When asked what elements are essential to the success of any business, most would agree collaboration in the workplace would rank among the top answers. Going above and beyond the simple formation of physical teams, collaboration is when people actually willingly work together sharing ideas and skills to better accomplish common goals.
Every day businesses with multiple office locations and branches spread throughout New Zealand and around the world face the ongoing challenge of achieving companywide collaboration while conquering the obvious issues created by distance. So what are the elements of successful workplace collaboration? Let’s take a look and while we are there explore some of the benefits it offers.
Elements Of Successful Workplace Collaboration
Sotheby’s International Realty run a large number of real estate offices spread around New Zealand and say ”communication and team work is the key to good collaboration” here are a few of the other essential elements.
Technology has become the go-to solution for many multi location businesses with many turning to virtual collaboration tools including instant messaging apps, cloud-based storage and file sharing, real-time web based software, smart phones, email and video-conferencing as methods of collaborating long distance. These methods enable everyone to ask questions, post messages and share updates instantly no matter where the physical location.
An equal footing among collaborators is essential for encouraging good communication. Collaboration is impossible without communication, all staff not just managers must be able to freely discuss concepts and ideas, offer different perspectives and levels of expertise in a respectful atmosphere, without fear of penalty.
Solution Focused Thinking
A key element to successful collaboration is setting the focus squarely on providing suitable solutions. Getting lost in the brainstorming process without a clear focus can create more problems than it solves. Clear direction must be established along with establishing defined roles and tasks for team members.
A Combined Sense Of Purpose
Collaboration is not something you can force upon people, there must be perceived value in working together – both for the collaborators and the company as a whole. This is especially important to inter-office collaboration, clearly defined company wide goals and objectives must be kept in mind when seeking acceptable outcomes.
In order to form trusting well rounded relationships in the workplace it is necessary to allow people to spend time getting to know one another. This is perhaps the most difficult challenge when staff are spread over several locations. Time and effort is required to organise and promote opportunities for people to come together regularly in order to build a strong relationship base.
Benefits Of Workplace Collaboration
For multi-location businesses the benefits of collaboration in the workplace are even more valuable company wide. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits below.
- Broader Skills and Strengths. Access to a broad skill set means collaboration is able to draw upon the strengths of everyone involved increasing the odds of success.
- Company Wide Development. Working together gives people a better understanding of the bigger picture which encourages greater knowledge sharing and ultimately results in overall developmental advantages for staff.
- Faster Problem Solving. Things that could quite possibly take days to resolve separately may take only hours to solve in a collaborative workplace. Access to a larger number of people with unique expertise and viewpoints make for faster resolutions.
- Greater Efficiency. The phrase ”many hands make light work” comes to mind for this one, dividing the workload can result in much shorter time frames and greater efficiency for tasks.
- Job Satisfaction. When people feel good about what they do they are more likely to stay with the company longer. Sharing the wins and loses with other people also helps build good teams.
While challenging at times inter-office collaboration ensures the effectiveness of large, diverse teams are maximised, while minimizing the disadvantages posed by their structure and location.