These days, having a collaborative workplace is more important than ever. Especially when you know that companies could gain $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value if they improved their communication and collaboration skills (according to a McKinsey study).
But it’s easy to want a collaborative workplace, it’s harder to actually make it work on the long term. That’s why we’ve put together the 4 easy steps you could take today to start walking in the right direction.
1. Create the right opportunities for a collaborative workspace
Collaboration is nothing more than conversations between people to reach a common goal. This means that if you want people to collaborate more in your company, you need to create opportunities for them to meet and exchange, in a formal and informal manner.
Setting times and places for people to talk and share ideas, like team lunches or casual events, is a good way to make sure that your employees are actually communicating with each other. The end goal here should be that people learn from each other and feel comfortable reaching out to anyone around them with ideas, questions and comments.
During these conversations, people from different teams might realize that they could help each other out in ways they wouldn’t have thought otherwise, improving productivity, creativity and motivation throughout your teams.
The team at Evernote actually pushed this concept even further. They have their entire top management team take turns at the office’s coffee shop making drinks for everyone. The weekly schedule is shared so that everyone can have a chance of catching up with any top management over a drink.
2. Make information available to everyone, everywhere
According to a study by Socialtext, employees spend up to 25% of their day looking for information. This means that you’re probably wasting 25% of your staff cost just because you’re not making it easy enough for your teams to find what they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it.
Making information available to anyone is all about using the right tools or the right processes. Companies like Buffer and Stripe for example resort to fully transparent email to make sure that everyone in their teams has the ability to stay in the loop if they want to. And all information is just a search away. Here at Front, our own app obviously lets us track down information and share it while working together in the same inbox.
Other apps like Trello, Asana or Slack (amongst others) are great ways to relay important messages, give visibility to your team on different subjects and get different streams of information available to anyone without cluttering your inboxes.
3. Push your employees to work outside of their job description
Just like having lunch and coffee together can push people to exchange on the things they’re working on in an informal manner, actually encouraging people from different teams to work together outside of their job description can be really beneficial to them, the team and your company.
This means getting people from your customer support team sit down on product meetings to give new insights that they are the only ones to have. Or have your sales team give feedback on the new design you’re releasing. Maybe even ask your engineers sit down with your marketing team to see if they couldn’t work on an interesting plug-in for acquisition. Or get everyone involved doing customer support!
Bringing different people outside of their usual context to work on projects that aren’t usually in their reach will definitely spark creativity and push innovation and collaboration forward.
4. Don’t go too fast, too strong
Collaboration is a tricky matter. In most cases, you need to have your entire team on board with you to make it work. And it means that you need to convince each and every one of your team members to adopt whatever new habit you’re trying to implement by showing them what’s in it for them. If you try to make too many changes to your normal workflow too fast, there’s a big risk people won’t be able to follow.
Carefully picking the new tools you use or the new processes you want to implement and getting your team up to speed gradually will insure that everything goes seamlessly and that new habits really stick.
To do this, it might be a good idea to sit down with your team and work out together the best ways to integrate collaboration habits in your workflow, what kind of information they feel like they’re missing and what’s the best way to give them access to it.
Building a collaborative workplace
In the end, adopting collaboration habits in your daily workflow is more than just about saving money. It’s about improving productivity, innovation and motivation in your team. It’s about getting work done. And it’s about getting it done in the best possible way.
Like Henry Ford used to say, “coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
Written by Mathilde Collin
Originally Published: 17 April 2020