Collaboration within your enterprise provides an array of benefits. When you have a collaborative workplace, your employees are happier, more connected, and better aligned with your mission and vision. This leads to greater workplace productivity and innovation, which will set your enterprise apart from the competition.
Despite all these benefits, 39% of employees say people in their organization do not collaborate enough. With executives facing a litany urgent demands, it can be tempting to ignore the problem of poor collaboration, an issue with less immediate consequences. However, with 86% of workplace failures being tied to a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication, a smart executive will look for ways to bring effective collaboration to the workforce before it starts to impact the company’s performance.
A recent article on Recruiting Blogs explains the challenge of collaborating in the modern workplace and provides several tips to promote better collaboration within your enterprise. Four of these tips are highlighted below.
First, you need to ensure collaboration is integrated naturally into your employee’s flow of work. Employees should not view collaboration as a task requiring them to pause their work. Instead, you need to make it easier for employees to collaborate by ensuring that collaboration tools are embedded in the programs they already use.
In some cases, your employees may already be using the IT-sanctioned instant messaging and text-based chat tools, such as Skype for Business, to quickly communicate with team members and avoid the aggravation of having group emails go back and forth. In other cases, small groups may be using a department budget to gain access to online project management and collaboration platforms, such as Basecamp or Asana, to better organize and streamline text-based communication and document-sharing. It is imperative that you get a complete picture of the solutions your employees are currently using to know how to enhance the overall collaboration experience.
This brings us to the second tip – investing in collaboration strategically. As the article points out, “if you want your employees to increase collaboration and productivity using tech, you must provide the tools.”
Of course, just providing the tools in today’s marketplace is not enough. You need to ensure you are investing in the right tools that not only provide exceptional and reliable quality but also integrate within the apps/tools/and programs your employees already use.
For instance, when you look to bring a solution like video collaboration to your enterprise, you can work to embed video where your teams are already going to connect.
With today’s video conferencing technology, employees should no longer feel the need to go through the old process of booking a room and disrupting their natural flow of work by walking across the building and sitting in a conference room. Instead, your employees need to have access to video right from their desktop and mobile devices to encourage a face-to-face chat when needed without the hassle of coordinating a video meeting in another room.
Ultimately, the goal of investing strategically in collaboration tools, such as video, isn’t to force employees onto video for every conversation. Instead, your goal should be to ensure video is integrated into the apps/tools/and programs your employees use so that employees can escalate a complex conversation to video with a simple click.
Modern technology makes this is possible today. Adam Jacob, Principal Microsoft Architect at Polycom shares that a solution like Polycom RealConnect, “delivers a very familiar user experience that both Skype for Business users are used to and also, anyone with a standards-based room system is used to. It’s easy enough that you don’t need to engage with your IT department when your scheduling calls, they can just use their existing tools that they’re using today. Which of course ultimately means that work is done faster and this of course is better for everyone.”
Just as important as these planned interactions, the third tip advises companies to build workplaces that facilitate accidental or impromptu collaboration as well.
Jeff Rodman, Co-founder and Chief Evangelist at Polycom, Inc., points out that “unplanned interactions among co-workers, sometimes called ‘collisions’ are one documented need [of employees] that results in new ideas and higher productivity.” These collisions often take place within your open and accessible office layouts, over coffee or at the water cooler.
While it is impossible for employees to physically be in the same office or at the water cooler with colleagues located in another region or continent in real-time, there are newer collaboration technologies available that can simulate this experience.
In their article titled Inspiring Spaces that Reinvigorate the Office, Rebecca Charbauski, Senior Communications Specialist for Steelcase shares:
“Apps, instant messaging, texting and email can only get us so far. These forms of communication don’t account for those “accidental” yet valuable hallway conversations. And, many companies aren’t yet harnessing technology to help eliminate the disparity distance can create. Facial expressions and body language are vital components to understanding. Text-only communication is too easily misinterpreted and conversations can be quickly cut off when a new ping hits your nearest inbox.”
RealPresence Centro, for instance, is a platform many enterprises use within open, larger space environments. The platform comes equipped with a 360°camera providing high-quality panoramic viewing capabilities that capture everyone in the room. Employees can sit, stand, and walk around the room without ever worrying if they are still on camera or not. There are also four monitors, one on each side, which can display far-end participants.
Lastly, to address poor collaboration within your enterprise, you must also ensure you create room for privacy for your employees.
While planned and impromptu collaboration is essential, employees and small teams also need private space and the appropriate communication technology within this space to focus, generate and execute creative ideas. Huddle rooms serve as an excellent place for teams to have a focused strategy session, or for an employee to have some isolation to think and ideate.
RealPresence Trio can serve as a smart hub for group collaboration within these environments. Trio delivers every spoken word clearer with its patented HD Voice technology that can fit in any size room. With wired or wireless pairing with mobile devices, those seeking reprieve from open workspaces can listen to a favorite focus playlist to help stimulate creative thought.
Voice and video collaboration solutions no longer need to be disruptive to your employee’s workflow; when selected and integrated thoughtfully they are empowering. The key is to ensure you strategically invest in the right platforms that integrate into your employees’ existing workflows, the apps they already use, and your workplace design.