Five tools for a successful and harmonious group project
One of the most challenging realities of the communications field is navigating group projects. They’re everywhere — the classroom, that exciting internship you scored for the summer and, of course, your future full-time workplace. In this field, teamwork is inevitable and often comprises a major part of your workload.
Below, I have compiled my top five useful tools for successful group work, many of which we use every day in the Pearce Center. Try incorporating these methods into your group projects to promote effective teamwork and collaboration.
Working remotely? Try video conferencing.
While email and text are great methods of communication, they simply can’t beat face-to-face interactions. Actually having a real-time conversation with your group at the beginning of a project is a great way to ensure that everyone is comfortable with their role and that everyone understands the task at hand. Just because your group is unable to meet in person doesn’t mean that you can’t reap the benefits of live communication. Pick a time when everyone is available and use a video conferencing software like Skype or Google Hangouts to make sure all team members are included in the virtual meeting in order to start your project strong.
Try a project management tool like Basecamp.
We use Basecamp, a project management platform, here at the Pearce Center and it is an absolute life-saver. Its features include a communal to-do list and schedule, a message board and an automatic check-in to ensure that everyone is on track. Using Basecamp is a great way to complete group projects because you can see what everyone has been working on and still needs to complete. It gives you an up-to-date idea of where everyone is on their portion of the assignment as well as provides a platform to brainstorm and share ideas without worrying about them getting lost in your email inbox.
Use a shared Google Drive or Box folder.
Keep all important files in a shared Google Drive or Box folder so that everyone can access them. This streamlines your workflow and prevents the headache of not having access to an important document right at the moment you need it. Plus, these platforms are a great way to ensure that your data is never lost through a computer crash or glitch; it’s all backed up in the cloud. Google Drive is particularly useful because it allows multiple people to work on the same document at the same time, making it possible to suggest new ideas and propose revisions instantly.
Incorporate a group messaging platform like Slack or GroupMe.
Apps like Slack and GroupMe are great for group projects because they give you the benefits of texting without cluttering your phone’s message app. All of your professional communications can be kept in one streamlined location that you share with the rest of your team. Bonus benefit: Slack allows you to share files with one another for instant feedback.
Create collaboratively with Canva.
Canva is a great platform for creating graphics and photo edits in a group-work scenario. It has both free and paid options and allows you to quickly and easily create graphics for your project. Most importantly, it’s collaborative: you can share your work with your team members so they can edit it on their own time. Canva lets the whole group work together rather than placing the responsibility for visuals on one person.
While group work can be challenging, it is totally manageable if you have the right tools. Consider trying a few of these out and see how they work for yourself and your team members. Once you find one that sticks, it will become an essential part of your teamwork toolkit. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever worked without them!
By: Taylor Summey