Creating a more collaborative workplace – 3 ingredients you can’t miss

collaborative workplace
A collaborative workplace requires a certain degree of give and take and works on the essence of shared understanding among employees. Kevin, our guest author shares three ingredients for a successful collaborative workplace from giving freedom to employees to top management commitment. Please find his post below. Image credit : Pixabay

If you’re not fostering collaboration in your business, you will lose to those who do!

For starters, Millennials are taking over the workplace and majority of them (88%) prefer a collaborative culture over a competitive one. But more important, having all moving parts of the office work together simply makes good business sense.

Did you know?

Companies with a collaborative culture increase their productivity by 15%, reduce their time-to-market by 20%, and improve communication by 50%.

On the other hand, creating such an environment is easier said than done.

In particular, highly skilled employees – the nerds and geeks of the office – are not too keen on sharing their expertise and working with others. Many fear they would lose their edge at work by collaborating with co-workers, a point discussed in a post here at Work Monkey Labs.

And let’s admit it:

People, in general, are almost always resistant to change.

So what’s a business leader, like you, to do?

Read the rest of this brief guide and discover the five must-have ingredients for building a work environment where people love to work together.

Strong encouragement from the executive team

Supporting collaboration from the executive level isn’t just about having a mission or vision statement with the word “collaboration” in it. You need to go beyond mere words and show your support through actions.

Let’s take a look at a few ideas.

First on the list is to exhibit the behavior you want employees to adopt, and executives of the Standard Chartered bank do a fine job at it.

Members of the general management committee frequently travel to meet face-to-face and substitute for one another. Not only does this set a fine example for the rest of the company to follow. But doing so also enables executives to fill in for each other whatever the task – whether it’s to plan and run an internal event, start a dialogue with employees, or speak at a conference.

Frequent mentoring and coaching sessions can also encourage employees – both new and seasoned vets – to provide feedback and impart their knowledge. Both of which are crucial to collaboration.

At Nokia, new employees are exposed to the strong coaching culture of the company from the get-go.

Within a few days of stepping into a new job, the manager will meet with the employee and hand over a list of all the people in the organization the newcomer has to meet. The standard next step is for the new employee to set up meetings with people on the list so he or she may learn from them.

Designing an office to increase chance encounters and informal conversations among workers from different departments is another idea you should consider.

Google and Apple have done this masterfully by bringing offices together and adding kitchens and vending machines between teams.

Have you read ?

1. What collaboration is and is not . It is a habit and not a rare species
2.  The computer says yes but can AI really drive happy accidents and social collaboration
3.  How to foster social collaboration at work – Best practices

A suitable platform for collaboration

Make no mistake:

Creating a strong sense of community and having excellent leadership are essential for a collaborative work environment.

However, picking the wrong platform limits your chances of success.

Here’s an extreme example:

Using email to pass around and edit a document. The approach is just tedious and inefficient! A better way to go about editing a document as a team is to use tool like Google Docs where you can invite people, set permissions, and view changes real-time.

Clearly, you need to exercise good judgment when shopping for a social collaboration tool for your business. Fortunately, you have plenty to choose from as far as platforms are concerned, each bringing plenty unique bells and whistles to the table.

For large enterprises, Microsoft, Cisco, and Google lead the way in providing a scalable suite of tools which boast tight integration with each other.

Small to medium-sized businesses, on the other hand, turn to best-of-breed solutions like Trello because of the wide array of third-party applications built around them. Not to mention the affordable rates and low total cost of ownership are also a huge draw.

But the size of your organization isn’t the only consideration when looking into collaboration tools.

More important, you want a platform that solves your collaboration problems.

So instead of swooning over the latest buzz, ask questions like:

  • How do you want employees to work together?
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What do you want to get out of the tool and the increased collaboration it will bring?

From here, you can create a list of features you will need. Time-tracking and a robust shared calendar, for example, are must-haves for increased productivity in the office. But you will also want to get input from your team, the very people who will use the platform.

If you can find a tool that users love and has all of the features you need, you’re golden!

And lest we forget:

Look into the platform or suite’s security features.

Go for one that offers end-to-end encryption as you don’t want outsiders getting their hands on confidential company information. Multi-factor authentication is another security measure you don’t want to miss.

Let employees do what they ought to do

Directing and micromanaging people may be necessary in some cases – like when training a new member of the staff or coaching an under performing employee. In the long run, however, micromanaging will only kill the motivation and collaborative spirit of your team.

Think about it:

Why encourage collaboration in the first place if you’re going to do all the talking and team members have to follow your instructions down to a tee anyway?

Even worse, however, micromanaging puts your employees health at risk!

In a study involving 2,363 employees, researchers from the Indiana University found that highly demanding jobs which give people little control over the way they work are associated with a 15.4% increase in risk of death.

Autonomy, on the other hand, is the antithesis of micromanagement. Giving workers autonomy means they have some degree of control in how they work and use their skills.

Dan Pink, an NYT and WSJ best-selling author, identified autonomy as one of the key drivers of workplace motivation and performance alongside mastery and purpose. And Gensler’s 2013 Workplace Survey echo Pink’s conclusion.

In the survey, employees with a say in how they work surpass their peers without a choice at work by a large margin:

  • They perform better by 5 percentage points
  • More likely to innovate by 10 percentage points
  • More satisfied with their job by 10 percentage points

Not bad for giving employees a say in the workplace, don’t you think?

If you picked the right team members and have set clear guidelines, success metrics, and objectives for the project, then it’s high time to let your team take the reins so you can focus on the bigger picture.