What is workplace collaboration
Collaboration is the act of individuals working together to make unified decisions. When we talk about collaboration in the workplace, this definition extends to team members or colleagues working together and setting processes to make choices that all members agree on for a greater purpose. Collaboration happens in all types of settings whether teams are remote or stationed at headquarters. Ultimately, the goal of workplace collaboration is to maximize the chances of success by administering an open, communicative, and collaborative experience among all members of an organization.
For the history of workplace collaboration, read this article from SmartSheet.
Why collaboration in the workplace is important
If you think about collaboration in general, the goal is to maximize the success of a business. A group of individuals has more power and impact than a single person. Working in teams enables employees to share knowledge, work more efficiently and effectively. Each member of the team is like another resource or tool that team members can leverage to make better and smarter decisions. In addition, working together in teams promotes healthy employee relationships. Healthy employee relationships lead to better team performance and overall productivity.
Collaboration in the workplace improves:
- Optimized workflow processes
- Improved employee and team relationships
- Maximized productivity
- Increased efficiency
Benefits of collaboration in the workplace
Now that we’ve outlined why collaboration in the workplace is important, let’s talk about some of the benefits. What are the outcomes to expect when employees engage in team collaboration? We mentioned the theme of increasing business success. Let’s examine the contributing factors that lead to maximized project success.
Collaboration in the workplace:
Generally speaking, when diverse knowledge and skillsets are in the mix, it increases competence and experience. Individuals with different skill sets are able to solve problems more creatively and effectively because they are able to cover blind spots.
The diverse expertise and perspectives of your team will foster problem-solving. When people are constantly updated with new information, it continues the momentum and creates a continuous cycle of ideation that can expedite new and creative solutions.
Connects teams to the bigger picture
Many times the bigger picture gets buried when an individual is focused on a problem. Collaboration in the workplace brings together people with different backgrounds that can be leveraged to identify and see the bigger picture. In addition, it enables employees to make connections between various ideas and departments that break down siloes. This is valuable because it lends a higher purpose to employees.
Boosts learning and skills-sharing
When you have people working together, there is a tremendous opportunity for individuals to learn from each other. Because collaboration in the workplace requires feedback and viewpoints from various teams and team members, you’re effectively connecting cross-functional teams. Because no two people have the same ideas, knowledge, and experience are transferred between individuals, enabling employees to expand their skills faster.
Increases employee satisfaction
Collaboration in the workplace helps create an open environment where people feel valued and heard. Employees who are happy positively contributes to a good company culture. In addition, employees who are excited to go to work every day tend to be more accountable and are less likely to leave the company.
Aligns distributed or remote teams
The workforce is more distributed than ever. Some organizations have multiple offices spread across the globe, some companies employ only remote workers, and some organizations have a hybrid of the latter two. It’s even more critical to promote collaboration and include remote teams so that everyone stays updated, aligned, and connected. What happens is, remote employees start to feel siloed and lonely, which negatively impacts productivity and employee retention.
Tips to improve workplace collaboration
There are more than enough reasons that prove collaboration in the workplace is beneficial not only to your employees but to your entire company. Here are some tips to better collaboration:
- Listen first, talk later. A large part of collaborating successfully between employees and teams is listening to one another and making sure that everyone feels acknowledged and heard. When you prioritize listening, you’ll learn much quicker and be able to identify more gaps. Also, it builds trust, leading to better relationships.
- Set ground rules and goals. When you have a large group of people collaborating in the workplace, it can become chaotic. Setting goals along with rules are necessary to keep everyone on track and focused on what’s at hand. Goals should be iterated at the beginning of every collaboration meeting so that everyone is aligned. Rules will create a structure for the process. For example, to make sure that collaboration is efficient, you can set rules to limit time.
- Lead by example. To encourage your team members to collaborate, you must lead by example. This means being respectful and open to new ideas, feedback, and opinions. This also means that you should take them constructively. Leaders should be transparent about processes and information and recognize that mistakes will be made.
- Be flexible. Because there are various personalities and experiences in the mix, it’s critical to continuously adapt to different practices and needs of team members. You should not expect everyone to follow a single process. Instead, recognize that there will be differences in the way others execute things and find different ways to approach those differences without being judgemental.
A successful business requires team collaboration
Collaboration in the workplace takes into account employees’ ideas, skills, experiences, and opinions. When individuals work together openly, processes and goals become more aligned, leading the group towards a higher success rate of achieving a common goal. With increasing competition in the market, it’s become increasingly important to encourage collaboration in the workplace. Collaboration spurs creativity, improves productivity, and increases employee satisfaction. With the right mindset and practices, collaboration can be a unique differentiator for your company. The outcomes mentioned above prove that collaboration in the workplace is a critical contributor to overall business success.