39% of employees surveyed in a recent study felt that people within their organizations did not collaborate enough, while 86% of executives and employees “cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.” These kinds of statistics should get any HR or operations manager thinking about what can be done to improve workplace collaboration.
Why is it so important to improve workplace collaboration?
The challenge with collaboration is that it drains resources but does not always have immediate apparent benefits. It takes time, space, and money to bring employees together, especially in a global organization. Although the benefits of increased collaboration are not always apparent at first, they become more visible over time. The core benefit of collaboration is the ability to share knowledge and expertise quickly and easily, and this sharing leads to better products and innovations, which in turn drives better profitability, employee engagement, and employee satisfaction.
Tackling workplace collaboration comes down to three things – your company culture, workspace, and technology.
Across these categories, we have identified a few tips that will help you improve workplace collaboration, and turn your company into a more engaging, more resourceful, and more profitable organization.
Inspire from the top down
The number one thing that any leader can do to improve workplace collaboration is to lead by example. Instead of using mass emails, executives should begin using collaboration tools when communicating with employees. This not only opens up new lines of communication from the bottom up, but also inspires employees to follow along and use these tools for their own projects.
Align around a shared vision and purpose
Collaboration has the benefit of opening up employees’ eyes to the larger role that they play within the organization, but the association also goes the other way. When employees understand the role they play in helping the organization meet its goals, and the role that collaboration plays to advance this purpose, they are more likely to make a meaningful contribution in the team setting.
Employees are more likely to be willing to collaborate and provide each other with critical feedback when they have developed a close friendship. In fact, employees who report having a friend at work are 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work. Organizational leaders can help foster these friendships within the company culture by encouraging interaction outside of the office or setting aside funds for group bonding time.
Diversify the workspace
Some of the best ideas and collaborations occur when employees have unplanned interactions, or “collisions” at work. Offices with a diversity of furniture and spaces to work in create more flow of personnel around the office, more creativity and energy, and greater likelihood that employees will collide and come up with the next great idea.
Allow for some privacy
Many companies have embraced the open office concept, with shared desks and no doors. But as much as the concept of public space sounds great, it is likely that all employees will need privacy at some point. In fact, some private huddle rooms are a great place for teams to get together for a focused brainstorming session without distractions or fear of talking too loud—which can stunt creativity and innovation.
Connect with video
As more employees are working remotely, broadband internet has become widespread, and employees are bringing their own devices to work, the benefits of video conferencing are stronger than ever. Video conferencing offers the capability of screen sharing so that coworkers do not need to be in the same room to share knowledge, information, or visuals and allows employees to build deeper personal connections without needing to spend the time and money flying across the country or around the world. The personal nature of seeing coworkers face-to-face on-screen helps foster those friendships that are so vital to collaboration.
Leverage a corporate social network
Social networks can be helpful at not only fostering relationships between employees and connecting employees with management, but also sharing knowledge and expertise efficiently across an organization. Even some troubled companies have found that implementing or expanding usage of their social networks can play a key role in catalyzing collaboration and returning to profitability.
Use an employee engagement platform
Employee engagement programs using platforms such as WeSpire’s Employee Engagement Platform cultivate cultural change to improve workplace collaboration. These platforms align employees around a shared purpose and vision, and foster the development of interpersonal relationships that make employees more comfortable engaging in collaborative activities. With these enterprise systems, employees are empowered to work together to make a positive impact on company results.
See more resources on workplace collaboration.
Download WeSpire’s white paper “Why Technology Platforms Deliver Better Employee Engagement Results” to learn more about using technology to improve employee engagement and improve workplace collaboration.