How to improve collaboration in the workplace?
Whether you are investing in the right tools or still weighing up your options, there are a few ways you can improve the collaborative experience for your employees.
1. Communicate regularly with coworkers
Communication is vital for an effective collaborative work environment; it allows members to interact and feed off each other’s knowledge, make the best decision, and stimulates employee work engagement while avoiding the dangers of duplicative work.
Internal communications tools come in handy. If your team can video call and instant-message each other from the same app, there is a higher chance that they will communicate quickly when something comes up. Solutions like Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Google Workplace can be helpful.
Engaged employees meet regularly as teams to plan work, review progress on specific projects, solve problems, and make decisions to advance with the company goals and objectives.
Relevant insight: "Companies that promote collaboration and communication at work have been linked to reducing employee turnover rates by 50%. - Zippia"
2. Facilitate team-building activities
Team-building activities encourage employees to interact and associate with each other for better team engagement; this offers members a space to develop more profound communications, which will lead to more efficient collaboration.
Leadership tips to get stronger teamwork among your peers:
To help foster a sense of ownership and engagement within the team, actively involve all team members in the activities. Encourage them to contribute their ideas, opinions, and skills in situations such as following:
- Encourage collaboration across departments to solve problems by themselves without going through the managers with their challenges
- Host weekly team meetings to keep everyone aware of the ongoing work and keep the coworkers accountable
- Allow employees to have informal chats and forge better relationships
- Brainstorming the business strategy for the coming quarter together
- Use project management software to create transparency
- Encourage team members to socialize outside of work
- Have coffee with the direct reports and coworkers.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
3. Create a collaborative work environment
It is not enough for teams to work together to achieve practical collaborative work; Managers must adapt the environment or workplace for employees to engage. Some of these premises adaptations involve:
- more open spaces,
- minimizing hierarchical barriers,
- installing employee talking stations, or
- creating spaces where colleagues from different teams/departments meet randomly (think about a cafeteria, a lounge place, or a playroom).
Tip: If you want to create a positive work environment, we offer a guide with the practices, the elements and examples that you need to follow.
4. Support and track employee growth
Workers need goals and opportunities to stay engaged and focused on their roles. It is vital to ensure every team member knows how they could progress and how they might seize growth opportunities. If workers know what they are working towards, they will play an active role in day-to-day collaborations and encourage others to do the same.
If you're looking for efficient employee development ideas, then consider implementing the following 5 methods:
- Mentoring opportunities
- Coaching opportunities
- Professional training
- Job/task rotations
5. Lead your team by example
Team leaders must cooperate with others. Set up a time for one-on-one dialogues, allowing your team members to make requests and ask for support with task management. Listen carefully to each request and avoid promises unless you know you can keep them. It is more important for your team members to trust you than for you to overpromise and underdeliver.
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." - Henry Ford
6. Use collaboration tools to create bridges
Researching and choosing the right collaboration tool, platform, or system for your business needs is crucial. Once you have the right tools and apps in place, daily collaborations become a habit. You’ll see significant improvements in your team’s productivity and general morale.
Among the best cloud collaborations tools for small and mid-sized businesses:
- Google Workspace (Formerly G Suite) - for documents and file sharing
- Microsoft Outlook 365 - for emails
- Zoom - for remote calls and meetings
- Slack - for instant communications
- Asana - for project management
- Trello - for tasks management
- LeaveBoard - for absence management.
7. Build a culture that encourages employee feedback and input
By organizing regular team meetings or surveys, where employees can voice their ideas and concerns you encourage team-members input. Additionally, managers can create opportunities for employees to work together on projects or tasks, which helps to build relationships and create collaborative and efficient teams.
Relevant resources for managers:
What is the meaning and definition of collaboration?
Collaboration among employees means bringing together ideas, points of view, and experiences through brainstorming and sharing concepts, dividing the work fairly, and guiding people towards a shared purpose.
There are two key types of collaboration: synchronous and asynchronous.
Synchronous collaboration happens when team members work together on projects in real-time via collaboration tools such as video chat, instant messaging, and other online meetings.
Asynchronous means conversations between colleagues might not necessarily happen at the same time. Teams with an asynchronous work style might lean more on email communications. For example, a workforce across various time zones or those working different time shifts might use more asynchronous collaboration methods.
In most cases, organizations use a balance of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. It is vital to set boundaries on when more synchronous collaboration might occur, particularly if you have remote employees or flexible hours; everyone needs a work-life balance.
Likewise, synchronous collaboration can impact team productivity. Rather than waiting for an email response, team members can now discuss projects instantly and then get on with what they need to do. This synchronous collaboration method helps with team efficiency and morale and mitigates feelings of isolation, which many employees suffered during the pandemic.
Why is collaboration important?
The basis of collaboration work is that employees work as equals. As most companies offer a hierarchical system, team collaboration lines up with the more democratic structure of the modern workplace - where the traditional question "who do you work for?" has been replaced by "who do you work with?".
As members work collectively, every person has the opportunity to share their knowledge, enabling teams to make a more precise decision to reach their common goal.
So how exactly can team collaboration make work better? Here are five ways.
1. Stimulates employee engagement
Engaged employees are more productive, better performers, and more likely to stay with organizations. Working together plays a significant role in engagement - people often want to use their skills to work things through together. Research shows workers are up to 20% more satisfied when they have the tools to collaborate.
Enabling members to feel a sense of belonging and a positive career path keep employees motivated at work, thus reducing employee turnover.
2. Boosts workforce productivity
A Deloitte report shows employees work 15% faster on average when they collaborate. Performance and engagement improved also - people were more interested in what they were doing and felt less stress.
And what is interesting is that the people in the studies were not in the office. Proof that working collaboratively doesn’t rely on physical proximity.
3. Cultivates innovative ideas
Collaborative teams bring together people of different backgrounds, experiences, and skills to explore new perspectives. When people work together, they feel it is safer to experiment, take risks, and come up with solutions that work across the business - saving you time and money.
Every member has an open and welcoming space to pitch their ideas, allowing teams to brainstorm and build on each other solutions for more creative and effective output.
4. Contributes to wellbeing
Employee wellbeing is vital for engagement and productivity - and team collaboration can help boost it by encouraging people to build relationships, learn from each other, and give support and guidance.
Effective collaboration is also a key ingredient in mental wellbeing. UK mental health charity MIND advises workplaces wanting to create a mutually supportive environment to encourage and support a culture of collaboration, teamwork, and information sharing.
5. Supports recruitment and retention
Soon, Millennials will make up most of the global workforce, and Gen Z is following hot on their heels. Companies will want to attract and keep these valuable employees - and collaborative working is what they want.
Facilitating better collaboration, engagement, and a more team-centric culture in the workplace should be high on your agenda as many businesses face the threat of The Great Resignation.
What are collaboration skills?
The idea of collaboration seems easy enough, but in reality, it can be challenging to collaborate with others. Each team member has strengths and weaknesses, communication preferences, and personal goals. Company culture also influences collaboration. Some companies value collaboration and provide training, while others assume that collaboration will naturally happen.
Collaboration skills enable employees to work well with others. Most work environments require collaboration, so these skills are essential. These skills include understanding perspectives, managing priorities from everyone in the group, and meeting expectations as a reliable member of a team.
You need smooth communication, emotional intelligence, and respect for diversity for a successful collaboration. Here is a closer look at each of these types of collaboration skills.
A. Communication Skills
Transmitting your point of view across the organization can be challenging. You can’t be afraid to share your perspective within a team, but you also can't impose your viewpoint on everyone else. These communication skills are essential for collaboration activities.
Let's see what are the key types of communication:
- Active listening: goes beyond hearing the words your colleagues are saying. It means listening without judgment and understanding the meaning behind what they say.
- Written communication: Most collaboration happens in writing, mainly if you work from home or remotely. It is crucial to be mindful of how messages might be received when communicating in writing.
- Verbal communication: What you say in a team environment is essential, but how you say it is just as vital. Sharing your perspective succinctly and respectfully disagreeing are crucial aspects of verbal communication.
- Non-verbal communication: Body language and tone impact your verbal communication. The words delivered in two different ways can convey two different meanings to those listening.
Related: Learn what are the effective communication skills.
B. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotions, recognize emotions in others, react appropriately, and apply your feelings to tasks.
Some traits to cultivate to increase your emotional intelligence include:
- Not being offended easily
- Not taking criticism personally
- Being able to recognize and detach from intense emotions when needed
- Conflict resolution.
C. Respect for Diversity
In our global economy, you may be working with colleagues from other countries and cultures. To succeed at work, reflecting on any implicit biases you may hold to work respectfully with your colleagues is essential.
Respect for diversity in a collaborative environment includes:
- Open communication
- Sensitivity to ethnic and religious backgrounds
- Building and managing expectations
- Facilitating group discussion
- Agreeing on roles that capitalize on individual strengths
- Building consensus
- Eliciting viewpoints from all team members.
Conclusion: Encouraging teams toward collaboration works
People are social creatures designed to work together. The secret to innovation and creativity is collaboration at work. Prioritizing spaces and opportunities for people to feel safe, empowered, and appreciated will create waves of success and excitement throughout the entire organization.
Achieving an efficient collaborative environment allows team members to be more engaged, expand their knowledge, and offer an overall optimized workflow, where all the members work for the same goal collectively and equally.