Collaboration tips cleaning

Published on April 3rd, 2012 | by Grace Kang

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Workspaces

April brings more than just jokes and spring showers… It’s time to spring clean your workspaces back into shape.

Collaboration spring cleaning I’m going to borrow an analogy Susan from our CS team made in today’s Get Connected webinar on Spring Cleaning. A workspace can be alot like an office kitchen. People come in and out, mind their business, and eventually it can become a mess if someone doesn’t tidy up and then establish some rules to actually keep it that way. Getting it clean is half the battle – keeping it clean is the hard part.

Here are some actionable tips on how to spring clean your workspaces today.

Update your profile

The average Facebook user changes his or her profile up to 18 times a year. We’re not suggesting you do that, but if it’s been over a year since your last avatar change, or status update, it’s been too long.

Central Desktop profiles are one of the most social elements of CD. Especially when it comes to remote teams, offices and inter departmental relationships, they help others put a face behind your name. Try treating your CD profile like your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date, so team members can log onto the company directory and directly call, email or IM you directly when they’re working offsite or via a mobile device.

Tip: Create custom fields that allow individuals to highlight specific achievements, certifications and skills. When’s the last time you posted a status update, looking for an expert in X, Y or Z? Then, you can simply run a search for the skillset you’re looking for and voilá . You’ve found the scrum/design/copywriting guru you need for tomorrow’s deadline.

Set a governance plan

A governance plan sets some rules to guide the development and use of the system. Basically, you can’t hand your users a workspace and expect it to develop into a useful tool on its own. Here are a couple of policies we suggest:

Workspace access policy – Establish clear admin(s) of each workspace. Review internal and external members. Team members and clients come and go, so review members and admin rights periodically.

Set up a Files and Folders policy– Without standardization, users get confused by the different layouts and navigation across workspaces, which can lead to lower adoption rates.  The solution here is to try to use a common workspace template to establish consistency and familiarity. You can also establish a file naming schema for better organization.Collaboration File Naming Best Practices

  • Name your files with the least common denominator in front. That way, truncated search results will still always display the most identifiable/unique part of your document title.
  • Try not to repeat tags that already exist in the title, since the keywords will trigger in search anyway. Reserve your tags for unique identifiers!
  • CD tags are predictive. To avoid creating tags for everything under the sun, admins can seed tags in the workspace beforehand, and allow users to “select” vs “create”.
  • Create an “end of project” policy. Ask yourself, what happens to the workspace after project completion? At which point is the project truly over and ready to be archived? Where will the completed project reside (in the archives, or in a downloaded back up)? Share the answers to these rules in your guidelines.
  • Post your guidelines somewhere public, such as the intranet.

Give your workspace a makeover

Our customers have done pretty amazing things with custom style templates to match their corporate look and feel (we’re in the midst of creating a gallery to showcase some of the best). Just like a haircut, the change doesn’t have to be drastic to make a difference.

Here are a couple of things you can do to quickly update your look. (Note: some require basic HTML/CSS knowledge)

  1. Create a custom banner  (for a good example, check out our Super Bowl collaboration workspace)
  2. Update fonts and colors
  3. Create a sidebar with links that direct to other applications or other parts of the site
  4. Create a workspace background. You don’t even need Photoshop skills – just use this neat background pattern maker from Sergii on our Engineering team.

Clear out overdue tasks and milestones

This one’s for all the taskmasters out there.

Projects and plans get restructured all the time. Unfortunately, some of the associated tasks never get cleared out. A workmate of mine has an overdue task from day 1 that she now uses to remember how many days it’s been since she joined the team.

Aside from being annoying, though, those lingering tasks are also hiding new, timely tasks from your vision. Dashboard tasks are displayed chronologically, so your overdue tasks are likely occupying prime dashboard real estate and pushing new ones to the bottom and out of your view.

The solution? Pick a threshold and decide at which point overdue tasks should stop being tracked. Either mark it as complete, or remove the due date. Removing the due date will relocate the tasks to the bottom of the list, marked as incomplete for the day you (here’s to hoping) finally get them done.

Archive folders and workspaces

Last but not least, clear out the dead weight. Archiving folders and workspaces is a great way to hide projects you no longer need from cluttering up your nav and view. We find that some of our clients are hesitant to archive because they’re concerned the workspaces “won’t come back.” Admins can always access archived items and folders in the archive library and can reactivate them at anytime. Archived items will also always appear in search results. So go ahead, archive away.

Tip: A simple way to decide which workspaces to archive is to run a workspace usage report.  You can see which workspaces are active vs dormant at a single glance. This report can also help you improve usage of underused (but important) workspaces.

Some last bits of advice:

  • Tabs are prime real estate. One of biggest causes of resistance from new users is complexity. Present them with a nav that’s cluttered or overwhelming and they’ll probably refuse to adopt. We recommend keeping the number of tabs at seven or less (this fits in all screen resolutions nicely as well.) Dropdowns come in extremely useful here when simplifying that nav structure.
  •  Take advantage of sidebars for cross-workspace referencing. The All My Workspaces and Files and Discussions blocks work well because they allow you to jump easily from workspace to workspace, and they persist across multiple tabs. Here’s where using a common workspace template comes in handy.

We covered the above and more in today’s Get Connected: Spring Cleaning webinar. You can view the slides below or view the recording if you missed it. And if you have any questions or best practices to share, give us a shout below!


About the Author

Grace Kang

heads up search and social media here at Central Desktop. She moderates our social accounts to make sure our community is always up to date with the latest Central Desktop news, contests, and more. In her spare time, Grace can be found with her head buried in a book or experimenting with the latest online marketing tools.



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