Collaboration is at the core of the modern workplace. In collaborative workplaces, all employees put their minds together, share their views, and combine their knowledge to arrive at the best solutions. Meetings and video conferences play a key role in making this happen, and meeting transcription services are available to document these interactions for review. Collaboration fosters positive relationships and job satisfaction among workers and drives creative thinking, high performance, and improved productivity.
Surveys: Collaboration is Paramount in the Modern Workplace
A study published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) revealed that for many companies, the time that employees spend on collaborative activities in the office, including meetings, phone calls or answering emails, has increased by about 50 percent and takes up 80 percent or more of their time.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the integration of social technologies in day-to-day work is fostering better communication and self-organization. In McKinsey’s survey, respondents cited communication and collaboration as the specific benefits of social tools. Up to 72 percent of companies have implemented social tools, with the goal of achieving their full potential innovation and efficiency through highly collaborative teams.
A recent Microsoft survey across seven countries revealed that work is becoming more collaborative, and Gen Z (18-21) starts to enter the workforce in greater numbers, the desire to create and collaborate via quick chat-based modes of communication is growing. Another recent report points out that the millennial generation, which is shaking up the workplace with different priorities and expectations, values collaboration more than any other.
How to Foster Collaboration and Communication at Work
- Set the example: Leadership and management style that promotes collaboration and open communication is a powerful instrument to encourage the desired behavior in employees. Management shouldn’t remain behind closed doors, but should participate in team meetings and outings. Open and honest communication will go a long way in creating a positive feeling in the workplace. Teams should be encouraged to nurture and foster connections both in the workplace and outside of work.
- Hire right: Managers need to hire with collaboration in mind. Companies looking to build a collaborative workplace will have to design their screening process to understand if candidates will be good team players and foster collaboration.
- Integrate collaboration into the workflow: Companies should work to promote employees’ ability to communicate more freely. Collaboration should fit into the natural workflow. Employees must be given the tools they need for open and free communication. Whether in-person communication, collaboration online or phone or video conference, it’s important to make it easy for employees to collaborate without disrupting work.
- Use technology to fuel teamwork: Adopting digital tools, including social technologies has a key role in fostering collaboration in the modern workplace. Options include email, phone, texting, team-collaboration platforms/apps, collaborative document editing, and online video conferencing. Microsoft Teams, for instance, creates a central, secure, shared workspace for team conversations, meetings, files and tools using chat video meetings and built-in integration with apps. Microsoft also offers Yammer, a social tool that to create communities where employees can share best practices and crowdsource ideas among colleagues. Social tools increase employees’ ability to communicate more freely and self-organize with the rest of the team.
- Set up open workstations: Cubicles discourage a collaborative workplace. In offices with an open floor plan, on the other hand, make employees more accessible to each other. Workers are more likely to exchange ideas and ask for input in open work spaces. A ‘do not disturb’ sign can provide privacy when needed. Nevertheless, most offices do have private spaces where teams can meet for their brainstorming sessions.
- Take steps to prevent workplace bullying: Bullying and harassment are detrimental to constructive and collaborative working relationships. Management should adopt a no-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior order to promote a respectful and collaborative environment.
- Recognize and reward collaboration: Reward top performers for team work – reward individuals and the team. Recognize the collaborative effort as well as the outcomes achieved through collaboration. Allow them to talk freely and express their ideas, their needs, and their suggestions, and incorporate these in your strategy. Say thank you and provide your best employees opportunities to learn and improve their collaborative efforts.
According to a recent HBR report, women are more likely to make the effort to collaborate at work. The report discusses a study by researcher, consultant, and author Pam Heim that revealed that men and women view collaboration differently. Her research found that while men thought teamwork meant knowing their position and playing it well, women are more likely to agree with the statement “Being a good team player means helping all of my colleagues with what they need to get done.”
Video conferencing is one of the effective and affordable tools for business collaboration. Video conferencing helps eliminate some of the risks of miscommunication associated with phone and email. Arranging for a video transcription service to document the sessions will ensure that the entire team can revisit what was discussed and work towards common goals, a prerequisite for effective collaboration.