How to Improve Team Collaboration in 2020
The workplace is changing
We’re not as reliant on employees being actively present in the office anymore. Instead, we’ve found that people can work together just as well at a distance, provided that they have the right tools. In today’s age of remote and flexible working, business leaders need to find the right way to encourage effective virtual conversations.
According to a UNC whitepaper, when collaboration and communication practices are embedded into the heart of an organisation, the results are enormous benefits to your bottom line, including more engaged employees, better retention, and easier attraction of talent.
I spoke to Lyndsay Cook, SVP Marketing at PGi, about what you need to know about communicating effectively at work.
1. Centralise your Communications
In an environment where employees aren’t always actively working in the same location, it’s essential for communication and collaboration to be as centralised as possible. That’s one of the reasons why team collaboration tools are becoming increasingly valuable, and why unified communications is at the heart of most teams.
Make sure that you have an environment in place that supports communication between internal and external team members through a variety of channels, from video and audio to instant messaging. What’s more, ensure that your users don’t have to waste time switching between apps when they need to accelerate a conversation.
Lyndsay commented “Communication should be as simple and streamlined, as if it was happening in person”
2. Gain Executive Buy-In
Implementing a new communication and collaboration strategy into the heart of your business culture requires your entire team to be invested in the latest technology – including business leaders. The Harvard Business Review found that 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional, in part because they’re unable to maintain alignment with a company’s corporate goals, adhere to specifications, or stay on schedule without assistance.
However, when those teams are overseen by supervisors and executives, their success level rises to 76%. Good leadership will always be crucial to any evolution in your company. Before you start rolling out new UC tools, make sure that your business leaders are ready to help your teams embrace each new solution.
3. Embed Communication into the Company Culture
For teams to perform well, the people on those teams need to be able to trust each other and feel connected – no matter where they are located. It’s essential to strengthen the bonds between your team members wherever possible. For instance, you can:
- Set up regular HD video calls between remote team members that keep them caught up with whatever’s happening in the business
- Begin meetings with icebreaker questions to encourage a little chatter and informal conversation before you start talking about work
- Have a water cooler channel in your team collaboration app where people can have conversations that aren’t related to work
- Host regular social events that encourage people to strengthen their connections with people in your team – like a group lunch or an annual corporate getaway
4. Focus on Flexibility
In today’s diverse workplace, flexibility is becoming increasingly important. Companies need to not only give their team members a range of ways to communicate, but they also need to ensure that the apps their team members rely on work seamlessly together.
When investing in tools for your unified communications platform, make sure that your stack is as flexible and extensible as possible.
Lyndsay went onto say:
“Look for something that can integrate with a variety of third-party apps and external hardware, so that your team members still have the freedom to use the tools that make them as productive as possible”
5. Reward and Encourage Creativity
Finally, always make your team members feel comfortable about sharing ideas with the rest of the time. Weekly brainstorming sessions through a team collaboration app where everyone can share ideas (no matter how unusual) are a great idea. The more you encourage this creative freedom, the more out-of-the-box thinking you benefit from.
What’s more, when people know that they can share their ideas and thoughts with their team members without being judged, they feel more comfortable, as though they’re a valued part of the team. Make sure that everyone has a chance to have their voice heard.
Embrace the Modern Workplace
According to McKinsey, collaborative processes and networking tools improve productivity by between 20 and 30% in today’s global software development teams. People work better when they feel like a valuable part of the team.
Just because the workplace is becoming more dispersed and remote, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be easy to make friends and communicate.
“Embed unified communication and collaboration into the heart of your organisation, and you’re sure to see positive results”