Effective collaboration in the workplace is something that all employers strive for. Not only is it a great way to make employees feel more connected to their organizations, but it is also a powerful tool to increase the overall quality of end-products and services.
However, many organizations still haven’t unlocked the full power of team collaboration. And this is no wonder since effective collaboration calls for thoughtful leadership, good communication, and other important factors.
So, read on to find out what effective collaboration is, what are its benefits for organizations, and how you can improve it in your company.
What is collaboration and what is it not?
Many people still believe that the terms ‘collaboration’ and ‘cooperation’ can be used interchangeably. However, they are not the same! Collaboration happens when a group of people work together on a project and share a common goal.
Here’s an example. People from the customer service team are getting many complaints about some of the software’s functionalities. They get together with the product and development team to work on updating and improving the software for customers.
People from these three departments have different skills and will approach this problem differently. However, they still share the same goal: to make the software better for customers.
On the other hand, what describes cooperation is working together but to support someone else’s goal. For example, cooperation is assisting on a project where you don’t come up with a shared vision, but just to help your colleague achieve his or her goals.
Why is collaboration important in the workplace?
The need for collaboration in the workplace is not just a nice-to-have addition that employers write in job ads. It is something that keeps businesses competitive and on a level with market demands. In other words, organizations that don’t encourage collaboration in their rows are missing out big time.
Here are some specific reasons why collaboration in the workplace is essential for businesses.
1. It improves the way teams work together
It’s incredibly important to have a well-functioning team whose members work well together. When you don’t know your colleagues that well, you don’t know if you can trust them, how they would react, what their work habits are… On the other hand, frequent collaboration sets things in motion. It makes everybody know each other better, and it makes collaboration in the workplace more efficient.
2. Workplace collaboration gives context to individuals’ work
According to a 2017 survey by BetterUp, 90% of employees would take a pay cut to do meaningful work. In other words, we all want to know that we’re useful.
When you collaborate with your teammates, you can clearly see how your work adds value to the final output. Your work is put in context, and you can more easily see a bigger picture.
Workplace collaboration is also very important to remote workers who can feel isolated and lonely. When they collaborate with their colleagues, it makes them feel more connected to their team and company.
3. Better problem solving
For a lot of workers, their job consists of solving certain problems. It could be customers requests, lines of code, or something else. We all engage in small-scale problem solving on a daily basis.
However, bigger problems are better resolved when people collaborate. This is because everybody approaches the same thing from a different perspective, which can enrich the problem-solving process and provide a better result in the end.
4. Drives growth and innovation
Workplace collaboration drives growth and innovation. To some, this may sound self-explanatory. Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but in interaction with challenging ideas or different points of view.
Moreover, innovation is something that propels growth and helps companies stay competitive, yet very few leaders are satisfied with innovation in their own rows. According to McKinsey’s research, 84% of executives believe that innovation is crucial to growth, but only 6% are pleased with innovation performance.
A simple way to improve the process of innovating? Facilitate and prioritize collaboration in the workplace.
5. Improves engagement
Engaged employees are the single most important determinant of successful businesses. When we collaborate, the chances of being disengaged are slimmed down to next to nothing.
You either have to be a part of the conversation or deliver your own individual work in the agreed time frame, in other words, you are constantly engaged in your work.
6. Facilitates learning and skill-sharing
The 70-20-10 Model for learning and development says that we acquire 70% of knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal educational events.
Since it is an activity where employees interact intensively, collaboration is often a catalyst for learning new skills - both hard and soft ones. As such, collaboration in the workplace has a twofold benefit: it enables employees to learn and grow while minimizing the risk of losing key knowledge due to its shared nature.
7. Focusing on goals
It’s easy to lose track of why you’re doing something if you’re not reminded of it once in a while. That being said, team collaboration doesn’t automatically mean that the work will be goal-oriented. However, collaborating on a project calls for frequent re-orientation and asking “how will this help to accomplish our goals” every step of the way.
In other words, collaboration in the workplace is a great way to keep everybody aligned and focused on the final outcome.
8. Better end-result
When employees collaborate, they ensure that a single matter has been approached from several different perspectives. This ensures that the outcome of the project is of higher quality. In many cases, employees from different departments engage in cross-functional collaboration to cater to customer needs. When professionals from the product, marketing, sales, development, and customer success collaborate on such products, they ensure that the outcome will be optimal for all the parties involved.
9. Improved customer satisfaction
The ultimate goal of any commercial business is to get more revenue. To achieve this, you need a steady customer base. Sustainable businesses that think long-term know that they need to continuously work on improving their customer satisfaction.
As explained above, customer needs can be met best when people from different departments collaborate to resolve ongoing issues. As such, workplace collaboration is the key to achieving better customer satisfaction scores.
How can you improve workplace collaboration?
Now you know how beneficial collaboration in the workplace is. But, how do you get it right?
Even though 75% of employees believe that collaboration and teamwork are important, a whopping 80% is stressed because of ineffective communication in the workplace.
Here are some of the steps to follow to create a great collaboration experience and get the best results out of it.
Assigning the project leader
As simple as it may sound - many people expect collaboration in the workplace to just happen. Just like any other project, collaboration in the workplace needs to be structured to see the best results.
This means assigning a single person that will be the owner of the task. The project leader should be responsible for managing the collaboration altogether.
Continuous goal alignment
As mentioned before, one of the greatest benefits of collaboration in the workplace is that it has the potential to keep everybody aligned. Therefore, a project manager should always try to keep everybody coordinated in their efforts, and also make sure that every step of the project is carried out with the final goal in mind.
Encouraging team bonding activities
Research shows that social interaction outside of the workplace contributes to 50% of the positive changes in communication patterns in the workplace. This means that communication and collaboration among team members get better when they grow closer.
There is a myriad of team bonding activities you can choose from - even when remote. It can significantly boost motivation and teams’ interconnectedness.
Emphasize the importance of everyone’s contribution
The very essence of workplace collaboration is the involvement of different people. Sometimes it’s just two or three people, but collaboration often includes more than that. Moreover, some people’s contributions are more prominent than others.
That’s why it’s important that leaders clearly communicate the importance of everyone’s contributions - publicly and privately. Social recognition is a powerful motivation and engagement tool.
Diversify communication and collaboration channels
When working remotely or hybrid, it’s important to remember that too much communication could be just as harmful as too little of it. To communicate effectively, it’s important to utilize both synchronous and asynchronous communication channels.
This is easily achieved if teams use collaboration software - check out our list of 17 best tools to skyrocket your collaboration efforts.
📚 Learn more about team communication best practices.
Work on improving communication skills
It’s important to notice that communication skills are always a work in progress. In other words, there is always room for improvement! To facilitate effective workplace collaboration, work on enhancing soft skills for your team members. Let them realize the power of listening and communicating clearly, and empower them to continuously improve.
Workplace collaboration is easy with Rocket.Chat
In the age of digital workplaces, it’s important to have the right technology at your side. As a workplace collaboration solution, Rocket.Chat enables teams to collaborate seamlessly - supporting chat, video, rich media files, voice messages, and more.
Apart from useful features that cater to hybrid and remote teams, Rocket.Chat doubles down on data security protocols. Check out why we are one of the best Slack alternatives on the market and start collaborating effectively today.