“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” ~ Henry Ford
Group work is key to organizational success, although many struggle to create effective collaborative spaces. But it is more important than ever to have a collaborative workspace these days. Almost all businesses are looking for ways to leverage collaboration in order to stimulate innovation and progress as well as to address sustainability concerns and boost the bottom line. And workplace transformation comes as the most viable solution.
Recently, we are also experiencing a significant increase in workplace transformation, especially due to the technological advances. But there are other motivations as well that drive businesses towards this upgradation. According to a McKinsey study, businesses can achieve annual value of around $900 billion to $1.3 trillion by improving their productivity across the value chain via enhanced communication and collaboration skills.
It is therefore no surprize that companies are now liberating their employees from the traditional office and providing with a greater degree of flexibility in where, how and when they work. But wanting to upgrade to collaborative workspace is just the first step of your workplace transformation and doing it and maintaining it for a long haul is easier said than done.
In this post, we have put together a few steps to help you create a more collaborative workspace to enhance your team’s performance:
Creating the Right Opportunity
It is of paramount importance to create the appropriate opportunity for your collaborative workspace. But to create that you first need to understand what is collaboration. It is nothing but seamless conversations between people with one objective in mind. A collaborative workspace is therefore one that moves people towards a common goal such as innovation and improved performance.
In order to collaborate better, it is essential for businesses to create the right opportunities for their employees to meet and exchange ideas, issues, knowledge, experience and documents etc. in both formal and informal manner.
While meetings, conferences, training and Q/A sessions provide a formal platform for your people to meet, share, collaborate and communicate, casual events like weekend outings and team lunches also provide apt opportunities to talk and share ideas. In fact, as an entrepreneur it is your duty to ensure that your people are actually communicating in both formal and informal manner with each other.
The goal here is to encourage an atmosphere of learning while ensuring that your people feel comfortable reaching out each other with queries, ideas, suggestions and comments. Such conversations should take place on regular basis and should not be confined within team members but extended to cross-functional teams.
Creating such collaborative workspace where members from different teams reach out and help each other in ways you never thought otherwise possible can open up new avenues, improving performance, creativity, productivity and motivation throughout the organization.
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Information should be Available to Everyone
A study conducted by Socialtext indicates that employees tend to spend almost 25 percent of their working hours looking for information, meaning employees are wasting that 25 percent of their staff cost because they fail to provide the information their employees are looking for, when they want it.
You should perhaps change your approach then to avoid this wastage and also to facilitate a better learning environment. Making information available to all your employees is as easy as using the right tool(s) and the right processes.
Some companies believe in maintaining fully transparent email strategy so that everyone in their teams can stay in the loop, should they want to. However, other prefer to maintain an information archive, ensuring that all the required data is just a search away. But having an information archive is not enough for a collaborative workspace. You will also need a collaborative board where you can share the information while working together in that very platform.
To create a collaborative workspace it is of paramount importance to relay critical messages in real-time in order to make different streams of information available to your team members and give them required insights without needing them to clutter their inboxes.
Encourage Your People to Look Beyond Their Job Description
For creating a perfect collaborative workspace, you need to encourage your people to work with cross-functional teams outside of their job description. This will not only profit your company and the team, but also be beneficial to your employees by enabling them to enhance their knowledge and experience.
For example, you can ask your customer support team member to participate on product meetings to share the insights they have or vice versa. Similarly, your sales and marketing team can help you critically analyze the new designs and give better insights to your engineers in terms of customers’ perceptions.
While it is outside their usual context, but encouraging your employees to work beyond their job description will definitely spark their creativity and at the same time push your organizational innovation and collaboration at least a step forward.
Enhance Your Employees’ Collaboration Skills
Amilya Antonetti in her book “The Recipe: A Fable for Leaders and Teams” illustrates how one can develop his/her natural leadership skills and also extends on how to build a great collaborative team. The secret recipe to enhance your people’s collaboration skills lies in building and maintaining a feeling of trust. It is hard to build and takes consistent actions from your part but if done right, it will help your team to raise and address all key issues to win.
In process, there will be conflict but you need to take in on a positive and constructive way. Conflicts are normal and not necessarily a fight. Instead of aggression and emotional disagreement that are typical of a fight, conflicts require factual push that lead forward to consensus. You need to understand this and also explain your employees the same in order to create a collaborative environment. Remember that you have a common goal to achieve and it is pretty natural to have different views on how to do it.
The important element of collaboration is probably your capacity to embrace change. In corporate world, change is the only constant and you need to leverage it instead of whining about it. Help your team understand that change is necessary, especially when you bring in a new tool/system to establish a better level of structure, analysis, and control.
Collaboration is a tricky matter. You need the support from your entire team to implement it successfully. Going too fast or too strong can make your people go panicky. A better approach is to convince them to gradually adopt the new habits you are implementing and also show what’s in it for them. Explain them how it is more about improving motivation, innovation and productivity and has nothing to do with micro-managing. After all a collaborative workspace is about getting the work done and in the best possible way.
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