Collaborative Work And The Environments That Foster It
We’ve all heard the saying, “a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.”
It’s true that skilled individuals are essential to a business’ success, but talented employees will not enhance the productivity of an organization alone.
It’s essential that your entire team’s workspace is conducive to the creation of phenomenal work. And what if that workspace focused on the strengths of the team as a whole, instead of individual weaknesses?
Welcome to the collaborative work environment.
What is Collaborative Work?
Collaborative work is when individuals or teams with different skill sets come together to achieve a combined goal. This kind of collaboration can be synchronous, meaning all team members work in tandem during the same time frame. It can also be asynchronous, where members of the team work on their own schedules but with shared deadlines.
Benefits of Collaborative Work
Progressive organizations are realizing the immense potential of collaboration and steering their teams towards it. In fact, Forbes reports a joint study (from the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College) has established that companies who encourage collaborative working perform five times better than their contemporaries.
Collaboration prompts employees to think about their capabilities in depth and get a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses— and these collaborative environments foster growth. Teamwork creates a vast pool of talent, allows a greater number of challenges to be solved effectively.
Every team member has the opportunity to gain knowledge from others and enhance their own abilities.
Elements of Collaborative Work Environments
In order to foster a productive collaborative work environment, it is essential to focus on physical aspects of the work space such as the layout, tech tools, and team building. It is equally important to cultivate a collaborative mindset among employees through frequent feedback and open communication. You can do this in the following ways:
Workplace design is important in fostering collaborative work. Open communication and delegated privacy zones can be created with the proper infrastructure.
In every work space, including the open office, there will always be some tasks that call for peace and quiet. This is where flexible, task dependent solutions such as the Loop Cube can come in handy. These modern office meeting booths can provide a quiet and private space for productive meetings right in the midst of a noisy, open office. These acoustic office pods (that can hold up to 4 people) are available in a range of customizable options you can explore here.
Promote the use of technology to foster the sharing of ideas and concepts. Interactive displays are a good way of encouraging people to share thoughts and provide suggestions. Digital project boards such as Trello are highly suitable for team collaborations. It offers an easy way to track projects and trace accountability for various tasks. Video conferencing is also extremely useful in nurturing a collaborative work environment, especially for remote employees.
Team Building Initiatives
Team building exercises are an indirect means of encouraging office collaboration. These initiatives help employees form bonds outside of the work space, which can have a positive impact on their performance in office (especially when it comes to teamwork).
A team building activity is also a great assessment tool for management to gauge the strengths of team members. This can prove useful when allocating responsibilities by selecting the best person for each task.
Speak to team members face-to-face and convey your organization’s expectations from the get go. It’s important to define team goals and assign individual responsibilities clearly.
Make team meetings a daily routine, where everyone is encouraged to share their objectives for the day. This helps to create an open space to discuss any workplace challenges, and collaboratively implement solutions.
As a leader, consistently providing positive feedback can be a major motivator to employees. A short e-mail or a virtual pat on the back can create a real boost in employee morale. Be sure to encourage innovation and creativity among employees—this can provide a whole new angle, or even bring forth a solution to some seemingly insurmountable challenge.
A collaborative environment is the foundation to a successful future. The process of collaborating should be sustained to ensure long-term benefits. As Henry Ford said, “coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”