Why is Collaboration Important [Workplace Collaboration 101]

Mike Kulakov, September 9, 2020
why is collaboration important

What could be more beneficial for your business than a strong team of professionals who know their work? A strong team of professionals that collaborates!

Why is collaboration so important, you ask? Collaboration encourages your team members to work towards one goal in the most efficient and sustainable way possible, without needing to be forced to cooperate.

That’s why we wrote this article — to help you to build a successful collaboration culture in your company!

Collaboration Among Employees vs Teamwork: Are They the Same Thing?

There is a clear distinction between teamwork and collaboration in project management. Let’s take a closer look at what these terms mean for you and your company!

Teamwork entails that a team works together to fulfill project goals and objectives. Each professional has their own responsibilities. A team leader guides the working process and resolves problems and conflicts. Team participants have to fulfill their roles, but don’t have to share common values.

Collaboration involves a deeper level of engagement than the “traditional” teamwork. Collaborators can settle issues and disputes without the leader’s mediation as they share the same values. The team leader performs the function of guidance, acting more as an adviser rather than a controller.

Although this type of team interaction takes a lot of work to be established, it is a far more efficient, flexible, and sustainable way for teams to work together.

“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

Charles Darwin

Why is Collaboration so Important?

In their day-to-day business, companies face lots of issues and situations that require swift solutions. Most of these solutions are provided by team members. In teamwork, communication is the factor that defines the success of meeting challenges. 

Collaboration and communication have a strong link. According to a Slack survey on collaboration, nearly every worker in 7,000 surveyed in 17 countries stated that easy communication with their colleagues is the main factor of ‘good collaboration’. Therefore, the success of any business relies on establishing healthy and strong relationships among team members and creating a good collaboration environment. 

Collaborative communication has a positive impact on the business and its employees. It helps to:

  • Improve problem-solving as your employees more freely share their knowledge and can find unconventional solutions to the issues in collaboration groups;
  • Enhance interpersonal relationships in the team that improve communication;
  • Create a positive view of the workplace. Good communication establishes a safe working environment in the office and employees are more willing to come to work every day. It reduces turnover and employees tend to have less sick days or days-off;
  • Improves productivity, making employees more likely to engage in the working process Their work becomes not an obligation but an interesting thing to do;
  • Encourages employees to self-analyze their strong and weak points and competencies at work;
  • Helps employees to see the bigger picture of the projects they are working on. Collaborative communication defines employees’ responsibilities and shows their part is in achieving project goals. 

How to Create an Effective Workplace Collaboration Environment

There are a lot of things a company can do to promote professional collaboration among their employees. However, the specifics of establishing collaboration at the workplace will depend on the team size, whether your team works remotely or in an office, the number of departments, and others.

If you want to foster a collaborative spirit at the workplace, then below are some effective methods to consider!

Create a positive working environment

This can include organizing interior design like arranging a separate lounge area for coffee breaks, establishing a communication corporate culture like encouraging active listening or special meetings to greet newcomers in the company. It’s also a great idea to organize team-building activities to get team members to know each other better:

Foster psychological safety

The atmosphere in a workplace means a lot. Your employees shouldn’t be afraid of sharing their ideas, looking unprofessional, or making mistakes. An overly authoritative working style can ruin trust among employees, putting them under pressure and making them survive, not thrive at work. For this, you need to encourage the development of horizontal communication and transparency among your employees when everyone feels equal and treated fairly.

Evidently, even at Google (according to their own research), levels of psychological safety varied greatly from team to team, and it made a lot of difference in their performance:

Improve your meeting efficiency

Meetings can be disruptive to the employees’ productivity and as a result rather irritating. Employees get distracted in the middle of the working process and it’s difficult to get the focus back after. That’s why it’s important to assess the actual need for a meeting before calling one, and make sure to make them meaningful and productive. Don’t forget to include brain-storming activities and keep the meetings interactive to let your employees speak and be heard.

Allow some creative freedom and autonomy

The more you try to establish control over your employees, the less they feel secure enough to express themselves. It’s a sure way to kill creativity. That’s why it’s important to let your experienced employees choose their own working style.

There are still ways to manage employees in a more gentle way. For example, simple time tracking vs. “spying” apps and letting them define their activities for the day that are aligned with the business goals on their own.

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Reward your employees for collaboration

Once you gather a new team and its members start solving problems without any supervision above, it’s time to stimulate the collaborative efforts. This could be done in the form of encouraging messages, letting them decide on their working schedule, or simply making a small event, inviting all the team to celebrate!

What About Remote Team Collaboration?

Establishing collaboration with a remote team can be a bit harder as the employees don’t meet each other face to face. Therefore, collaboration is heavily based on communication and the choice of the right tools and solutions for effective collaboration, including:

  1. Project management tools to allocate workload and track progress;
  2. All-in-one time tracking tool to ensure that your employees work during the set working time and meet deadlines successfully;
  3. The right software and solutions for instant and delayed group communication.

If you are running both an office and a remote or part-time team, it’s a good idea to get your remote team acquainted with your in-house team for better communication and collaboration. So, when arranging team-building activities or parties in your office, don’t forget to invite your remote employees!

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Workplace Collaboration Issues & How to Avoid or Fix Them

When shifting corporate culture towards collaborative teamwork, you may run into some challenges. Some employees that are accustomed to working in an old-fashioned style may get lost in new conditions. You need to provide them with support and introduce the changes slowly. Here is what you can do:

👉 Carefully select members for your team. Relationships in a team are defined by its team members, their working style, world outlook, and temper. It’s hard to establish a collaborative spirit in a team whose members have totally different mindsets and views.

👉 Have face-to-face conversations. Although digital communication tools greatly expand throughout offices, it’s still important to have individual conversations with your employees. Most of them are usually willing to share the difficulties they encounter and you can help to resolve them during a private talk.

👉 Teach your team the ‘disagree and commit’ principle. It states that every employee should be heard if they oppose any ideas. At the same time, once most of the team agree on any decision, each team member should commit to it, even if they aren’t entirely happy about it.

👉 Make collaboration culture a prime goal of your company. Once you decide to establish collaborative rules, they should be applicable to the whole company, not a particular team. Collaboration principles have to become a strong company policy company (with its leaders representing a role model for others) for the employees to follow and internalize the new culture of collaboration. 

To Wrap It All Up…

Collaboration is a great driving force that can help your business develop and grow quickly. It’s based on establishing healthy communication among employees and results in increased productivity and better problem solving. All these have a positive effect on the business’s overall performance and customer satisfaction.

If you decided to start a collaborative culture in your company, we hope that this article was useful and informative for you. Now you know more about how to effectively bring your team together, what makes it tick, and how to get more from your employees!

Mike Kulakov

IT entrepreneur, executive and a former engineer. Responsible for company growth as well as the team’s motivation. Big fan of playing tennis, snowboarding, traveling, reading books, and (of course) I live and breathe our product.