Collaboration has become such a buzzword, that we don’t often stop to actually ask ourselves: Why is collaboration important in the workplace?
Depending on who you ask, you might get different answers—largely because the benefits of a collaborative workplace are so wide ranging.
At its core, collaborative working should help improve company culture and productivity, while also helping create more empowerment in the workplace. Of course, this can only happen when organizations support their employees with the right collaboration tools and work environment types.
In this article, we answer the question—why is collaboration important in the workplace?
Insights, tactics, and strategies from today’s workplace
leaders on how they’re shifting the office to better
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Collaboration is about employees with different skills coming together in an open-minded way to solve problems, address issues, or share ideas, all with an eye to the bigger picture.
Good collaboration in the workplace can improve workflows and workplace experience, making it critical for all organizations—even, and perhaps especially, for those with remote teams.
As people’s skill sets get increasingly specialized, collaboration as a practice becomes more important than ever.Corey Moseley, Jostle
As people’s skill sets get increasingly specialized, collaboration as a practice becomes more important than ever.
Collaborative workspaces, where even remote employees have a sense of purpose and camaraderie, are also more effective and productive, making them critical for the bottom line.
Meanwhile, 86% of business leaders and employees alike cite a lack of collaboration as the main reason for workplace failures.
In short, creating a more collaborative environment provides a host of benefits to any organization. So much so that it’s difficult to overstate the importance of collaboration at work.
The most successful workplace teams are those that work together on a common goal. That’s why everyone on your entire team needs good communication tools and policies to help foster more collaboration.
When done well, virtual collaboration can produce new ideas and innovative solutions that can meet or even surpass business objectives.Devon Maloney, Slack
When done well, virtual collaboration can produce new ideas and innovative solutions that can meet or even surpass business objectives.
It’s a simple fact: when more eyes are on a project, more solutions will emerge. That’s because collaboration doesn’t mean that someone else might have more know-how or a better idea than you. It means that when a group of people comes together with clear goals, good collaboration skills, and the right management tools, brainstorming sessions tend to take on a life of their own. When you share knowledge, better ideas will emerge versus what any single contributor might have come up with on their own.
This in turn can lead to more ‘big picture’ thinking. Employees can be working with a higher awareness of what others are doing. When everyone works to share information better, everyone can also better adjust their own strategies accordingly.
All these factors combined can spur problem solving and innovation in the workplace. It’s why Steve Jobs famously had a ‘no silo’ rule, designing his offices to spark better and more unplanned, face-to-face collaboration. And pushing his teams to work as “one cohesive and flexible company.”
In fact, when taking over Pixar, Jobs famously redesigned their offices to bring animators, executives, and editors under one roof, leading to Pixar’s chief creative officer John Lasseter declaring, “I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.”
When everyone in a workspace is clear and transparent with what they are doing and what they expect from each other, it helps employees to actually achieve what they set out to do. Good collaboration coupled with the right collaboration platform is what allows employees and teams across different departments to pinpoint exactly what they need to do to achieve both individual and team goals.
In short, with team collaboration tools and good communication in place, the awareness of what each team or individual is doing and what they’re providing to the overall goal becomes clearer. This in turn allows everyone to have full transparency around what they need to personally deliver as a result.
Simply put, team members who better understand all the moving parts of their organization are the foundation for more collaborative teams.
Remember that the majority of people in the workplace blame workplace mistakes—which are almost always costly—on a lack of collaboration.
A collaborative environment also helps lower costs, shorten timelines, improve productivity and increase return on investment (ROI) by connecting various teams in complex business and cultural environments to promote common goals, foster shared values and build relationships.Ashish Deshpande, CMSWire
A collaborative environment also helps lower costs, shorten timelines, improve productivity and increase return on investment (ROI) by connecting various teams in complex business and cultural environments to promote common goals, foster shared values and build relationships.
On the flip side, with the right collaboration and project management, there can be less lost time and duplication of work. In fact, one study of 1,1000 companies found that collaboration improves performance by 5 times.
The results can be teams and employees that are much more productive than they would be otherwise, whether working on personal or group projects.
Employees who are talking to each other are ones who are learning from each other. This makes collaboration and team building activities critical to improved mentorship.
According to research in the Harvard Business Review, 40% of employees at one Fortune 500 company wanted to spend more time training and mentoring. Plus, those that do get to spend this time coaching their fellow employees were less prone to stress and disengagement.
Better team communication can help break down barriers between employees with different backgrounds or from different generations in the workplace. It can be nerve wracking to speak to someone you don’t know well. This is why companies need to use the right messaging and collaboration software to make this easier.
We’ve learned from the pandemic that not only is in-person collaboration important, it’s also what most employees want, at least in some capacity. This isn’t surprising, since collaborative employees are 17% more satisfied with their jobs.
With more real-time talking and collaboration, people naturally start to care more about their work and the company. Plus, having a buddy at work just makes the day better. In fact, according to Gallup research, when women have a best friend at work, they are 63% more likely to be engaged at work than women without one.
Collaboration doesn’t just improve employee engagement. It can also help improve employee experience, therefore helping to increase employee retention, too.
In fact, companies can reduce employee turnover rates by 50% when they better promote collaboration. This makes it critical for any organization concerned with surviving the Great Resignation. Because of the increase in employee engagement, workers will want to stick around longer. This results in a higher level of retention for the company overall.
Healthy employee collaboration practices make workers happier too.Jennifer Phillips, Slack
Healthy employee collaboration practices make workers happier too.
More collaboration ultimately means that people are getting more involved in both their roles and in the company. Collaborative behavior and more friendly and informal conversations can lead to a better understanding of how the entire company works.
At the end of the day, companies need to make money. And at the end of the day, it’s often collaboration that helps them do so easily and reliably.
It can be difficult to pinpoint specific benefits of collaboration for any organization. It’s when they’re combined that they create the whole picture.
Place your focus on building trust, committing to systems put in place and creating a culture where teammates support each other. Devon Maloney, Slack
Place your focus on building trust, committing to systems put in place and creating a culture where teammates support each other.
When you factor in the fact that there’s fewer mistakes and time wasted, more alignment between individual goals and overall company goals, higher productivity, happier workers and more innovation, you start to get the picture of how better collaboration can help companies both save and make more money.
And as we’ll explore next, better collaboration is best accomplished with the right collaboration strategies.
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The key to effective collaboration is making it a priority. This includes creating a workplace that is fit for purpose. Employees need spaces that allow for both teamwork and focused, private work, as well as tools that streamline online collaboration.
Workplace collaboration is about more than file sharing, Zoom calls, and active listening. It’s about using the right workplace strategies and software. This will build trust and create successful teams that are greater than the sum of their parts.
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