Collaboration is one of the most crucial elements when it comes to the success of any type of organization. No workplace will do well without efficient collaboration, so its seamless implementation should be one of a business’s top priorities. This article discusses the ins and outs of workplace collaboration, the most prevalent collaboration challenges that organizations usually face in achieving it, and how to mitigate such challenges.
What is workplace collaboration?
When individuals work together as a team to accomplish a common goal, they undergo collaboration. In the workplace setting, this definition branches out to colleagues and team members dealing with specific projects that require constant communication and team effort. Whether a team is working in an office or has some members working remotely, collaboration is required to complete the job.
Efficient collaboration, which involves smooth, seamless, and open communication between all team members, is essential in creating a productive workflow, particularly when it comes to tackling major business projects. It enables optimized business operations and propels the potential for success. It promotes healthy professional relationships between employees.
According to GoRemotely, the ability to collaborate is considered one of the most important skills for the future success of employees. Roughly 75% of employees think that collaboration and teamwork are crucial factors in the workplace, and 50% of employees find themselves more engaged in collaborative environments.
The workplace of today
Today’s workplace blends traditional methods with modernized, high-tech collaboration solutions to create a workplace that accommodates all team members. With a collaborative workplace, team members can find all of their required tools and resources in one platform. They can also communicate and coordinate with one another on that platform, which would help them complete their work much more quickly.
The need for collaboration has become even more emphasized in recent years because of the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, there are now several online tools for collaboration that allowed for efficient team processes despite remote work setups. In fact, reports show that digital platforms have increased employee productivity by around 30%.
However, the reliance on digital tools may also present certain challenges. Employees usually have to switch between different apps and platforms to work together and gain full access to their files and documents. This can eat up valuable time that could have been allotted to progressing with work.
The top 9 collaboration challenges and how to deal with them
Collaboration isn’t always easy to achieve. Below are the most common hindrances in creating a collaborative space in the workplace.
1. Difficulty in achieving seamless communication
It’s important to promote a culture of open communication in the workplace. Sometimes, collaboration is hindered when team members don’t feel like they can communicate openly or if there is no unified platform where all team members can express their thoughts and opinions.
If team members don’t feel like they can communicate, they’re less likely to be involved, which can lead to the failure of the project. In fact, according to the Project Management Institute, 33% of projects don’t succeed because of lack of involvement from all team members.
Heads of organizations must actively engage with their team members and encourage them to share their insights and ideas. They must create opportunities where open discussions with each employee can take place. They might also need to invest in a set of tools that can help them achieve efficient communication.
2. Lack of clear vision
An unclear goal is difficult to work toward. Without having a clear picture of what ultimately needs to be accomplished, team members might work mindlessly, which would significantly hinder productivity, motivation, and efficiency.
The lack of a defined goal may also make it difficult for leaders to delegate responsibilities and tasks to each team member. This, in turn, may contribute to negative feelings about a project and hamper work synergy. Employees are more likely to be averse to collaboration when they aren’t given key performance indicators to track or when they don’t understand what the rest of the team is doing to contribute to the project’s success.
Team members must make it a point to meet together regularly to establish and discuss goals. They must all be kept in the loop when it comes to analyzing progress and implementing changes, so everybody can stay on the same page. It would also help if they can communicate on a unified platform and see project changes in real-time.
3. The need to promote diversity
No two people have the same working styles. Some are comfortable with flying solo, while others thrive when working in groups. Additionally, teams usually have people coming from different backgrounds and contexts. Connecting them and making everyone feel included may not be an easy feat when developing avenues for collaboration.
Similar to fostering seamless communication, promoting diversity requires encouraging open interaction. This helps make the workplace more inclusive. Moreover, effective delegation and efficient conflict resolution plans must be put in place. Team members should be aware of their value to the team and what particular tasks they need to accomplish to make a project successful.
4. Developing trust among team members
Trust is one of the key elements of collaboration, and it’s almost impossible to build trust among team members who do not communicate with one another. Trust takes a while to foster. But, it’s essential, as it provides workers with a working environment that’s conducive for growth, synergy, and productivity.
Trust requires active and intentional communication with each team member in the workplace, and each employee needs to be comfortable with expressing themselves. To establish trust between team members more quickly, organization leaders must set clear boundaries and goals, and they must champion openness and communication throughout the whole team.
5. Lack of productivity
In an office setting, one of the main hindrances in productivity is lack of feedback. Team members often need to have their efforts and performance acknowledged or evaluated.
Another hindrance is using traditional communication methods, like e-mail. It may take key persons some time to respond to e-mail messages, which can significantly obstruct workflow.
Quick responses and timely feedback are necessary to create a productive workplace. Consider shifting to an instant messaging platform for faster communication, and provide clear instructions when commenting on tasks and projects.
You may witness a decline in productivity during the first few weeks following the implementation of a new collaboration channel. This is normal because your team members are still learning how to navigate the new platform, and they are figuring out how they can best use it to support their work. However, given time and proper guidance, you would be able to restore or even improve your team’s productivity levels.
6. Negative employee mindset
Negative thinking can spread quickly, and all it would take is one person’s pessimistic view to influence all the other members of the team. When a team member starts talking about how impossible or difficult a project is, other team members might begin to adopt the same mindset.
As a team leader or organization head, it’s up to you to boost employee morale. Encourage the team to think of creative and innovative solutions when it comes to tackling problems, and remind each team member of their value to the organization and the company.
7. Eliminating organizational silos
Organizations have had struggles with silos for a long time, and those with highly distributed work teams are presented with an extra challenge. Departments may not always be willing to share information with one another, and this could obstruct communication and collaboration. Work-from-home and remote teams need to be kept in the loop and engaged to ensure that the whole team stays on the same page.
Aim to create standard operating procedures and brief each team member on what they need to do and what protocols they need to follow before they work. Have SOPs on a written memo or document, and make it easily accessible to all team members. This way, they’ll be able to refer to it whenever they need to.
8. Employee hesitation and lack of compliance
This is also known as a lack of buy-in. As mentioned, some workers tend to be more content working by themselves. However, this could lead to isolation and lack of communication between team members. Those who work by themselves could then miss out on valuable insights from other colleagues, which could prevent them from optimizing the way they work.
Sometimes, employees would also prefer to stick to old methods or use external platforms that could put valuable data at risk. Team leaders may not be able to show the importance of collaboration, and employees may not feel compelled to effectively work with other members of the team.
When introducing a new platform or technique for collaboration ensure that it’s as user-friendly as possible. Your team must be comfortable with navigating the platform, and they must find the transition painless. They also need to be given enough time and support to properly transition and see the value of the new methods. Habits and comfort zones are difficult to get out of, but time and practice can help make the transition easier.
9. Oversaturation of ideas
You’ve probably already heard of the saying: “too many cooks spoil the broth”. Although a team might be composed of great minds, having too many people working on the same task can hinder success. For instance, having too many decision-makers or project leaders could create an endless feedback loop that would bring more harm than good. This could also make team members lose sight of the project’s goals and objectives.
Team members must be aware of their individual responsibilities, and they must designate point persons. These are the people in charge of how a project goes, and they are responsible for any “last say” that a project needs. Two or three people can provide feedback, but more than that may make things too overwhelming.
The digital workplace and how it can improve workplace collaboration
The digital workplace can provide organizations with a platform where they can effectively and efficiently communicate with one another, share files and documents, track progress, and keep tabs on important dates and deadlines. Additionally, they are designed to be user-friendly and are fortified by strong security measures that protect company data and ensure user safety. They also have a round-the-clock support team to help smoothen out any bumps that may be encountered.
Digital workplaces allow for optimized collaboration. With them, teams can hold virtual discussions, quickly communicate via instant messaging, and conveniently share work assets, which can save time and energy and boost productivity. You and your team can accomplish projects in a more efficient way, and you can foster a collaborative and inclusive environment.