Everyone knows that a successful workplace hinges upon collaboration.
Working together towards a common goal, sparking creativity in each other and feeling supported by peers is essential for happy, productive employees. While this might be a universal truth, too many organisations overlook the steps that can be taken to achieve optimal collaboration levels for everyone:
Step one: survey the workspace
Does your workspace enable collaboration as much as possible? Analyse the space, and look for areas that can be improved. In general, open plan areas are synonymous with more collaborative experiences as they encourage more discussion and thought-sharing between employees.
"43% of organisations have office spaces that are mainly open plan with few partitions." ~ The Modern Workplace 2018: People, Places and Technology Report
Of course, the layout and style of workspaces differs throughout various industries and different locations. For example, Singapore has an attitude towards office space that is distinctive from the European approach:
“Singapore is more traditional and hierarchal, in general, with separate offices and cubicles being seen as a mark of status”. ~ The Modern Workplace 2018: People, Places and Technology Report
Differing perspectives need to be dealt with properly – you cannot just force an open plan design on an office that traditionally believes in hierarchy and quiet environments. However, if this is the case in your workplace, consider adding dedicated areas that promote collaboration, rather than removing existing partitions.
Step two: explore different working styles
Are you allowing your employees to work in the most effective way, therefore encouraging maximum collaboration? As per The Modern Workplace 2018: People, Places and Technology Report, a UK technology COO stated that integrated teams are more effective, and even goes as far to enable all teams (except sales) to work cross-functionally. This happens on a quarterly basis, therefore encouraging more efficient collaboration across differing business functions.
Clearly, this is quite a drastic move for some businesses, however, exploring other types of working styles can also help to encourage collaboration: activity-based working and more flexible working styles can have a positive effect too. Employees should feel empowered to work in styles that suit them and their responsibilities, and should be given space to socialise with their peers, or converse in a more informal way than usual.
Step three: integrate technology
Finally, integrating more useful technology into our working lives can help to boost levels of collaboration between employees. Bringing tech into step in the office leaves employees more time and freedom to concentrate on working together effectively.
Technology can also help improve collaboration across areas where it was previously more difficult to achieve – video integrated meetings and online chats, for example, can be used in an informal way to allow employees in different areas and locations to share ideas.