following are the critical functions collaboration tools should offer distributed teams in order to bring more operational visibility and productivity:
Context Around Remote Communication
Collaboration technology should focus on providing proper communication channels for distributed teams. If workers have the appropriate device, they should be able to access the necessary information. Chat must be capable of one-to-one or one-to-many and should be built around text, photo, video, voice, or key documents. Discussions must be well-documented and searchable for later reference.
Distributed team collaboration channels could also include embedded automated bots that enable additional functions (such as alerts around key events). These channels should be built around particular processes, projects, and tasks so that conversations happen in context and can be linked to operations. For informed remote decision-making, collaboration tools for distributed teams should provide an intuitive digital solution.
The “contextual” part of collaboration technology for distributed teams refers to the fact that these tools are equipped to handle data by definition. The right technology should include the proper API integrations. This allows data from multiple types of Internet of Things devices and legacy systems to incorporate securely and inform the workflow design of these tools.
Data should also trigger alerts or automate tasks. Collaboration tools should be able to use and handle IoT arrays that might otherwise be overwhelming, and using search- and data-processing bots can further this capability.
Notifications and Alerts
For teams operating in urgent and even dangerous conditions, effective, actionable alerts are a must. Distributed team collaboration tools need to be all about fostering discussion and delivering data — and real-time notifications can pave the way.
With smart notification bots, teams can ensure the right information reaches the right people (according to factors like role, group, location, or status) at the right time. As an added bonus, teams can also avoid the hazards of alert fatigue with more pinpointed and meaningful notifications. With well-designed alert systems, teams gain visibility into changing conditions and receive real-time push notifications for relevant problems or hazards.
Field service workers might be in construction, security, logistics, or any other number of industries — but they all have one thing in common: a need for actionable and efficient collaboration tools. The right technology will give workers on the front lines the full operational visibility they need to do their jobs well with remote communication capabilities, seamless data integration, and actionable notifications and alerts. To find out which distributed team collaboration tools are right for your front line workers, read “A Buyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools.”