10 tips for a successful online collaboration space


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This two-pager targets users of UNDP's peer-collaboration platform Teamworks. Teamworks enables users to feature their work and expertise in their profile page, connect to peers within and outside the organization, exchange experiences and opinions in discussion forums and blogs, and share bookmarks and files within secure collaboration spaces - internally, across the UN and with external partners.

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10 tips for a successful online collaboration space

  1. 1. 10 indispensable tips for a Successful Teamworks Space 1 Launch an appealing Space You are the host of the party. Think of inviting people over to dinner – you wouldn’t want to welcome anyone into an unfurnished house. So don’t launch an empty space - populate your Space with interesting content before launching. You can also ask a few colleagues to join and post questions and content prior to the launch. Teamworks offers many options to customize the look & feel of a space, open the Teamworks Sitemap and check the spaces in the list of Teamworks good examples to get inspirations. Bonus Tip Be sure that potential 2 contributors are not put off by the platform. A Be a role model and welcome newcomers number of colleagues have difficulties Lead by example, upload a picture to your Teamworks profile and add relevant navigating the platform. information about yourself to your profile. Open your Teamworks Dashboard every Ask your members how morning and check the ‘Activity Feed’: anyone joining your space will show up there. Clickcomfortable they are. You on their name, leave a short welcome message on their wall and encourage them to might not be able to provide one-on-one introduce themselves. And specify what you expect from them in your space. training but it’s a good 3 idea to have a list of all Teamworks training Set the tone manuals ready and to Try to stay away from the typical technical jargon so often used in the development know the Teamworkstraining providers in your context. How many colleagues are really going to be interested in a jargon and acronym- region or office. It is also filled posts? When contributing something, don’t assume prior knowledge of acronyms possible to add content via Email, be sure you and make sure your content is to the point and easy to understand even for a non-know how this works and specialist audience. Formulate your posts as friendly and authentic as possible, while of you can explain this to course, staying professional. Remember, if you as a host are enjoying the interactions in colleagues in low- bandwidth duty stations. the space, then your members will as well. And people tend to trust colleagues who reveal Teamworks is not a something personal about themselves more than those who do not. The balance between perfect platform but it is professional and personal information will naturally depend on your audience and the aim changing constantly and will further improve over of the space. Discuss this with colleagues prior to launching it. time. 4 Get busy behind the scenes Think about your target audience and where they convene; online and offline. Go where your future members are and promote your space. Teamworks will not replace e-mails, at least not anytime soon. So use email cautiously for promotion and remind people to go back to the site after they have joined. Also think about influential and knowledgeable colleagues that could draw more attention and people to your space. Contact and invite them, but be clear in communicating your objectives and expectations. 5 Communicate the topics and objectives clearly Busy colleagues might be put off by generic invitations such as “visit our space and share your lessons.” When you promote your space on Teamworks, through emails, at workshops and through other channels, state clearly what it is about and what’s in it for the one joining. For example: “In the next 2 weeks, we will discuss the topic of biodiversity
  2. 2. 10 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TEAMWORKS SPACE PAGE 2 monitoring and how we can involve local communities in the process. We are keen to collect practical examples from past projects. At the end of the discussion, we will produce a short summary of the key insights which will be shared with the whole community.” Everyone has to understand: what’s in it for me? 6 Make participation easy If space members don’t know what they should do or how they can contribute, they won’t participate. Clarify what you expect from members, formulate it in an actionable way and post it at the top of the space and in your promotion messages. For example, instead of saying “browse this space and share your thoughts,” encourage people to perform a specific action i.e. “do you have experience with post-earthquake reconstruction? Please think about your experiences and identify three top insights that could be relevant for colleagues. Go to the site and share them in the discussion forum.” It’s also important to promote low- engagement tools such as the “Recommend” button and the cross-posting function to engage space members who are hesitant to contribute to discussions. 7 Recognize contributions Everyone likes to be recognized and, ideally, rewarded; especially if the work is voluntary. You can highlight top contributors in your space every month, for example in a dedicated space block. Many space owners develop brief newsletters in which they highlight updates and thank the contributors personally. Also, monitor your space and add ‘thank you for your contributions’ comments to newly added content; provided, of course, it’s relevant. 8 Identify and nurture your ‘power users’ Some colleagues have an affinity for social collaboration and get involved from the start. You should be able to spot your power users quickly. Acknowledge their contributions, also in their other networks and Teamworks spaces and spotlight their profiles. Reach out to them via email, phone, Skype or in person and ask them every now and then to do specific tasks. Ideally, power users do the talking on your behalf. 9 Lurkers need love too Most space members will remain silent and inactive. That’s normal, generally most online communities have 1% power users, 9% who comment, post links and participate every now and then and 90% lurkers: those who watch and learn. Treat these lurkers as vital members of your space, provide them with timely, relevant – but most of all, engaging – content. To engage lurkers and power users alike, create a buzz every now and then by setting up a webinar, posting a video of an engaging speaker or creating a poll or competition. Here is a good example for user engagement and recognition. 10 Engage with other Spaces and Networks Screen Teamworks for spaces similar to your topic, contact the space owner and discuss how you can link to each other and cross-post content. There are also many online external communities on development topics as well as development blogs. Go out and comment on blogs and discussions of others and include links to your space (if they are open to external users). The more you do this, the more you will receive comments to your content and your space.