7 ways to improve employee collaboration
Working together is a certainty. Even if you work alone the majority of the time, you will occasionally need to communicate with other team members. But effective teamwork is a different matter.
When a team works well together, projects are completed more quickly, the caliber of the work improves, and everyone feels included. However, the growth of remote and hybrid work has brought about new difficulties for employee collaboration: Can a team function effectively without ever having met in person?
They can if you give them the right conditions for success. You can make sure your team has resources like messaging apps and project management systems that promote and enhance employee collaboration as an HR manager or team leader. Additionally, you can aggressively hire fresh individuals who have good teamwork skills.
But what if you had more options? What if you could take specific actions to make sure that office collaboration and synergy are ingrained in the very fabric of your business?
Whether your employees are seated across the office or on opposite ends of the world, we’ve included some suggestions in this post to help you increase employee collaboration.
What does cooperation at work entail?
Working collaboratively on a project is simply one aspect of collaboration at work. It involves having the ability to ask for assistance or brainstorm, as well as to frequently and naturally exchange ideas and talents.
When this spirit of synergy permeates every aspect of the employee experience, which Gartner defines as “how employees internalize and interpret the interactions they have with and within their organization and the contexts that influence those interactions,” a work environment is truly collaborative.
And it’s now more crucial than ever to have a positive employee experience.
The way employees connect with their organizations and coworkers has evolved with the emergence of remote and hybrid workplaces. The distinction between our identities at home and work is becoming less clear as lines are blurred. Fostering positive connections and open communication among staff members is no longer just a “nice to have”; rather, it can now make or break someone’s day and impact their performance.
Collaboration at work is advantageous for both the work itself and the employees. Finding innovative solutions is simpler when people from all backgrounds, with various skill sets, and with various ideas come together in a setting where everyone is appreciated and encouraged to speak up. Projects that are challenging are finished more quickly and effectively.
Employees are more likely to be productive and engage at higher levels when they feel appreciated. Higher levels of involvement, according to Gallup, are associated with 41% reduced absenteeism, 24% lower turnover, 17% higher productivity, and 21% higher profitability. Not bad, you’d say?
Better teamwork and communication at work are where it all begins.
7 suggestions for enhancing staff cooperation
How then can you make sure your workplace is truly collaborative, especially if your team is made up of both office-based staff and remote workers?
Here are 7 techniques to increase teamwork and staff collaboration:
1. Introduce the situation with onboarding
One of the processes that underwent significant change as a result of the epidemic was onboarding. In this new world of work, remote onboarding was cited by 60% of HR managers as the biggest adjustment, according to a Google survey.
But now more than ever, proper onboarding is crucial.
Whether the recruit is an in-office hiring or a remote job, your onboarding process may seem different, but it shouldn’t “feel” different. Your onboarding program should assist new hires in becoming acquainted with not only their upcoming responsibilities but also the corporate culture and their coworkers—even those they won’t necessarily be working closely with. Online contact options for staff members who won’t be able to meet in person should be established at the outset.
Your new hires should ideally learn these things during onboarding:
That your organization values teamwork
How they might inform the team that they will be attending training with their new coworkers
what will be covered in their training and why
Setting the groundwork for a collaborative, ongoing learning process is crucial because, according to research from Bytecasting LMS and SHRM, 76% of employees are more inclined to stick with a company that provides ongoing training.
2. Eliminate the email restriction
The email simply won’t do great workplace collaboration because it makes it difficult for employees to communicate with one another.
Even in hybrid workplaces, asking for assistance can still be done informally by approaching a person’s desk. Even at a distance, many tools can promote employee collaboration, but employees need to know when to use which ones.
Knowing when and how to contact coworkers will be simpler for those who create a communication plan. In light of this, choose things like:
What matters demands a face-to-face discussion? (on IRL or Zoom)
What issues can be discussed in a special Slack/Discord channel to be resolved?
What justifies using direct messaging on platforms like Slack, Skype, Google Chat, Whatsapp, etc.?
What information can be simply communicated asynchronously on a collaborative document like Google Docs or in a project management environment like Asana?
Do any of the aforementioned activities need to be “off-limits” at certain hours or days?
Employees will use both synchronous and asynchronous communication depending on the circumstance and if there is a communication plan in place. It upholds crucial limits while preventing remote workers from feeling lonely or thinking their coworkers are hard to get in touch with. And sharing ideas and seeking assistance becomes a lot simpler when people know how and when to approach one another.
3. Put responsibility and effectiveness first.
Spending more time working on a job together does not necessarily result in more effective collaboration, as anyone who has ever sat through a three-hour meeting in a meeting room will attest to.
Monitoring the amount of time spent on each activity and the effectiveness of teamwork is one technique to enhance staff collaboration. Hubstaff and Toggl, two examples of project management software that also have time tracking features, can be useful.
Even more beneficial are time limits for meetings and brainstorming sessions, defined assignment deadlines, and a plan of action for when an employee is having difficulty with any aspect of the process.
4. Promote asynchronous and hybrid brainstorming sessions
Speaking about brainstorming meetings, another procedure that changed as a result of the epidemic.
Brainstorming sessions would happen in a conference room when everyone collaborated from the same office, either on a scheduled basis or ad hoc. But to keep that structure, people who work remotely or have flexible hours must suddenly be excluded.
When it comes to your team members, “out of sight” shouldn’t equate to “out of mind.” Remote workers can participate in discussions and decision-making when hybrid brainstorming sessions are encouraged. Make sure to solicit feedback from individuals who are engaging remotely so that they don’t feel excluded when some people participate in brainstorming over Zoom while others join from the office.
Another effective strategy to enhance employee engagement, particularly in dispersed teams, is to hold asynchronous brainstorming sessions. All you require are the proper tools. A dedicated Slack/Discord channel, a Figma layout where people can edit or add suggestions, or even just a Google Doc where everyone can post comments and expand on their colleagues’ input are some examples of such tools.
In case someone can’t attend a meeting but wants to catch up later, always record meetings or write down what was said.
5. Provide possibilities for hangouts outside of work
Some of our best thoughts have occurred to us over lunch or on a walk. Similar to this, some of the most innovative work collaborations take place while team members are simply chatting and not working on anything.
While your staff doesn’t need to be close friends, getting together for a meal, a yoga session, or even just a cup of coffee outside of the office may go a long way toward fostering a sense of familiarity, which will ultimately make it simpler to request assistance with a project at work.
Additionally, non-work hangouts can be held online even though it is impossible to do so in person when participants are working from different cities, nations, or even time zones. For those times when employees wish to connect outside of office hours or for other purposes unrelated to work, like a virtual coffee meet, you may, for example, set up a Discord server or a specific Zoom link.
6. Encourage team learning
You are already aware of how crucial team training is: According to data from Bytecasting and SHRM, 85% of HR leaders believe that training contributes to company growth.
Additionally, even if your team is dispersed, collaboration is still possible and encouraged during training. Not only is group learning more effective since humans are social creatures, but it’s also a terrific method to foster camaraderie and foster relationships. similar to honing teamwork in a low-risk setting.
However, learning with others goes beyond organizing mandatory lectures on Zoom. While instructor-led training should, of course, be a component of your program, make sure to include group activities. These can range from issues that staff members must work together to solve to Jeopardy-style tests that they can participate in. Another option is to designate one team member as the mentor of a smaller group of teammates.
At the end of the day, team-building exercises are fantastic if you also want to increase employee collaboration.
7. Walk the talk
If HR managers and team leaders aren’t personally open to communication and cooperation, they can’t assist employees in creating a culture of reaching out and working together. Make sure you’re available for conversations when people need them and provide a safe atmosphere where individuals can express their thoughts without worrying about being judged.
This is not always intuitive, especially if you are used to a more traditional hierarchical structure or come from a workplace that places higher importance on competitiveness than on teamwork. Therefore, even for high-level management, it is crucial to receive training on collaborative working and how to use technology to remove any barriers.
Starting at the top, one may foster teamwork in the company.
Workplace collaboration should be organic, not forced.
Collaboration among employees needs to be commonplace in your workplace. Forced hobbies or one-time projects won’t work. You must provide the proper framework and facilitate communication for both office and remote employees.
It’s important to provide opportunities for continued collaboration and information sharing among team members if you want to establish a truly collaborative office.
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