With technology and changes in the workplace, there are more remote workers. People may work from home or in offices around the country or world from one another. There are advantages to these situations including the fact that it lowers overhead for the employer and broadens the talent pool.
At the same time, this doesn’t eliminate the need for workplace collaboration, but it can make facilitating that collaboration more challenging.
Despite challenges, the importance of collaboration at work can’t be overlooked. Some of the benefits of workplace collaboration include:
- The ability for team members to learn from one another and share experiences
- It improves the ability to solve problems effectively
- Collaboration can help everyone see the bigger pictures particularly when employees are working with people from different backgrounds and experiences than their own
With that being said, the following are some specific tips to improve workplace collaboration in 2019 and beyond.
1. Use the Right Collaboration Tools
There are a plethora of collaboration tools available to the modern workplace. It can take some trial and error to find the right ones for your employees, but experiment and see what improves not only collaboration but also productivity.
One example of a modern collaborative tool is a virtual data room so you can securely send documents and files with sensitive information. Virtual data rooms allow for secure data storage and sharing, and they can be customized to the needs of the organization.
2. Be Clear With Communication
Collaboration tools can help in this area, but in general when you want to promote a collaborative work environment, even remotely, communication is key. However, the shortest communication isn’t always the best approach.
You don’t want your team members spending massive amounts of time reading long messages, but you also don’t want your messages so short they’re difficult to understand.
If you’re being clear and providing the necessary information with your messages, that shouldn’t require a lot of follow-ups. Don’t pressure the people you’re working with too much regarding unnecessary follow-up messages.
To help with communication, you might want to create a system that everyone can follow. For example, maybe you let co-workers know when you expect a quick response versus when you don’t need a response.
Even outside of how you communicate, in a collaborative work environment expectations need to be as specifically defined as possible. Everyone needs to know what their role is and what the expectations are for that role.
3. Let Everyone Know Why Collaboration Is Needed
A big obstacle regarding collaboration is employees who aren’t interested in it. They might see collaboration as being a waste of time, and if you’re in charge, it’s up to you to show them why it’s not a waste of time and why it’s valuable.
If you’re forcing people into collaborative situations at work, they’re not going to be motivated nor are they going be authentic—both of which are problematic. You want employees to feel engaged and excited when they’re collaborating, so define how the collaboration works within a larger purpose or vision.
4. Create Goals for the Whole Team
If you want employees to collaborate, you should measure their success based on a team effort. If everyone is going to be judged based on the work of the entire team, they’re more likely to participate fully in a collaborative work environment.
It’s a good way to remove barriers and get everyone motivated by giving them shared goals.
5. Foster Innovation
One of the biggest benefits of a collaborative workplace is that it can lead to an increase in innovation. Provide team members the opportunity to explore freely to foster innovation. Let your team members come to their own solutions to problems through brainstorming.
As long as they’re able to achieve the result that’s needed, don’t micromanage for a successful collaborative environment.
Finally, collaboration should be part of your culture. To integrate a collaborative spirit into your workplace and make it part of the culture, recognize positive collaboration as it’s happening. Recognize employee contributions stemming from collaboration. Reward and celebrate collaborative work, and be consistent with this.
You want to dedicate time and energy to let employees know how important collaboration is within your organization if you want to it to become part of the culture. If employees are rewarded and recognized for the work they do together, it’s going to make collaboration a worthwhile endeavor for them.