The meaning and importance of 'Workplace Collaboration' has changed drastically over the last few months. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organizations across the globe conduct daily business, and this calls for newer, more intelligent ways of running daily ops and especially calls for more efficient methods of communication between teams and team members.
But it's not just the pandemic that has given rise to this need for more modern collaboration processes and tools. Businesses today are much larger and diverse, and also dispersed around the world. And we already know that leaders are not born, they are made. And thus, managing a large workforce that works from different locations is not easy. In this article, we cover all the little nuances and methods of establishing a highly productive workplace environment.
But first, it's important to understand how crucial it is to perfect employee collaboration within an organization.
Why should you care about Workplace Collaboration?
Because collaboration makes cool workplaces
About 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”, yet only 18% of employees get communication evaluations at their performance reviews. A company with good collaboration processes can recruit talent from anywhere in the world. This opens up opportunities to fill a role with the best-suited candidate. Building a team of highly talented individuals, no doubt, will greatly improve productivity and quality of delivery. The important factor, however, is that the organization ensures these teams can collaborate without hiccups.
Because better Collaboration = More Accountability
Without strong collaboration, it's difficult for employees to understand the impact of their work on the team and the project. This can lead to tardiness and a lack of responsibility. If an employee does not know that the project is getting affected by their work, they are not going to be driven to be more efficient.
A collaborative process like a simple daily stand-up meeting (online or offline) will make employees accountable for their actions and work, which will automatically drive them to be more productive.
Because Right Timing removes delays and delivers results
The number one reason for delayed delivery of projects, especially when remote teams are involved, is the lack of transparent communication. Sometimes it's time zone conflicts, and sometimes, it's carelessness, but it's always disastrous for timelines.
Communication challenges can easily be overcome with proper collaboration processes. Using messaging platforms like Zippi instead of email, for example, is a simple way to expedite communication between team members. Using bots for asynchronous communication is another way to bridge the gap between disjointed teams. All of this results in smoother workflows and faster delivery of projects.
What happens when there is zero Workplace Collaboration?
Lack of direction!
Without a strong collaboration system in place, it is difficult for top-level management to effectively communicate and direct the teams. Either the message doesn't get through, gets diluted, or gets misinterpreted. All of these can lead to ambiguity and hence delay in the execution of plans and strategies.
Misinformation & wastage of efforts
One harmful outcome of the poor collaboration is misinformation. The project or client's need is sometimes not correctly interpreted by the team, and the mistake is only identified after tasks are delivered. This results in wasted time and effort – a wastage that can be eliminated by putting in place transparent communication processes.
It’s not really a TEAM
Poor collaboration leads to employees feeling isolated. They don't feel part of a team and don't feel the impact of their contribution to the project or organization. This results in a lack of mental and emotional investment in the organization and impacts the outcomes.
How to build Excellent Workplace Collaboration?
Find a tool – That is simple to use and easy to onboard users
Now that you have understood the repercussions of ineffective workplace collaboration. It’s time that we think about what our teams want and how should we deliver it to them. The basis of a great collaboration depends upon the ease of onboarding, simple workflows, self-explanatory user interface to focus on getting this done. The essence of collaboration lies in the idea of getting along your external network of employees, freelancers, vendors on board without any hassle of creating work email ids whatsoever.
In BFSI, almost 70% of distributed employees do not have official email ids, check out how zippi solved collaboration puzzle for them.
Download the Case Study: How Cholamandalam collaborated with its last-mile employees during the lockdown.
Define the Collaboration Charter that works best for your teams
The next step is to define a collaboration charter i.e. the purpose of the interactions between the members of a team, department, and primary stakeholders. Teams should come together for tackling specific deliverables and must be clear about their roles and responsibilities. This becomes even more important with teams working remotely and not interacting directly. It revolves around bringing people from different teams to come together for a common goal, making collaborative decisions, and sharing feedbacks.
Facilitate Transparent Communication
Communication is a separate and important factor today because nearly every team in the world today employs one or more remote workers. At the very least, they allow employees to work-from-home. As teams veer away from offices and cubicles, communication gaps emerge, and communication is probably the most important need for efficient teamwork.
Putting in place systems that facilitate constant and productive communication is key to having a collaborative workforce. We mentioned Zippi before, which is a real-time messaging platform that the entire team can use to stay connected. Many such tools allow text, audio, and video communication, so teams can stay connected at all times.
Centralize Data Access
Data sharing becomes time and effort consuming task, especially when teams are dispersed. Employees need to find out who has the data they need, how to transfer it, and then actually get it. This rigmarole can be avoided by centralizing organizational data. Not to mention, this is also the more secure and safe option for data transfer.
There are simple cloud solutions that can be used for free or more complex options like setting up an organizational server farm that employees connect to. Irrespective of the method, data centralization facilitates better workplace collaboration.
Clearing the clutter!
Whatever collaboration tool a team or company is using, it is there to give you a better overview and understanding of what you are doing and what your employees are doing or what the other teams are doing and how you all can work in harmony. Technology today makes collaboration easy.
Tools that help teams communicate in real-time and asynchronously and stay connected during work hours are the ones that we need right now. Numerous slivered tools solve various aspects of workplace collaboration such as communication and data transfers, project/task management, performance tracking, audio/video conferencing.
Slack – A collaboration platform for text-based communication, audio calls, and video conferences. Entire teams can be on-boarded and then divided into groups by channels. Conversations within channels stay private, and employees can also have one-to-one conversations.
Microsoft Teams or Zoom – Both are excellent video conferencing tools that have free and paid versions (depending on the size of your team and the features you need). With easy-to-use interfaces and features like file sharing and text chats, these become important for real-time collaboration.
Dropbox or Google Drive – While the best method of centralizing data and facilitating sharing is by setting up an internal server, that can be an expensive option. For smaller organizations, leveraging cloud solutions like Dropbox or Google Drive is the more efficient option.
Trello – There are many multi-featured project management tools available today, but for teams looking for a simple solution to track tasks, Trello works perfectly. With an easy-to-use Kanban board, teams can drag-and-drop tasks across the workflow. This creates high project visibility for the entire team, especially since it is visual.
The Big Question – Do you feel overwhelmed with all these individual platforms?
And What if there’s an All-Encompassing Collaboration Solution?
While all the above are great collaboration tools, implementing many can turn out to do more harm than good. As the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth. A smarter solution is to implement one collaboration tool that can provide the benefits of many –
- Communication platform
- Data sharing
- Task management
- Recruiting & hiring
- Lead nurturing
- Ticketing & customer support
- Knowledge sharing
And more. Zippi is a collaboration tool that does exactly that. Zippi facilitates secure collaboration between multiple organizational teams – IT, Marketing, HR, Support, engineering, and more. Zippi also houses an AI-powered – Personal Assistant to deliver everything you need to get work done.