The workforce has changed rapidly in the past few years and managers have had to adapt to modern working trends, such as remote workers. In our article ‘10 Best Practices for Managing Remote Teams’ we outlined how companies can ensure remote workers are productive and engaged. With many workers now either working from home or only communicating via digital platforms, collaboration has become a big challenge for companies. In this post we will discuss 5 ways to inspire collaboration in the modern workplace.
Make collaboration part of workplace culture Competition can drive team members forward, but is unhealthy in the long term says Beyond Measure author Dr. Margaret Heffernan. She explained that “the most productive workplaces are characterized by trust and helpfulness.” Therefore, you need to foster a culture that encourages teamwork. Dr. Heffernan suggests that you first provide "a safe space" where everyone is encouraged, if not empowered, to take part in company meetings and pitch in their ideas. This is especially crucial in high-pressure industries like business or law. Special Counsel explains how collaboration often leads to innovative solutions and helps a team reach their full potential. Sharing ideas is particularly important, as it will help you take advantage of the intellectual capital of each team member. A company should always emphasize the importance of collaboration and how it can drive both the company and employees forward.
Trust matters, so build it An infographic from The Business Backer shows that trust is vital in the workplace with 93% of employees saying that it is essential to work satisfaction. It is crucial to foster a healthy workplace culture, which you cannot do if your team does not trust you. It is imperative that you build trust among your peers through listening to them and being open and honest. Another good way to establish trust is to socialize with them, so they can relate to you on a personal level. A manager that is trusted by his team will find it much easier to inspire them to collaborate.
Schedule some team building activities Collaboration needs to be encouraged and one of the best ways to do this is through team building activities. Inc. notes that team building activities can positively transform a company’s culture by "re-infusing a sense of vitality and engagement between employees who rarely have the opportunity to connect with one another." In a modern working environment it is easy for different areas of the workforce to not communicate with each other, either for work or socially. This lack of contact can cause issues that could easily be solved through communication. Company wide team building will help encourage collaboration across all areas of a company.
Ensure communication channels are open The modern workplace needs platforms that allow employees to contact each other with ease. Collaboration software like Slack, Flock, and Microsoft Team allows fast, convenient communication and file sharing, while platforms like Google Drive give everyone real-time access to documents. By using these innovations you keep communication lines open, ensure all team members are in the loop, and offer a way for work and ideas to be shared. These collaboration tools are especially critical for remote work setups.
But make personal interaction just as important Global business consultant Michael Landers underscores the importance of face-to-face interactions by noting that it eliminates miscommunication and misinterpretation. “When you’re not seeing someone, the chances of miscommunication between individuals and groups increase greatly,” explains Landers. He accentuates his point by noting how "there’s so much more that’s open for interpretation” when communication is done by phone, text, or email. A lack of face time is common in modern workplaces as employees often only communicate using emails or messages. While those are key for collaboration, face-to-face meetings will also help provide a greater platform for employees to be more open.
Building a culture of collaboration takes time, and the tips on this list will get your team started. We suggest you start building that culture now in order to increase productivity, foster relationships, and inspire collaboration.
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