The future of work productivity is smart collaboration
You don’t need to do extensive research to see that the future of work is changing. With the help of technology and flexible environments, people are changing the way they work and in turn, shaping a new way of staying productive.
The future of work is influenced by two major factors— technology that workplaces are adopting to stay connected and the expansion of workforces to include both on-premise and remote talent. New technology is changing the way we work, making us more efficient and helping us focus on the larger picture. Meanwhile, as the economy changes, companies are opening their doors to remote talent, choosing skill over the location.
These two factors largely influence the work being done, the workforce that is doing the work, and the environment within which the team thrives. But, these changes can also bring in challenges within the workplace and even go so far as to hinder productivity and work outcomes. To ensure these changes have a positive effect on the work and the workforce, it’s important that organizations adopt one team characteristic that is golden in fostering growth— collaboration.
Let’s dive into what team collaboration really is, the challenges in our processes today, why it makes an impact on workplaces, and how teams can adopt this mindset within their changing work environment to ensure positive growth.
What is Team Collaboration?
In the modern work environment, collaboration is one of the coveted characteristics of a well-functioning team. Team collaboration is an approach to communication and project management that emphasizes equal participation.
Companies that foster collaboration see team members from different departments working together to achieve common goals. But collaborative teams are more than single project-based. They work together to discuss what they hope to accomplish within a set timeframe and define goals individually as well as a team.
Companies from Google, who have physical office spaces to Automattic, whose team work remotely, have adopted and encouraged collaboration in different ways.
One such example of excellent collaboration in the workplace is at the Guidefitter office. Bryan Koontz, their CEO, emphasises teamwork among employees, and this reflects in their environment and the way they work. Guidefitter has brief weekly meetings every Wednesday morning to recap the past week and share professional and personal ‘wins’. This gives everyone in the team a chance to reflect on their achievements and foster a space for motivation.
“A few ways we cultivate an environment of trust and respect is through meetings, or rather ‘’breaks’ that don’t necessarily focus on work. By scheduling ‘break’ times in our calendars, we allow our employees to talk, relax, and discuss the ins-and-outs of their days.” – Bryan Koontz, CEO, Guidefitter
Such collaborative efforts pay off, encouraging employees to bond with each other, which is a contributing factor in increasing productivity.
But are most teams really able to collaborate seamlessly?
Team collaboration – Status Quo
TLDR; Communication, collaboration and coordination are always a struggle.
Now you might be wondering just how difficult can collaborating with team members be?
When you’re working in pairs, it’s easier to stay up to date with every little progress made on a project. Imagine five more people stepping into the team for the same project.
So you hold a quick meeting to let them know what has been done, when, why and how, and what the next steps are. Despite the catching up, there is a little chaos in the initial few months when everybody is trying to understand everything.
And just when things begin to settle down, two new members join in – because scaling is important.
The whole process begins all over again.
Admit it, you’ve been there too.
The way we ‘collaborate’ isn’t smart and there are way too many leaks in the process.
Problem 1: Communication and collaboration is a struggle
When you use too many tools, your documentation is all over the place. So when it comes to sharing context, you’re fumbling between it all.
Take, for instance, your team is working on a website redesign. You have to include your marketing, design and development team in the project. Now if each of the teams are using different tools and processes, bringing all the context to one platform will be a struggle. You’re going to end up sharing endless documents with each of the members involved or copy-pasting the data onto your communication channel.
Both ways being ineffective and everyone will obviously lose track.
Something that could have been simple, communication and collaboration becomes way too time-consuming and difficult!
Problem 2: Coordination and planning is a challenge
Another challenge that most teams face is coordination – especially if the entire team isn’t colocated..
One is constantly trying to figure out who’s available and when, even for the simplest of things like meetings. And it when it comes to assigning tasks in a project, things get out of hand.
For example, your development team has the bandwidth to work on the website for only a week. But the copy and design need to be delivered to them at least two days prior from that week. Just when you’re planning out the week on week tasks, you realise that the copywriter is on leave for three days.
But right now, it’s all too late because you’ve already booked the development team for that week.
Simply put, not being able to keep a tab on the availability of team members often results in chaos.
Absence management and shift planning often requires project managers to also coordinate with the HR. That only adds more work to their plate, making everything even more inefficient.
Simply put, most of us are just about managing to work together. We struggle everyday to do the simplest of things, create new processes and end up only adding more confusion to how things work.
So how do you solve this? By putting technology to work.
Right from streamlining your efforts, documentation, work processes, time management and shift planning, it’s time for smart collaboration.
Enabling smart collaboration with technology
Inculcating collaboration within your workplace is a slow process that pays off over time. Let’s dive into how you can start fostering collaboration in your workplace.
Collaborate where the work happens, not the other way around
Let’s start by addressing the first hindrance to getting work done together – communication and collaboration.
Take for instance, the average life of a customer service representative. Every customer issue they deal with, every ticket, involves collaborating with different teams across the organization. When collaboration is in a separate communication channel, the support reps have to hop back and forth between their helpdesk and channel with lots of copy-pasting to and fro to get their teammates up to speed.
Having to move between different tools to share information, often leads to missing out on critical data. This data could actually lie at the core of building context for the support call and the other team members. That’s where a software like Freshconnect can help.
Freshconnect is built for contextual collaboration – it makes information sharing easier, giving better context to employees who are joining the project later on. Customer service reps can start discussions with teammates right from their helpdesk so that anyone who logs on later can get context in a jiffy. Freshconnect integrates your workspace and allows you to view discussions about the work in a more fluid manner.
Freshconnect also has a communication feature, where team members can keep all their work discussions in one place. Team Messages is a platform that makes communication simpler, assuring teams can collaborate and discuss ideas with ease. Companies like Code4ward use Freshconnect to manage their customer support and ensure no ticket gets missed.
“Freshconnect is a real timesaver and we really enjoy it. We prefer Freshconnect for ticket related discussions because it maintains the context and always remains part of the ticket. In Slack, these discussions get lost in threads within channels. Freshconnect makes it easier for us to track these discussions.” – Stefan Koell , CEO, Code4ward
And ensure your team manages time more efficiently
Now comes solving ‘coordination’.
Managing employee attendance and time tracking is tedious. Employees usually have to meet or message HRs when punching in or out of work, taking a leave or changing their shift hours. This is an added effort for the HR who has to spend time managing a spreadsheet, context switching them from other more important work. It also becomes a challenge for the project manager to then further coordinate with the HR to figure availability of team members.
Now what if managing time, marking their presence or absence was handed over to the employees themselves? What if shift planning could just be automated?
Handing over time tracking to the employees sets an entirely new level of trust. It makes them feel more responsible and involved with the project too, making it easier for the manager to plan shifts or allocate resources.
That’s where AttendanceBot comes in. It aims to revolutionize time tracking and attendance management for teams – no matter how big or small they are.
AttendanceBot allows employees to mark their attendance on their own, punching in and out, and marking their work hours right within their communication platform like Slack, Microsoft Teams or Google Chat. This automates the tedious spreadsheet process, and HRs only need to log in to their AttendanceBot dashboard to get an idea of their employees’ attendance.
With AttendanceBot, leave management also gets automated. Employees can request for leave for certain days and the request can be approved or denied by their manager all from the comfort of Slack or Microsoft Teams.. It also simplifies managing shifts, with its interactive dashboard that manages shift schedules smoothly.
By decreasing dependencies and making your workforce take control of their time tracking, you can adapt your workforce to be more self-reliant and focus on the more important tasks. Self-management also helps employees be more consistent in their routines.
“We have surveyed many different HR service, but they don’t have an easy-to-use timesheet feature. Also since we use Slack, AttendanceBot is the perfect match.” Liang-Bin H., Co-founder & COO
The importance of Team Collaboration
The founders of Mailchimp, Ben Chestnut and Mark Armstrong, once went around talking to their employees about the projects they ideated or are working on and suggesting people from different departments in the company who can help them.
You may be wondering— why would the founder of such a large company, whose annual revenue is about to reach $700 million, is spending time in fostering collaboration among team members? A team that’s 800+ members strong, and growing by the day.
Experience has taught the founders of smart companies about the benefits of encouraging team collaboration.
Collaboration helps employees to polish their skills and gain a different perspective. When working with people from different departments, you are exposed to different perspectives and can pick up new ways to approach problems from people that you are collaborating with.
What’s more, when working with others, you are pushing yourself to perform better and see your weaknesses clearly. It helps employees bond with each other while working, learning from each other and building more trust and respect for each other.
You may be surprised that team collaboration can even ensure higher retention rates.
Queens University found that 54% of employees say a strong sense of community— great coworkers, celebrating milestones, a common mission— kept them at a company for longer.
Besides individual growth and retention, collaboration has also shown a positive influence on the quality of the work done. By collaborating, team members can tackle problems better, coming up with solutions quicker than when working alone. Since different talents and strengths and pooled for the project, you will find that employees will bring their best game to the table, ensuring quality outcomes.
Collaboration especially helps remote employees. Since they don’t have a reason to engage with the rest of the team, employees may not go out of their way to connect with their fellow team members. But, when managers encourage collaboration with their remote employees, team members feel more fulfilled and less alone, despite not working in the same physical environment.
The benefits of encouraging collaboration within your team, as you can see, are proven to be positive. But, the only way to enable it is to move beyond weekly team lunches, brainstorming meetings and team communication chats to actually start leveraging smart teamwork.
Are you prepared for the future of work?
The future of work is continually evolving. Just like digital trends, the way teams are working together has changed over the years. From where we stand, we see them changing more every day. That’s where setting the right team culture and adopting the right technology in your work process comes into play.
Is your organization equipped to adapt future trends and foster an open and collaborative culture within the workplace?
We hope these tips have encouraged you to start conversations about team collaboration among employees and inculcate habits to make collaboration an integral part of the organization.
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