Workplace collaboration has been vital in businesses of all types for decades, and it has only grown in importance since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world has changed dramatically, and a rise in distributed workforces and remote and hybrid work environments has forced companies and employees to adapt to new forms of communication. Research has shown that approximately 83% of modern workers require the use of technology to collaborate with others. Digital tools have become an essential component of complex collaboration initiatives across industries around the world.
In this post, we’ll explore some proven actions that a company can take to foster greater collaboration in the workplace. You’ll find a mix of strategies that can be adapted to any business environment and work culture. Key themes among these suggestions are a commitment to continuous improvement and listening to your employees’ voices. Employees will not only benefit from improved collaboration, but they also often have some of the best ideas for how to make it happen.
Create an Environment of Openness and Transparency
A proven way to build trust among employees is to create a culture that prioritizes transparency. This is especially true today with remote and hybrid workplaces. Employees should have access to several workplace communication tools and the opportunity to view regular updates from leaders at all levels of the organization. A culture of openness also helps leadership clearly demonstrate ideal behaviors to encourage active and effective collaboration among team members.
With a transparent workplace environment, employees can also freely share their ideas and learn from each other. This not only enables greater innovation and problem solving, but it’s also an important component of high-performance team building. Transparency is also important during the goal-setting process when employees should have ample opportunity to ask questions and contribute their own ideas to the plan.
Promote a Shared Company Vision
The mission and vision of a company are the foundation on which the entire operation is built. It’s important not only to develop a compelling vision but also to refine this vision over time as the culture of the company evolves. Most employees will respond positively to a mission and vision that resonates with them. People desire to contribute their best work in alignment with an overall goal that has true meaning for the company, society, or the environment. Employees are also more likely to feel like valued members of the company when they have an opportunity to collaborate with a shared purpose.
Design Spaces and Processes for Collaboration
A company that invests in organizational collaborative practices is much more likely to foster high-performing teams. This can be a big challenge for many businesses, as these processes will only be successful if they are innovative and align with the existing company culture and behavioral norms. With a rise in shared workspaces, it’s also an excellent time to to design work processes that address COVID challenges while also ensuring that employees don’t have to put in significant effort to safely gather in community areas, meeting rooms, or virtually. There should be sufficient private space as well to accommodate employees’ needs. However, it’s important for business leaders to gain an understanding of how your employees work and collaborate best in order to design the right environment for your organization.
For example, one multinational energy corporation leveraged the Humanyze Organizational Health Platform™ to determine if it had placed teams correctly to support effective collaboration and if employees were collaborating with the right people. After collecting and analyzing data from calendars, email, Skype, etc, the company was able to make data-driven decisions to produce the best outcomes for both employees and the business. The company continues to utilize Humanyze to continuously validate and predict the impact of factors such as reducing time spent in meetings and improved team locations on work-life balance, as well as how these and other factors can foster a better company culture while optimizing its use of commercial real estate space.
Cultivate Leaders that Respect Goals and Relationships
In the quest for greater performance, a company can easily promote individuals into leadership positions based on business results without enough emphasis placed on soft skills. Leadership behavior dictates the true values of your company, regardless of what you write in your official corporate value statement. It’s important to select a diverse mix of leaders that represent unique viewpoints and value the need for close collaboration. These employees are often excellent teambuilders that combine a focus on goals with a relationship-oriented approach to their leadership style. Employees often respond positively to leaders who take time to ask genuine questions and build these individual relationships.
Take a Data-Based Approach to Employee Success
Historically, managing change initiatives has been difficult without clear correlations between effort and results. Several new tools have been created to help companies understand more about employee behavior and team dynamics. One such technology is called behavioral analytics, and it can provide significant momentum to collaboration initiatives. These solutions can compile data related to productivity, engagement, and other performance indicators and provide valuable collaboration metrics to enable leaders to make data-driven decisions that support collaboration.
For example, one international pharmaceutical company leveraged the Humanyze Organizational Health Platform™ to pinpoint the underlying causes contributing to significant performance gaps between teams. By identifying communication patterns and comparing the data to employee surveys, office layouts, and team demographics, the company discovered that employees who interacted more with coworkers were happier, more engaged, and more productive. Another trend noted was a decline in energy and productivity among employees with longer tenure at the company. To address these challenges, the company paired tenured employees with junior partners and implemented monthly team-building activities to encourage greater interaction among team members and, after months of testing new culture-building programs, brought performance among lower-performing teams in line with that of higher-performing teams.
Changing a company’s culture is hard work, and today’s leaders must find unique ways to engage with employees and foster greater collaboration. Success often results from developing a world-class people strategy and gathering valuable insights from your own staff. By placing a high priority on collaboration, your employees will be able to recognize the efforts you are taking across the organization to improve the work experience for everyone.