The collaboration hype
If it seems like collaboration has been garnering a lot of buzz lately, you’re not mistaken. While group work has always been encouraged in educational and professional environments, it’s gained significant traction in recent years.
"...collaboration really started 10 years ago. It's something early adopters were experimenting with."
These early adopters were likely to find themselves on the receiving end of a host of advantages, according to research. Benjamin F. Jones, a professor at Northwestern University, examined 30 years-worth of scientific papers and found that collaboration amongst scientists grew steadily from the 1950s onwards. Researchers who worked in teams were not only likely to publish more papers but also created documents that were heavily cited and thus more impactful.
"Now teams always have a higher home-run probability than solo."
The rise of collaboration isn’t just an academic phenomenon; virtually every industry needs teamwork to succeed. For example, in many enterprises, HR executives are partnering with IT to tackle employee engagement. As workers continue to specialize, the need for cross-functional collaboration is only likely to grow. Consequently, the time is now to reinforce efficient pathways for group work that will empower an enterprise for years to come.
Collaboration in the digital age
Specialization isn't the only change impacting the way we work. With technological innovation moving at an unprecedented pace, enterprises can now capitalize on digital solutions that transform employee experience.
These enhancements have given rise to digital workplaces, which Gartner defines as
"an ongoing, deliberate approach to delivering a more consumer-like computing environment that is better able to facilitate innovative and flexible working practices."
As this quote illustrates, digital workplaces are more than a mass collection of tools: they are strategic initiatives designed to promote productivity and success through choice technologies and solutions.
Collaboration is one of the key components that digital workplaces can transform. These solutions have the power to maximize knowledge sharing by offering employees best-in-class tools that optimize group-working procedures.
The benefits of a collaborative workforce
Effective teamwork can have a multitude of pay-offs for both enterprises and employees. Some of the key benefits include:
Maximize knowledge sharing
Enterprises can only perform at peak efficiency when ideas flow freely. To maximize the impact of niche expertise, team members must have a thorough understanding of who knows what and the most efficient communications pathways to use to contact these specialists.
According to a survey of 1,100 companies by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, a collaborative environment is linked to shortened timelines and improved productivity. When employees work in teams, they are more likely to stay on task, ask for help when needed and maintain motivation throughout the project.
When workers feel connected to one another, they are likely to view their employer in a more positive light. As an example, when Waggener Edstrom invested in boosting morale through increased collaboration, the enterprise boasted a 63% rise in new business wins as well as higher revenues.
Pave the way for innovation
A study by Nielsen found that teams of six people or more generated concepts that performed 58% better with consumers in pre-market testing. In contrast, when duos worked together, concepts only performed 16% better than baseline results. Incorporating multiple perspectives can help teams arrive at new ideas that go above and beyond the norm.
Slack revealed an interesting, and perhaps counter-intuitive, link between collaboration and autonomy. Namely, research suggests that the more colleagues collaborate, the likelier they are to work independently following these group sessions. When workers feel like they are in the driver’s seat, an enterprise is likely to benefit from higher retention rates and improved morale.
Break up silos between divisions
The silo-mentality can hinder an enterprise’s ability to innovate. Instead of a segmented workforce running below capacity, cross-team collaboration ensures that coworkers throughout an organization are set up for success.
5 ways an intranet can fuel collaboration
Given the benefits outlined above, it is evident that collaboration should be a priority for every enterprise. Digital workplaces can revolutionize teamwork through a host of capabilities, which we explore below:
#1. Pinpoint expertise
Determining the best point of contact for a given project can prove challenging. Digital workplaces reduce the sense of trial-and-error that frequently occurs by providing each employee with a comprehensive directory. User profiles highlight core competencies and ensure communication is only one click away.
#2. Specialized pathways
Many employees find themselves juggling several projects simultaneously. A digital workplace can be utilized to streamline communications and stay up to date. Users can receive company-wide updates through public pathways while also conversing with multiple project-specific collaborators through private channels embedded on the intranet.
#3. Sidestep common bottlenecks
Bottlenecks are one of the most frustrating realities of group work. With the help of automation, digital workplaces ensure that the right people access the right information on the proper timeline. For example, users can avoid manually transferring files and data by integrating form automation with a document management system, in turn saving time and reducing the likelihood of errors.
#4. Expand your collaborative options
Virtually every enterprise collaborates with third parties, such as retailers, investors, and contractors. Digital workplaces can be designed to include extranets, private networks created specifically to allow third-party users to gain access to components of an enterprise’s intranet. From project management sites to supplier extranets, there are a multitude of different types of platforms that can be deployed to optimize collaboration.
#5. Give team members shout outs
Digital workplaces ensure every user feels appreciated through personalized recognition features. Customizable badges can be awarded to peers who go the extra mile while shout-outs on social media help employees authentically express thanks to their colleagues.
Want to fuel collaboration at your enterprise?
A state-of-the-art digital workplace can serve as a user-centric collaboration hub that drives teamwork throughout the enterprise and beyond. If you are interested in designing a bespoke platform uniquely tailored to the group-working needs of your organization, get in touch with one of our digital workplace experts.