6 Techniques and Tools to Improve Workplace Collaboration This Year

In a perfect world, teams would work seamlessly together to deliver against their objectives and make a positive impact on the bottom line.  

Sadly, as many teams are now fragmented, located in different offices or just entirely overwhelmed with their own workloads, getting individual tasks ticked off often takes priority over collaborative working.  

We’re all well aware of the benefits that collaborative working has to offer. From greater employee motivation and skills building to greater efficiency and creativity, there is much to recommend collaborative working. Therefore, it is worth investing time and resource in tools and techniques to get your workplace collaboration firmly on track in 2020. 

For tips on how to manage a remote team, click here.

Make use of new technology  

As remote working has soared in recent months, we’re now more reliant than ever on technology to keep lines of communication open.  Of course, there is more to working collaboratively than just talking, but it’s a great place to start! Fortunately, many app developers and platforms have responded quickly to the shift to remote working provoked by the coronavirus pandemic. This means there’s a lot of new technology being launched and plenty of tools to choose from at all price points. 

Look for cloud-based platforms which allow for documents to be uploaded to a central system in real-time and allow for instant feedback. The ability to track project progress and the option to assign tasks to specific team members regardless of their physical location is also incredibly useful. This kind of functionality allows dispersed teams to work together easily, improves efficiency and keeps everyone focused on the set objective.  

If you’re looking for ways to transform your project management for the better across a certain team or business unit, take a look at:  

  • Basecamp 
  • Slack 
  • Monday.com 
  • Asana 

Universal communication  

Keeping everyone informed of any changes, tasks or updates is vital when it comes to effective collaboration – but hard to do with email alone. Communication across the team should be universal, which means that it isn’t just about what’s been said and when, but by whom.  

Perhaps one voice is overcrowding the thoughts and opinions of others? Maybe some members of the team lack the confidence to speak out to get their point across? Whatever the individual dynamics, it’s vital that everyone feels empowered to have their say for the greater good of the project. 

Any contribution, no matter how small, should be welcomed as it is this free sharing of ideas that sits at the heart of collaborative working.  

In addition to the project management tools suggested above, the following solutions are especially useful for inter-team communication: 

  • Zoom 
  • Skype 
  • WhatsApp for Business 
  • Messenger 
  • Google Meet 
  • Google Chat 

Roles and responsibility  

In order to maximize the efficiencies and effectiveness that collaborative working offers, every single team member should be aware of their own role and responsibilities.  

Give everyone full accountability for the part they play. 

Successful collaborative projects are delivered by team members who buy in to the end result, are clear on their own role and are committed to achieving a shared goal.  

It’s a good idea to provide a briefing sheet to each person with a clear definition of project objectives, the desired outcome, time frame and an overview of what part they are expected to play.  

To ensure that everything is clear, a video call with all participants at the start of the project and then periodically as it progresses is useful. Regular team briefings also allow for roles and responsibilities to be formally adjusted and any queries or concerns dealt with.  

Good video conferencing tools include: 

  • Zoom 
  • Google Meet 
  • Microsoft Teams 
  • GoToMeeting 

Include disengaged staff  

Many good employees can let their standards slip because they feel disengaged, undervalued and lack the motivation to succeed. Not only is this a waste of vital resources, but the mental and emotional toll this takes on disengaged staff can also result in higher absence rates, an increase in staff turnover and an overall negative vibe that can be felt by everyone in the workplace.   

Instead of leaving those coworkers to sink further into a disengaged state, bring them back into the fold by offering up a new challenge that focuses their attention and allows them to try out a new way of working. This is often an effective tool for reinvigorating mindsets and restoring them to their productive and happy former selves.  

Although setting them up as project leader might not be a good idea at first, giving them a level of responsibility and designated role within a wider team encourages a sense of belonging and creates a sense of value. 

A diverse team often makes for unique solutions too, so try to choose different personalities and individuals with different ways of thinking as they often yield the best results.  

Highlight the strengths of others, but don’t forget about weaknesses  

Following on from the point above, any successful collaboration should play to the strengths of each individual as well as the team as a whole.  

Try to select people that have a particular skill set, experience or knowledge base and pair them up with someone who has a different, yet equality valuable talent. 

Having people who all have strengths in one area is a sure-fire route to competitiveness and as anyone that’s ever collaborated on an important project before will know, there is no room for egos if you are to be successful in achieving your goals. 

Look at skills that complement each other and seek our traits that might fill shortcomings in others. 

For example, if you have a highly creative team player that is excellent at finding innovative solutions to problems, but perhaps not so good at organization and paperwork or reports, a natural administrator would be a great match.  

Open up a wider working community  

No matter where you work, the idea of collaboration shouldn’t be limited to individual projects.  

Promoting a wider working community network invites all members of staff to consider the part they have to play in company success, regardless of their location, role or level of seniority. 

Encouraging collaboration and therefore inclusion can result in better employee retention, fewer sick days and increased job satisfaction. Even a 10-minute morning meeting across multiple departments can help to consolidate connections between departments and show that any collaboration, regardless of how small, can make a huge difference.  

For tips on how to stay productive while working from home, click here.

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