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 in order to succeed. For example, in many enterprises, HR executives are partnering with IT teams to tackle employee engagement with optimized digital solutions. As workers continue to specialize, the need for cross-functional collaboration is only likely to grow. Consequently, it is up to stakeholders to act now in order to reinforce efficient pathways for group work that will empower an enterprise for years to come.
Collaboration in the digital age
Specialization is far from the only change that is dramatically 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 technological 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; instead, they are strategic initiatives designed to promote productivity and success through choice technologies and solutions.
Collaboration is one of the key workplace components that digital workplaces can dramatically transform. Instead of relying on mass e-mails and inefficient meetings, colleagues can utilize advanced communications pathways to work together intuitively and effectively, regardless of time zone or geographic location. High-touch digital workplaces have the power to maximize collaboration processes and their associated benefits by offering employees best-in-class tools that optimize group-working procedures.
5 ways an intranet can fuel collaboration
Given the host of benefits outlined above, it is evident that top grade 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
In large enterprises with multiple subsidiaries, determining the best point of contact for a given project can prove challenging. Digital workplaces can reduce the sense of trial-and-error that frequently occurs when searching for niche experts by providing each employee with a high-touch directory. User profiles highlight the knowledge base and core competencies of each worker and ensure communication is only one click away.
#2. Specialized pathways
Many employees find themselves juggling several projects simultaneously. In order to stay organized and prevent information from slipping through the cracks, 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. When workflows are disjointed, employees are likely to take short-cuts that can ultimately lead to miscommunication and poor performance. 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
Inner-office teamwork is far from the only form of collaboration that matters. 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 external collaboration.
#5. Give team-members shout outs
When team members feel like they didn’t receive credit for group work, they are likely to decline future opportunities for collaboration. Digital workplaces can 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 can help employees authentically express thanks to their colleagues.
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
As Jones discusses, knowledge sharing is going to be an increasing priority in the years to come. Enterprises can only perform at peak efficiency when the knowledgebase of the entire workforce can be fully utilized. 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, as their colleagues help hold them accountable.
Employee sentiment can profoundly impact the health of an organization. Oftentimes, 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 employee morale through increased collaboration, the enterprise boasted a 63% rise in new business wins as well as higher revenues.
Pave the way for innovation
When colleagues can bounce ideas off of one another, they are likely to ultimately create more innovative products. 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 are truly impactful and go above and beyond the norm.
A study by Slack revealed an interesting, and perhaps counter-intuitive, link between collaboration and autonomy. Namely, research suggests that there is a circular relationship between the two and that the more colleagues collaborate with one another, 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 receive a boost in morale amongst employees.
Break up silos between divisions
The silo-mentality can drastically reduce performance and productivity and hinder an enterprise’s ability to innovate. Instead of a segmented workforce running below capacity, cross-team collaboration can instill a sense of connectivity throughout an organization and ensure that team members are set up for success.
Want to fuel collaboration at your enterprise?
The importance of collaboration is likely to continue to skyrocket in the years to come. A Dimensional Research survey found that 54% of business leaders plan to invest in user-friendly collaborative solutions in order to optimize group-working habits. 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.