How to improve collaborative work in your company
The shift toward greater workplace flexibility and autonomy has brought both benefits and concerns.
One of these challenges is related to collaboration.
How do you foster and promote collaboration among a global team of people with varying cultural and professional backgrounds who frequently work in different time zones?
Companies that fail to develop a collaborative working environment end up with high levels of stress and conflict as teams struggle to work together and communicate effectively.
But first and foremost, let us define collaboration.
Collaboration is defined as the act of collaborating with others to achieve a common goal, and it can take many forms. Collaboration can be with colleagues in the same department (inter-team collaboration), with other departments within the organization (intra-team cooperation), or with customers and suppliers. Therefore, collaboration is a vital component in any business, whether it is conducted in person or online.
So, let’s look at how businesses could improve collaboration.
1. Ensuring the right equipment, tools and infrastructure
Many organizations were unprepared to manage remote workers prior to COVID-19, thus improving the IT infrastructure is critical. To begin, as an employer, you must guarantee that your staff is properly equipped for job success.
Good meeting software, instant messaging platforms, background noise removal, bandwidth, video and audio quality…these are all factors that can make or break organizational collaboration.
One final aspect of IT is ensuring that organizations and employees can choose the right tools for the job. This frequently necessitates experimenting with several instruments until the appropriate fit is found. Furthermore, training must be provided to staff so that they can manage the evolving IT landscape.
2. Build skills and make time for building relationships
Meetings are necessary for staying in touch, but while screen fatigue is real, those gatherings must be well planned and arranged. This requires a clear agenda, the proper persons on the call and the right time slot. Furthermore, spreading meetings throughout the working day and ensuring that staff have enough time to take breaks is an issue that must be carefully managed. Collaboration is about making time to create relationships, not about the number of meetings.
Soft skills and good habits come into play here.
For a long time, technical abilities were essential in the hiring process; but, with the advent of remote work and the need to establish teams on multiple continents, soft skills and culture have become increasingly important.
Another crucial aspect of making collaboration work is giving up on multitasking during meetings (sending emails, chatting or scrolling social media ) and turning the camera on.
3. Work with employee’s fear of having camera on during the meetings
Since the way we have meetings has changed, we must also change our behaviors. One thing we need to concentrate on is becoming confident in front of the camera.
While some managers and participants tend to jump to conclusions when a colleague isn’t on camera, it’s always better to keep in mind that the reasons for avoiding it are numerous.
Some people are shy in front of cameras, while others are anxious about their looks and/or background. Many people are distracted by it and think they can focus better with just audio. Finally, keep in mind that videoconferencing is new, and many people do not find this kind of working natural.
Furthermore, rather than pressuring employees to use their cameras, the change to a camera-on culture should be gradual. Employees that are exceedingly shy should be encouraged and supported. Finally, managers should provide a good example, which leads us to the next point.
4. Leadership support
If a company desires to build a collaborative working culture, then this aspect needs to be nurtured and prioritized. As a result, developing a collaborative working atmosphere begins with leadership.
Leaders must communicate the message that achieving this is a priority, and they must make room on their agenda for collaboration.
Collaborative working implies that leaders actively involve their teams in goal-setting, decision-making, and problem-solving. Having regular, open dialogues with staff is also vital for building morale and fostering a collaborative atmosphere. Last but not least, they must let go of their desire to micromanage and develop effective facilitation skills.
To summarize, the answer to how to improve collaborative work in an organization relies on where the company is right now in terms of infrastructure, company culture, hiring processes, skillset and leadership style. Finding the right combination of methods requires a lot of experimentation and an open mind. Finally, leaders must remember that collaboration is about people and it is interpersonal.