Last Updated: September 2020
Collaboration in the workplace is nothing new.
However, it is becoming increasingly important in the modern world as we become more connected around the globe. Cloud computing and faster internet connections has given rise to tools enabling employees to collaborate with colleagues effectively, producing a more educated, skilled and engaged workforce.
Moreover, this collaboration is increasingly happening online, rather than in person.
The current worldwide pandemic has forced organisations to introduce flexible working from home arrangements for employees, and in turn, requiring collaboration to happen across geographically spread locations.
In this article, we delve into why collaboration in the workplace is important, key benefits and what you need to know.
Why collaborate? The benefits of collaboration
When working on a project, an individual often needs the input of other employees. By collaborating with others - different departments or even different offices, skills can be pooled to make the project more successful than it might otherwise be.
Employee collaboration not only equals a happier workforce, it represents an educated one.
A collaborative workplace naturally cultivates a sense of community within an organisation, with employees feeling almost like they are a part of a family. This compels them to go beyond the expectations of their role, absorbing as much organisational knowledge as possible and driving the business forward with informed and sound decisions.
The Digital Workplace
In today’s digital age, effective collaboration is increasingly achieved via the digital workplace.
Step Two Designs defines a digital workplace as a holistic set of workplace tools, platforms and environments, delivered in a coherent, usable and productive way.
A digital workplace is a place, that empowers individuals, teams, colleagues, clients and partners to share, communicate and collaborate with little to no friction, delay or challenge; allowing all these stakeholders to perform their jobs more effectively.
There are a range of digital collaboration platforms, systems and tools an organisation can and should utilise, whether it be a standalone enterprise collaboration tool or a full content management system (CMS) with a range of functionality to achieve additional business goals, such as a corporate intranet hub, with social intranet tools.
Here are some examples of enterprise social networking tools that you can consider:
- Team workspaces
- Company wiki
- Instant messaging
- Facebook-like profile pages
The benefits of collaborating using the above are fairly obvious.
Employees from different departments can add to the company wiki pages, offering a comprehensive and easily accessible resource for everyone within the organisation.
Blogging is useful internally for similar reasons to a wiki; employees with expertise in varying fields can share insights on the company blog, allowing other employees to access the information at their fingertips.
Blogs are also a great way to promote internal news, events and achievements, helping employees gain a greater understanding of what the company is doing and cultivating a positive company culture.
Online team workspaces enable members to easily participate in conversations, quickly share the most up-to-date documents and collaborate anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Fortunately these tools and many more are offered as part of a good CMS and can be utilised to create a thriving digital workplace, resulting in a happier, more collaborative and engaged workforce.
The key to success, however, depends on the implementation of a digital workplace strategy - requiring one that is capable of driving true change within the organisation
The business world is changing, whether it likes it or not, and soon we will also begin to see organisations building bigger communities which can be accessed from apps by the workforce.
According to a Gartner survey, 79% of surveyed organizations plan to increase their mobile spending by 36%. Not surprising considering mobility results in increased employee output, less inventory and fewer operational expenses.
The great news is a good CMS can help bring this about. Whilst it's thought that many enterprises will eventually have their own app stores, this isn't essential.
There are many reputable app developers around who are creating white label apps, which can be added to the company CMS, complete with branding and the addition of bespoke content.
Another consideration for using collaboration tools is that more employees are choosing to work from home. Or in the case of the pandemic, being asked to work from home for their own health and safety.
According to research carried out by Dell and Intel, more than half of all global employees believe that they are more productive when working from home than their office-based counterparts. 46% of those that work from home also said that they suffer less stress than they do when working in an office.
Furthermore, several studies including the Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work report, have found that remote employees are more satisfied and engaged, with these employees saying "they are likely to stay in their current job for the next five years 13% more than onsite workers.”
Again, this leads to greater productivity as long-term employees have a good understanding of the business, and less resources need to be put towards onboarding new employees.
For insights into choosing the best online collaboration tools for your needs, click here.
To facilitate knowledge sharing is to ensure that it is retained within the workplace, and shared among employees to help them work more effectively together.
According to Gartner, “Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”
It ensures all relevant information and resources can be access by employees when they need it.
Organisations must give employees the tools to ensure that they can share the knowledge they possess. This all leads to faster and more effective decision making and easier collaboration.
For more information on what knowledge management is and why it is important, click here.
Branding is one of the most important aspects of any organisation.
A brand represents the sum of people’s perception of the organisation, including those of their employees. A great brand not only communicates the organisation ethos instantly to employees, it can inspire them to go the extra mile as they are proud of the organisation they work for.
Therefore, collaboration tools within a CMS should be fully branded with the company logos, text, colours and so on, offering uniformity across the board.
If there are a number of offices using a CMS, it is a good idea to ensure that the solution is consistently branded so that employees share the same experience regardless of where they log in from.
Of course, functionality is even more important, but in today’s world, it pays to develop a strong brand.
Still unsure as to why you need a document management system?
Document sharing is so much easier than it used to be and it’s no longer necessary to shuffle important documents backwards and forwards with edits by email or hard copy.
A cloud-based CMS will mean that documents and projects can be stored so that they are accessible to everyone working on the project at the same time. This is great news for today’s workplace, where employees and partners tend to be scattered around the globe.
Moreover, online document management enables employees to access additional benefits such as version control, robust indexing and search capabilities and much more.
For more information on document management best practices, click here.
Video conferencing apps such as Zoom and GoToWebinar, have experienced unprecedented growth, given that a large number of office based employees are now working from home or are on flexible working arrangements.
Video conferencing apps have a number of uses for the larger company and small organisations alike, and the pandemic has shown that it is crucial to large scale remote working.
According to Lifesize, around 90% of respondents believe that video makes it easier for them to get their point across, while 89% say that video conferencing reduces the time required to complete projects or tasks too.
Not only can it be used effectively for collaboration, it can be used for board meetings, webinars, video content management and more.
Video conferencing enables employees to see one another while working remotely and helps to strengthen bonds and improve company culture. GigaOm found that 87% of remote team members say that they feel more connected to their colleagues with video conferencing.
It's another tool organisations have at their disposal that can make everyone’s job easier while improving employee engagement and reducing costs.
Even for employees who are working in the office - expensive business trips for conferences and meetings can be reduced and productivity increased as workers are capable of doing everything from their desk.
It can’t be emphasised enough how much the right tools can benefit workplace collaboration. They save time and money and lead to better growth for any organisation which uses one.
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