Workplace collaboration is not just a trend or buzzword, but a vital component for a healthy, thriving business.
Morten Hansen, UC Berkeley and INSEAD professor, says, “The goal of collaboration is not collaboration, but better results.”
Managers and employees sometimes believe workplace collaboration is synonymous with teamwork—a group of people working together. However, workplace collaboration kicks it up a notch.
What is workplace collaboration?
Workplace collaboration is a group of people sharing skills and ideas to achieve a common goal together. Group members brainstorm ideas to solve a problem or to produce something as a team, seeing the goal through to completion or resolution. Collaboratively meeting goals drives productivity and fills employees with a strong sense of purpose.
Importance of collaboration in today’s workplace
In the digital age, data has become scattered across multiple apps, resulting in fragmented work and segmented workers. In data silos, even top-notch employees are limited to their skill sets and departmental resources. Tracking down internal information in other departments burns up excessive time, putting projects on hold.
A collaborative workplace enables employees to pool resources, communicate efficiently, and complete projects swiftly, cutting down on rework.
When communication standards are improved, teams are better aligned across departments, reducing chaos and frustration. Work structure is heightened, coordination is smoothed, and a higher level of accountability ensues.
Gartner analysts predict that by 2020, 70 percent  organizations using collaborative management systems will report a significant improvement in team performance. Workplace collaboration produces consistent quality service that meets clients’ needs more effectively.
Workplace collaboration empowers employees to work from a broader knowledge base and grow in their duties, deepening job fulfillment while building company loyalty.
A Gallup poll revealed that workplaces with a reputation for healthy communication and workplace collaboration practices could reduce turnover rates by 59 percent. It’s a win-win. Company reputations get a boost, and employees gain a strong sense of belonging that is hard to find in today’s volatile workforce.
Challenges of workplace collaboration
Attaining harmonious collaboration in the workplace isn’t a walk in the park. Difficulties exist but are not insurmountable.
Lack of buy-in
Promoting a compelling cause is essential for effective workplace collaboration. Some workers contentedly slave away in isolation, missing out on valuable insights from their colleagues working remotely or found in the neighboring cubicle.
Others want to stick to departmental systems, or—even worse—grab external apps under the radar to find an ideal solution, putting security at risk. When leaders fail to present a convincing mission for workplace collaboration, employees are less likely to get with the program.
Maintaining a positive environment
Employees who are shy, less confident, or new to the team may be afraid of being put down. Instead of contributing their unique, creative talents, they sit silently.
Collaboration in the workplace calls for open-mindedness and equal treatment of employees, a safe place where no one is afraid to speak up. When everyone has an opportunity to contribute without retribution, morale soars, and work surges forward.
Understanding more about other individuals and departments provides a bird’s eye view and a more comprehensive understanding of company goals. Getting to know the ins and outs of colleagues builds camaraderie. Employees quickly understand they aren’t alone in job challenges.
Sharing personality test results, such as the Myers Briggs, enables group bonding and can help identify sources of conflict. Clashes are inevitable, but a flexible attitude and awareness of others’ differences can keep teammates from getting stuck in the mire.
If there are no standard policies for discussions, workplace collaboration becomes an aggravating guessing game. Multiple people redundantly tackle the same tasks, and either too much or not enough feedback is posted to be helpful.
Minimum standard guidelines for collaboration in the workplace clear up communication channels for sharing ideas and coordinating tasks to keep everyone engaged in workplace collaboration.
For seamless workplace collaboration, relevant information must be readily available, not spread across numerous apps. Information hoarding, siloed data, and physical separation all prevent information sharing.
On the other hand, continuous digital chatter makes it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. Transferring information and knowledge in a relatable way amidst the noise becomes exceptionally challenging and hampers goal achievement.
Employees are feeling the effects—66 percent of workers want a single platform for workplace collaboration to achieve better workflow, improve productivity, and reduce chaos.
Best practices for workplace collaboration
Workplace collaboration implementation looks different in every organization, but there are a few common denominators.
Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trend reported, “A combination of culture, leadership, and incentives needs to come together for effective collaboration and productivity to reign.” How does this play out?
Top management involvement
Executives must lead by example by actively taking part in workplace collaboration tools to promote collaboration and professionalism as core company values.
The Project Management Institute reports engagement and collaboration with executive sponsors as a top driver of project success. If the ultimate goal of workplace collaboration is improved results, then management’s involvement is a crucial success factor.
Group rewards and incentives
Fierce internal competition can be battled by including bonuses and incentives for team achievements, not just individual accomplishments.
When co-workers see each other as assets uniting to combat external competitors instead of rivals contending for a bonus, workplace collaboration is more likely to take root. A group incentive program also sends the message that management highly values workplace collaboration.
Well-defined processes, roles, and responsibilities harness creativity in every corner of a company by opening organized lines of communication.
No team or individual should be left guessing where to find information, whom to contact, or how to contact them. The more difficult workplace collaboration is, the less likely employees are to look outside themselves. Fixed guidelines help make collaboration in the workplace effortless and attainable for all.
Fifteen percent of an employee’s total work time—over 300 hours a year—is wasted in inefficient or ineffective communications, according to the 2017 Workplace Productivity and Communications Technology Report.
A unified digital workplace supports work and discussions of all varieties to streamline operations, minimize toggle time between apps, and keep trains of thought on course for boosted workflow.
Must-have features for workplace collaboration software
If workers are switching back and forth between a productivity tool, a collaboration software, a company intranet, and a departmental program, efficiency gets lost in the shuffle. Performing due diligence to make a strategic decision is worthwhile.
Collaboration and work fused in one app
An ideal workplace collaboration tool includes different modules for managing repetitive processes, cases, and project management. Working in one public app also builds transparency and accountability for a healthy work environment.
Introducing a workplace collaboration tool should not require a complete IT overhaul. Select a program that works with other systems already in place. Third-party API integrations connect data to provide real-time information for timely goal achievement.
How soon can new team players gain access to pertinent information? Multiple log-ins slow down and overwhelm employees new to the company or a team project. A powerful search engine in an inclusive platform for both work assignments and workplace collaboration turns document hunts into a stress-free task.
Mobile device connection keeps work flowing at all times. Questions and ideas can be posted on-the-spot even when a laptop, or desktop isn’t handy. All mobile apps are not created equal, so be sure the mobile app design is innovative.
Keeping company data locked down remains a high priority, but security measures should not hinder workflow. Authentications and permissions options for information access make it easy to share information as needed while keeping confidential data locked down tight.
Top tools for workplace collaboration
1. Workplace by Facebook
Boasting 2.41 billion active users worldwide, Facebook is already familiar to almost any employee. Workplace’s interface is very similar to the interface for personal Facebook accounts and is extremely mobile-friendly.
Social network groups, messaging, and productivity tools are easily navigable. Workplace accounts remain entirely separate from personal accounts.
The audio/video features enable group communication from any location, and multi-company groups allow employees from various organizations to connect. Although Workplace can integrate with company IT systems, it’s primarily used for communication about work, not to manage projects or “do work” together.
2. Microsoft Teams
Launched in March 2017, Microsoft Teams comes bundled with the Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite—not great news for G-suite centered organizations.
Microsoft Teams offers a wealth of desktop-oriented, enterprise-class capabilities, but paying for extra storage and sophisticated features might not be practical for many organizations.
Getting started with Teams requires a Microsoft account and IT professionals who can provide training. Third-party application integrations are available but do not link as smoothly as Microsoft applications. If the IT team hits a snag, fees for contacting Microsoft support are extra.
Secured by Google’s data centers, Kissflow Collaboration keeps your data as safe as big-name tools. Kissflow’s clean interface and intuitive workplace collaboration module are very similar to popular social media apps.
With just a few clicks, employees can get on track to meet goals together. Internal surveys are distributed and processed with real-time results for snappy decision-making. Files are attached in the right context eliminating file juggling chaos.
Organizations taking advantage of Google’s productivity tools experience seamless integration. Any bumps in the road are addressed promptly by Kissflow’s dedicated support team at no extra cost.
How does Kissflow rise above?
Improving a company’s bottom line through dynamic workplace collaboration takes more than just news feeds and communication channels. In Kissflow’s unified digital workplace, colleagues can both discuss and perform work together. All staff members, regardless of IT know-how, can automate repetitive processes, handle cases, and plan projects to streamline work, brainstorm, and problem-solve together.
A mobile app keeps team members up to speed from any location. No matter the desired level of privacy—from confidential discussion channels to company-wide announcements—options abound.
Piling on another digital tool solely for workplace collaboration clutters already crowded screens, slows productivity, and drains budgets. Kissflow combines workplace collaboration and practical work tools under one tab for an affordable rate. Streamline your work and take workplace collaboration to the next level with Kissflow today.