Collaborating in the office can take many forms. It can be asking your coworkers their opinion on a design you’re working on. It can be brainstorming the next big campaign or product you develop. It can even be asking your work bestie for advice on a personal problem over lunch. The magic of the workplace is that it opens up avenues for people to get together, innovate, and solve problems together. But what’s the key to actually driving that collaboration? It’s technology. Welcome to Workplace Tech Talk. A new series where we cover the basics (and the complexities) of technology in the workplace. Today, we’re tackling how technology can fuel collaboration among people.We’ll walk through the benefits of collaboration in the workplace. We’ll also go over the 6 must-have technologies that can empower collaboration in the office. Let’s dive in.
Benefits of collaboration in the workplace
A successful business isn’t just made up of one good idea. It’s made up of many people working together to bring many good ideas to life. Collaboration and teamwork are fundamental for any business. They are also fundamental to creating a great employee experience. According to Bit.ai’s report on collaboration, 54% of employees say a strong sense of community (great coworkers, celebrating milestones, a common mission) kept them at a company longerHere are a few other benefits of collaboration in the workplace:
- More creativity: Sometimes being in a room where folks are sharing their silliest to best ideas can help spark creativity. Collaborative brainstorms with multiple people can be hugely productive for employees in nearly any role.
- Faster execution of ideas: People can’t do work in a silo. When employees can collaborate and share the weight of a project among different members, they’re better able to meet deadlines and deliver their work.
- Enhanced sense of community: Collaborating also fosters a stronger community. People feel a sense of belonging when they know they are all working towards a common goal.
- Improved employee experience: Chatting with just a few people at the office can significantly improve overall well-being and create a more social environment. According to a report by WTW, more than 60% of employees with high social connectivity report being highly engaged at work.
- Empowers personal and professional development: For employees, communication and working well with others is an important professional and personal development skill.
Now that we’ve covered a few of the benefits of collaboration in the workplace, let’s dive deeper into which types of technology make collaboration happen.
6 types of technology that power collaboration
Now that we’ve grazed just a few of the key benefits of collaboration in the workpace, it’s time to talk about how we actually create that collaboration. Collaboration can’t happen without the right setting, mindset, and most importantly, tools.
1. Virtual meeting tools
With employees spread out across the workplace, their homes, coffee shops, and more, meetings are what connect remote teams and allow everyone to collaborate. A good virtual meeting tool is essential for getting together as a team, having one-on-one’s, and moving projects forward. According to our recent survey, nearly half (49%) of employees in the workplace spend more time than they did before the pandemic in virtual meetings with off-site colleagues. That’s why having high-quality virtual meeting software and equipment is key in your workplace. A few options to consider are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or WebEx. You’ll want to pick a tool that allows participants to share their screens, communicate via the chat feature, or even break into smaller groups within the meeting. All of these features will help meeting participants collaborate during the call. No matter which tool you choose, ensure that it’s easy for your employees to use and connect to from the office or at home.
2. Conference room reservation
The breeding ground for collaboration is in a meeting room. Gathering stakeholders together in a room to go over status updates, talk through blockers, and ideate for the future can be an efficient and effective way to move projects forward.In order to facilitate all kinds of collaboration in meeting rooms, it’s important to have a meeting room booking system. Your tool should allow your employees to quickly find available rooms that offer enough seating for their participants. It should also facilitate collaboration with the right equipment. This could be whiteboards for brainstorming, screens for virtual conferencing, or even just pens and paper for old-fashioned note-taking.
3. Virtual brainstorming
Brainstorming can be a great way to generate a bunch of ideas. But with remote, hybrid, or distributed teams, it can be difficult to run a brainstorming session that includes both in-person and virtual employees. That’s where virtual collaboration tools come in. Tools like LucidChart, WebWhiteboard, or Zoom have built-in collaboration features. They allow people to contribute ideas no matter where they are. A tool like FigJam can even be useful for a fully in-person meeting. It allows people to add ideas in real-time on their own computers instead of shouting out ideas.
4. Desk booking
Hot desking is rapidly growing in popularity. As companies move to a hybrid model and are figuring out the best use of their spaces, many have opted for a hot desking seating arrangement. And that’s a good thing! Hot desks offer a new way to collaborate with teammates. It encourages folks to sit next to coworkers that they need to work closely with that day. It also allows for folks to sit near coworkers they’ve never met. This can help spark new conversations, idea-sharing, and innovation.In order to facilitate desk booking and easy collaboration, you’ll need to invest in a good desk booking system. It should be intuitive and quick for employees to use to find and reserve an available desk. It should also allow you to search where coworkers are sitting on a map so teammates can quickly find each other to collaborate onsite.
5. Digital communication
Digital communication runs businesses. Emails or quick messages via Slack can help teams stay informed and provide them an easy way to contribute ideas. Emails are useful in keeping a paper trail, while Slack is great to get a quick answer from a teammate.In addition, digital communication can foster team bonding. Employees can post shout-outs to other teammates, discuss relevant trends, or share pictures from their recent vacation. All of this communication can help strengthen teams, create better camaraderie, and ultimately drive collaboration.
6. Centralized files
Collaboration isn’t always creating new ideas. It can also be referencing historical documents or storing information for future teammates. For example, if one employee creates a perfect process on how to accomplish a task, it’s important to document and store processes so other employees can find it. This form of knowledge sharing is key to helping employees align. There are many different technologies that help with file centralization such as Google Drive, One Drive, Confluence, and more. Look for a technology that is cloud-based, easy to sift through, and allows employees in a distributed workforce to access. Plus, always remind your teams to keep their files up-to-date and labeled correctly.—Working together to accomplish a goal is far more effective than going at it alone. Collaboration can bring people together, improve productivity, and enhance the employee experience. But collaboration can’t just happen on its own. Tools and technologies empower collaboration in the workplace. In order to create a workplace that thrives on collaboration, make sure you invest in the right technology. Desk booking, meeting room reservations, virtual brainstorming tools will all help you cultivate a culture of connection. If you’re interested in learning more about helping distributed teams work together and collaborate, check out our new ebook on How businesses can master the rise of distributed work.And stay tuned for next month’s Workplace Tech Talk!