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In 2010, TechSoup's GreenTech initiative held a travel reduction campaign that we called our TeleGreen Your Work. It turned out to be a lame name, but we did compile some pretty useful information.
I liked our 10 technology tips to help you reduce your need to travel, and also our travel reduction tools we compiled. This updated blog post from the campaign explores some ways to increase online collaboration and also reduce travel and work efficiency. Online collaboration is one of these generic terms that seems to lose meaning the more people use it.
From a GreenTech perspective, we mean something specific: a succession of online sessions over time that allow people to communicate and work together on long-term or shared projects, often by developing common work-plans, documents, presentations, meeting notes, and other work products that all participants can use whenever and wherever they want.
The environmental impact of working collaboratively online is to reduce travel. For example, for every short-haul round trip on an airplane (for example, New York to Chicago or Frankfurt to London) you don't take, you'll save the environment around one half of a metric ton of CO2.
That's equivalent to 6 percent of the CO2 emitted from the electricity use of an average home per year. That doesn't include the hassle and expense of getting to and from the airports, getting through the airports, hotel expenses, and parking, for example.
The easiest way to see what online collaboration is all about is to check out some of the new, free cloud computing services that are out there. Cloud computing basically means services you use over the Internet like Google Apps, Microsoft Office Web Apps, Live Documents, or One Hub rather than installing software and housing the document or information in-house.
All of the tools mentioned allow you to do things like store and share documents, calendars, project management schedules, and presentations online at no or low cost. This software as a service model of computing has the added environmental and budgetary benefit of needing a less robust computer system, servers, and installed software to host these applications. See a good deal more about the new cloud computing online services and other ways of working collaboratively in the TechSoup article: A Few Good Tools for Sharing Files with Distributed Groups.
Huddle: Huddle is a web-based content management and project collaboration tool that shares files, sets deadlines, assign tasks, centralizes feedback, does email alerts to project members, and centralizes calendaring. It is an essential tool for running projects that involves multiple people.
Because it is cloud-based it is available to everyone in a workgroup regardless of where they are. It is classic online collaboration. It is available to eligible organizations for a $99 admin fee.
If you want added features and the added security of not having your collaborative work online and hosted by Google or Yahoo, TechSoup has some useful software tools like Microsoft Lync Server.
This software is essentially an extension of Microsoft Office. It has an array of features, which include instant messaging, phone conferencing, desktop sharing, and video conferencing. The real advantage of using MS Communicator is that you can see who is on your computer network and you can get a hold of them in a variety of ways. The TechSoup admin fee for eligible nonprofits and libraries is $40.00 plus $2 per user license.
Microsoft SharePoint Server: this application is classic online collaboration software that uses the Internet to allow team members, regardless of location, to share files, participate in online discussions or chats, plan meetings, and record team meetings.
It also has a calendar tool to build a shared project schedule and track important project dates and milestones. It is currently available for nonprofits and libraries at an admin fee of $265 plus $9 per user license.
Whether you have a home-based office or multiple offices around the world, online collaboration can help make your project teams more productive in addition to reducing your travel carbon footprint.
Learn more about cloud computing for your nonprofit or library on TechSoup's cloud page.
I think it’s absolute true that Online Collaboration has become such a generic term that is hard for organizations to find what works for them best. As there seems to be an abundance of choices as far as online collaboration goes, we have to get down to basics. Let´s not just talk about platforms where you can chat and exchange files and information….
@ Lumoflow we take it to the next level. We believe in providing a comprehensive solution that focuses on sharing ideas and transforming them constantly into new innovations, while keeping teams and management connected. So… a collaborative network that holds many features under one umbrella.
We believe in building a sense of community, engaging people, becoming co-creative, and having commitment to your business.
Check us out @ www.lumoflow.com !
Thanks for your comment. Does Lumoflow offer any packages or discounts specifically directed to nonprofits or public libraries? I've not heard of your product before.
Great Article. Certainly, use of online collaboration tools such as WebEx, gomeetnow, gotomeeting etc. or even deploying on premise online collaboration appliance such as RHUB appliances is transforming the way in which companies conduct businesses. More and more organizations, companies, colleges etc. are adopting desktop conferencing technology on order to increase business efficiency, more client interaction, reduce travel costs etc. www.rhubcom.com