Today enterprises must collaborate more than ever before, given that they have increased their presence across many geographies, teams are cross functional, and employees increasingly work remotely. If they really understand and adopt collaboration, businesses are likely to see cultural shifts shaping the way they function. Richard Branson positions workplace collaboration as a key success factor: “To be successful in business, and in life, you need to connect and collaborate,” he says. Unfortunately, even though companies increasingly need to collaborate, they often fail to do it properly.
Workplace collaboration is when multiple individuals or teams come together to solve a common problem. Collaboration is important because individuals with different skills, perspectives, and thoughts can brainstorm to find innovative solutions and implement their combined ideas. This is important when you consider increasing market competition, which requires a creative, productive workforce. Collaborating also boosts employee morale, especially for teams working virtually. Conversely, a lack of workplace collaboration can indicate that an enterprise isn’t maximizing its potential.
Tech-Driven Evolution of Workplace Collaboration
Digital tools are being employed in the modern workplace to encourage and facilitate collaboration. Today’s workplace has a blended workforce, is becoming more responsive to problems and is less tied down to physical locations. Organizations no longer want to be siloed and fragmented, or have employees in different departments or geographies not communicate and collaborate with one another. They are working hard to break down barriers between teams and this requires adopting new technologies.
Trello, Sharepoint, Basecamp, Slack, CodingTeam, WebEx, GoToMeeting and even good old trusted Google Docs are some of the best collaboration tools available to manage everything from complex projects, collaborative coding, video and audio meetings, to sharing files and tracking projects. All these tools easily integrate with existing apps and software, and work well no matter where employees are located.
This increased collaboration has brought a high level of flexibility in communication that allows co-workers to connect with each other easily. As employees can now connect and communicate no matter where they are, there is more teamwork, mutual understanding, and bonding.
Benefits of Workplace Collaboration:
- Collective Thinking– Teams can work towards a common goal by sharing various perspectives to provide solutions.
- Encourages Knowledge-Sharing – Cross-functional collaboration allows team members to access a broader network of knowledge.
- Supports Project Success – Collaborative project plans and structures are essential right from communication to tracking progress and budget.
- Fosters Creativity and Innovation – Collaboration creates an environment that breeds ideas and innovations.
- Retains Talent – Collaboration fosters a sense of camaraderie and belonging and makes employees feel respected, included, and recognized.
Promoting Collaboration at Work
Integrate collaboration seamlessly
There are better chances of employees collaborating if they can do so organically instead of as an additional task. Collaboration should blend seamlessly with their flow of work. Instead of forcing meetings that interrupt, make it easier for employees to collaborate as they go about their daily work.
Technology can help increase employee collaboration. But don’t rush into buying lots of tools and apps without a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Focus on evaluating collaboration platforms and why you need them, before delving into how to implement them.
Make the office collaborative
Cubicles and closed working spaces impede collaboration. Employees should be allowed to sit in open, accessible layouts and work as a team. Open workspaces allow unscheduled interactions that can surprisingly result in new ideas and better productivity. But there should be some private huddle rooms for focused brainstorming session without interruptions.
Reward but don’t micromanage
Managers must encourage collaboration and define incentives for effective teamwork. At the same time, as you encourage collaboration, don’t micromanage the way employees work together or the opposite might just happen.
Supporting such a collaborative environment in the office should be high on every enterprise’s priority list. If every person on every team is equally committed to success, collaboration is easy to foster and build as a culture. Collaborative teams enhance their capacity to go beyond their comfort zones and take businesses outcomes to new heights. Investing in collaboration, even when the benefits aren’t obvious or immediate, can make a huge difference in the long run.
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