Collaboration in the workplace seems simple, but in practice, it tends to present some distinct obstacles. Many company departments are accustomed to working in silos, but success in the digital, global economy requires a different model. Here’s why.
Workplace collaboration extends far beyond the cooperation of a project team or a department toward a specific goal. It includes an interdisciplinary approach to business that values knowledge sharing across departments so each team can work independently and cohesively toward overall business goals. Businesses actually run much smoother in an environment that welcomes flexibility, idea sharing, and working towards a common objective. The new idea of collaboration does away with the old concept of job titles and narrowly focused job descriptions in favor of shared responsibility and decision-making.
Why Does Collaboration Work Better Than Traditional Hierarchy?
You’ve probably heard the old adage that many hands make light work—and it’s true. No one person or department has a complete skill set. Opening up the floor to a flexible, collaborative environment allows individuals within an organization to use their strengths and let someone else take the helm when needed.
Think about this example: Management wants to implement a new video collaboration system. All employees – from human resources to sales executives, marketers, accounting professionals, and others will use the program. However, management doesn’t ask for input from any of these end-users. After deployment, everyone hates the tool and finds it cumbersome. Thus, it yields no benefit
Companies that value openness during projects will overcome obstacles more quickly and often discover more cost-effective solutions. Transparency also facilitates creativity. For instance, someone who works in a retail store may form a better marketing idea than a think-tank in a corporate office because he or she works with customers every day. Collaboration allows companies to take advantage of the intellectual capital at its disposal. In turn, this creates a higher level of competition and builds customer acquisition and retention.
Make Collaboration Work for You
For some companies, opening the office doors promotes collaboration. For others, however, it means investing in collaboration tools that minimize the distance between offices, storefronts, and personnel. To make collaboration truly work well, companies should invest in a unified communications strategy. Instead of relying solely on email, in-person communication, and phone calls, unified communications means using a set of communication and collaboration solutions to make collaboration as simple and as intuitive as possible. Tools may include:
- Videoconferencing solutions. Many videoconferencing solutions currently offer a high level of integration with other communication tools such as chat, email, or workflow dashboards. Available as an on-premise, cloud, or Video as a Service (VaaS) solution, videoconferencing breaks down barriers that exist in the traditional phone, email, or webinar communications.
- Chat. Many companies realize spectacular results with chat functionality. Instead of sending an email, collaborators can intermittently discuss problems and solutions for a project. Chat also enables customer support professionals to engage with consumers on a different level.
- Collaboration tools. Some other collaboration tools allow users to work on a shared document, like Google Docs, but may also offer additional functionality for remote collaboration.
Collaboration is different from encouraging teamwork. It requires all participants to engage with one another on a new level, respect individual skill sets, and work towards a goal from an even playing field. Start using collaboration today to improve employee morale, inspire employee and customer loyalty, and drive business success.