By Bond Collective Staff
Team collaboration is a buzzword that every manager in the know talks about when discussing productivity, innovation, and business success.
But what is team collaboration? And how can you improve said collaboration for a more focused, streamlined, and efficient workflow?
In this article, we’ll answer those questions and give you pro tips for creating a more collaborative atmosphere whether your team works together in the same physical space or remotely over the internet.
What Is Team Collaboration?
The dictionary definition of collaboration is:
The action of working with someone to produce or create something.
While that’s a good general definition, it doesn’t really speak to the variables that are more common to team collaboration in a business environment.
For that, we look to a more focused definition of collaboration:
A communication and project management philosophy — and boots-on-the-ground approach — that emphasizes teamwork, equal participation, and innovative thinking as a way to further the interests of the business.
In decades past, team collaboration demanded that employees be in the same office, if not the same room, in order to get things done.
But with the evolution of the internet and the introduction of unique collaboration software platforms, the act of working together is now accessible even if team members are in different offices, different cities, different states, or different countries.
The foundation of effective team collaboration, though, isn’t the technology — collaboration existed long before telephones, webcams, and videoconferencing apps — it’s the company culture in which your employees work.
When you define the values, norms, ethics, beliefs, and habits of your business, you set the tone and mood your team members will experience with their teammates, managers, and clients.
This, then, provides a framework for effective behavior and paves the way for strong collaboration.
Goals Of Successful Team Collaboration
The goals of successful team collaboration differ from business to business, but a handful of fundamental elements influence collaboration regardless of size, industry, or niche.
These basic elements include:
When your company culture includes high levels of these seven elements, collaboration becomes much easier and your team members will be more willing to engage in this essential activity.
You’ll also be able to identify unique ways to improve collaboration within your business. In the next section, we offer tips to help your team work better together.
How To Improve Team Collaboration In Your Business
1) Provide A Flexible Office Space
Great ideas are made up of equal parts collaboration and individual work. For best results, provide a flexible office space that accommodates both activities.
As much as possible, use these tips to create an office space that is conducive to both group and solo work:
Offer a variety of seat and desk options
Incorporate the open-concept office
Decorate with mobile furniture
Set up multipurpose workspaces
Provide private and quiet spaces for individual work
A flexible office space allows your team members to collaborate or work by themselves in a more organic manner without feeling forced into one option or the other.
2) Give Team Members The Freedom They Need
Few things sabotage team collaboration like self-doubt.
When your employees worry constantly about whether their choices are wrong, their efficiency and effectiveness slow dramatically and their productivity suffers.
To avoid this issue entirely, give your team the freedom to work without restrictions and empower each member to make their own decisions for the good of the team, the project, and the business.
To do this, consider implementing the following suggestions:
Train your team members for personal and professional growth
Communicate frequently and honestly
Promote that same communication from your team members
Trust their instinct
Respect individual differences
Encourage new and unique ideas
Giving your team the freedom to work in this way allows each member to feel safe, secure, and motivated to do what’s right — and best — for the success of your business.
3) Incorporate The Right Tools
The right tools are essential for team collaboration whether members work at their desks in the offices or on the couches in their living rooms.
Collaboration technology includes:
And many more
Armed with these tools, collaboration between team members transforms from a slow and confusing exchange of emails or texts into a quick, easy, logical, and structured activity.
4) Lead Team-Building Activities
Promoting a strong sense of teamwork in your business is essential if you want collaboration to flourish.
To improve the sense of team that underlies all collaborative efforts, conduct team-building exercises that stress the “we” instead of the “I” in your business.
Try activities such as:
These team-building exercises disguised as fun don’t have to be long and involved. Even 15 minutes once or twice per week can improve collaboration dramatically.
Use your imagination and create activities that fit the way your team works.
5) Make It A Point To Motivate Your Team
Motivation is a driving force behind your team’s ability to collaborate efficiently and effectively. Make it a point to motivate your employees every day.
Motivation doesn’t have to be a grand, elaborate gesture. Sometimes, small, personal interactions are more successful at fostering the motivation and collaboration you seek.
We suggest using the following activities to improve motivation amongst your team members:
Leading by example
Finding ways to have fun
Defining your expectations
Maintaining a positive attitude
Giving your employees growth opportunities
Allowing your employees autonomy
When you make it a point to motivate your team — and do it often — every aspect of their work, and their willingness to collaborate, will improve.
6) Emphasize Your Organizational Strategy
Your business’s organizational strategy informs everything your team members do, from their priorities and decision-making all the way down to their ability to adapt when faced with adversity.
If you’re working without a corporate, business, and functional strategy, your team won’t have any overarching goals to look toward. They’ll focus on the project at hand, but they won’t have a sense of direction beyond the immediate task.
That can negatively affect not only their collaboration but also their work productivity.
Communicate your organizational strategy to every member of your team so they have a framework on which to base their decisions, actions, and the way they work together as a cohesive unit.
7) Allow For Delays In Instant Communication
One of the benefits of modern collaboration software is the instantaneous nature of communication between team members.
Unfortunately, that instant communication is also a drawback because it forces individual employees to operate in a state of “always on.”
When your team members feel like they have to be available at all times, it distracts from their individual time and prevents them from focusing on a specific task when they need to.
That can lead to communication burnout and reduce the effectiveness of your team collaboration.
To combat this effect of modern technology, allow for delays in instant communication — whether it’s between you and an employee or between two team members.
Doing so means that employees won’t have to interrupt their current task and focus to address issues on some other task.
Team Collaboration And Your Workspace
At Bond Collective, we’ve designed our workspaces with team collaboration in mind. We provide all the tools your team needs so they can focus on working together, such as:
Free black-and-white printing and copying
Access to conference rooms, private booths, and social areas
Photo and sound studio (Gowanus only)
Guest reception and greeting
Regular on-site cleaning
We even go the extra mile to provide industry-leading amenities you can’t find anywhere else, like:
Complimentary beer, coffee, tea, water, and fresh fruit
Other food and beverages for sale
Rooftop lounge area
Curated and networking events
So, if you’re looking for a work environment that will increase your team’s collaboration, consider becoming a member of Bond Collective.
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer. And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.