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Online collaboration is a great way to work with colleagues without having to be face-to-face. Whether I'm in a remote office, on the road, working from home, or just sitting down the hall, sharing documents and using other collaborative tools online saves time, money, and the environment. The green benefit of this is that if you can collaborate online, it may enable you to commute or travel less, which means lower CO2 emissions. Collaborating online also means that there's less need to print out those shared documents. When you can share edits, track changes, insert comments, and brainstorm without needing to print, there's less paper wasted and a lot of pricey ink saved. As a staff writer and editor of a lot of TechSoup.org's content, I could print reams of paper if I still preferred to use my trusty old "red pen" to edit. Using Google Docs and even basic tracking changes in Microsoft Word and emailing them to others who need to see them saves a lot of messy scribbles. Another major benefit of using a tool like Google Docs is that you can share it with multiple people who can review, suggest changes, make edits, and add their input all at the same time. Google Docs is easy to use and free but I know from experience that you can face resistance from staff and peers when trying to introduce a different tool or program from what they've become accustomed. Read this case study from our pals at TechSoup's MaintainIT Project to learn how some libraries have used Google Docs to save time and money. In the process, they've reduced their impact on the environment. And if you'd like to give Google Docs a whirl, watch this brief online video, Google Docs in Plain English.
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Becky Wiegand is the Webinar Program Manager at TechSoup.org @bajeckabean on Twitter