How To Create a Collaborative Workplace

Nidhi Nair
August 23, 2023
office friendships, office culture, people operations, HR

How To Create a Collaborative Workplace 

If you want to produce high-performing teams, creating a workplace environment that encourages collaboration is the ticket. As famed industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Your organization goes to great lengths to hire the brightest minds in your industry, and continued development goes a long way to hone the skills necessary to help your company thrive. Putting those minds together can lead to even better results. A collaborative work culture can foster innovation, boost the bottom line, improve overall productivity and pave the way to more winning moments.

But what does building a collaborative team environment that blossoms with shared knowledge and cooperation take? In this blog, we'll go over five ways you can create a culture of collaboration in your office. These tips can make all the difference, empowering you to support every team member and create a unique sense of community in your organization.

Create a Positive Environment

The first step is to create an air of positivity. You can't foster collaboration when everyone is miserable. Unhappy workers tend to stick to solo work. They're less inclined to seek help when needed or invite others into their workflow. When negativity festers, the priority is to clock in, keep your head down and get out.

That's not an ideal mindset you want to have when trying to build collaborative teams. According to Melanie Shires, a Venture Mentor at Arizona State University, positivity creates a harmonious work environment that can reduce tension among co-workers and drive teamwork. Shawn Achor said in the Harvard Business Review that happiness precedes success and that happy employees are more productive, creative and better at problem-solving.

Collaboration comes naturally when you focus on positivity and take steps to keep your employees happy. So how do you transform the work environment?

There are many ways to change the overall work culture. Start by getting some feedback from your employees. Listen to their needs and understand what you can do to make their days better. Adopt best practices and policies that eliminate drama and set your teams up for success. Establish a strong code of ethics, encourage active listening and focus on employee onboarding to ensure every team member has the tools to succeed from day one.

It's about going beyond the essentials and remembering that everyone in your organization is human. Take care of your employees and make changes that benefit them. When an organization goes out of its way to show support and empathize with employee needs, positivity will come.

Encourage Communication

Another thing you can do to establish that sought-after environment of collaboration is to open the lines of communication. We're not talking about having more meetings or sending more memos. One of the best ways to encourage teamwork is to focus on companywide transparency, from the top senior leaders to entry-level employees.

Communication can be both a hindrance and an asset. Carol Kinsey Goman said in Forbes that how your organization handles information and communicates is the differentiator.

Transparent communication helps to prevent that silo mentality. In many companies, tribal mentality takes over due to a lack of clear communication. Departments might work together cohesively, but they focus solely on their affairs. When projects require multidepartmental collaboration, things fall apart quickly because separate teams can't empathize with the needs of others. It's also a problem when communication is only top-down.

The best approach is to provide multiple ways for your employees to communicate openly with one another. Every team member should be allowed to speak with equality and authority, regardless of their position. When you give people the means to speak freely and provide multiple channels to do so, they feel seen and heard.

That alone makes a substantial difference. It eliminates the awkwardness of working with strangers and the fear of speaking up. Successful collaboration hinges on efficient communication; the best results come when everyone has a voice.

Plus, you can remove the barriers and headaches that come with miscommunication. Think about all the lost potential that your company experienced because team members lacked the means to get clarity when they needed it. Whether it's navigating those pesky communication silos or because team members didn't feel comfortable speaking up, miscommunication is nothing but wasted time and resources.

Rethink how your office communicates and implement methods that promote transparency and openness. Technology makes it easier than ever to create a connected workplace, even if you have a hybrid office model and tons of remote workers.

Set Team Goals

Remember to set goals for your teams.

You can get amazing results when you bring people with different backgrounds and personalities together. But without goals to guide the collaborative process, projects can be dead in the water before they can produce anything of value. Sure, you want to promote natural collaboration and teamwork. However, setting goals can help your company meet its goals.

There are a few reasons why goal-setting should be a priority.

First, there's the matter of accountability. How often have you worked with people who didn't pull their weight in a collaborative project? It's something everyone experiences at some point. For many people, a lack of accountability makes teamwork a turnoff. No one wants to do all the work and only get a fraction of the credit.

Keith Rutman said in BuiltIn that setting company expectations is key to enforcing accountability and striving for continuous improvement. It's about aligning expectations and ensuring that everyone involved in a project understands their role within it.

Setting goals also boosts productivity across the board. Establishing milestones and having a clear timeline for deliverables makes a big difference. You want your team to think outside the box and let their creativity flow. But brilliant minds can easily lose track when there's too much room for creative thinking. Having clear goals to pursue keeps everyone on track and allows your employees to collaborate freely while still working in a structured and highly effective manner.

Ultimately, setting goals will improve productivity. Lean into the open lines of communication we talked about earlier. Regular meetings, positive feedback and frequent check-ins keep everyone on the same page regarding company expectations and the goals you want your collaborative teams to meet.

Reward Teamwork

Who doesn't like a little recognition? Rewarding your employees for their contributions to your organization is great. But don't be afraid to recognize team efforts, too.

Rewarding your employees for what they contribute to a collaborative project makes a huge difference.

One of the biggest benefits? It removes one of the biggest collaboration barriers: Competition. It's human nature to want to one-up a colleague. Everyone seeks to further their carrier and leave a memorable impression. Sometimes, the instinct to compete gets in the way of collaborative efforts. Egos take over, and instead of working together toward a common goal, you have constant one-upmanship.

Recognize what your workers do on their own and together as a unit. You can reward people for their contributions while acknowledging their impact on the larger collaboration. For example, you can pull people aside to commend them on what they did and appreciate how it fits into a larger puzzle. Or, you can call attention to specific people during group meetings.

You don't have to go to extremes with your rewards, though extra compensation and bonuses are much appreciated. Something as simple as openly acknowledging your team's hard work goes a long way.

The goal is to ensure everyone feels their individual and collaborative contributions matter. You want to make everyone confident that leaders notice and value their work.

When you reward teamwork, you're putting that competitive edge on the back burner. Instead of focusing on standing out in a group effort, your employees will feel confident in what they do. They feel safe working together as a collaborative unit, knowing everyone is doing what they can to achieve company goals.

Recognition can also improve individual engagement. One study by Quantum Workforce found that employees are 2.7 times more likely to be highly engaged in their work when leadership recognizes them. That uptick in engagement and productivity can breed highly successful teams.

Provide Opportunities for Employee Development

Finally, encourage continued employee development. This tip can lead to greater success for your company, regardless of how much workplace collaboration your employees do. But in the context of group efforts, it's game-changing.

Your workforce will include people from different backgrounds possessing unique skill sets. Everyone will have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Encouraging your employees to close those skill gaps and continue pushing for improvement will result in a highly diverse team that fills your organization's needs.

When you have a collaborative environment, your employees can use one another to hone their skills. They get to share knowledge with others, learn from one another to obtain new skills and grow as a unit.

Go beyond individual employee development. Focus on fine-tuning collaboration skills. Working with others only comes naturally to some. The more time individuals spend in collaborative environments, the better their collaboration skills get. But you can speed that process up.

Consider doing team-building exercises and teaching collaborative behaviors. You can do activities that boost adaptability, improve everyone's communication skills and refine their ability to stay organized.

Why Is Collaboration Important in the Workplace?

There are several reasons why you should prioritize building a collaborative workplace. However, the easiest way to sum up the importance of collaboration is this: Two heads are better than one. Or, in the case of work, multiple heads!

Collaboration can create magic in the workplace. Whether your organization focuses on sales, product development or customer service doesn't matter. Having several skilled and experienced individuals come together to solve problems and develop creative ideas can result in growth for your company. It boosts the bottom line and can take your organization to a new era of success.

The biggest and most successful companies in the world go out of their way to support collaboration in the workplace. It can make your office more efficient than ever while opening the floodgates to new ideas.

Employ these tips, and it's only a matter of time before you start to see the fruits of your team's collaborative labor. You'll begin to notice more productivity, better engagement and substantially more efficient workflows.

Collaboration is paramount for modern business. Creating a collaborative work environment will encourage natural teamwork while fostering a more productive and happy workforce.

Learn More With Eden

When you're ready to empower your employees to work together and make magic, turn to Eden. Eden provides the tools organizations need to create a strong and successful culture of team collaboration. Whether you have employees in the office full-time or employ a hybrid office model, Eden will help you build an amazing employee experience. With features like room scheduling to give your teams the physical space to thrive and desk booking that offers more workplace flexibility, Eden can turn your organization into a collaborative powerhouse. Contact Eden today to book your demo.

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