Collaboration is essential for your employees and business for so many reasons. It develops team camaraderie, work relationships, and a sense of workplace community. It also helps drive business output and unlocks potential for growth. Tech giants like Apple have built their back-to-work policies based on in-person collaboration being instrumental to workplace culture.
But collaboration is also a process. And there’s a big difference between working with coworkers through a screen and in-person. While virtual tools help connect you no matter the distance, face-to-face communication can spark new ways of thinking and innovation. It can be fun to bounce ideas off each other, do brainstorming activities together, and tap into people’s creativity.
The quality of collaboration is only as good as the environment that supports it. Your workplace should be a place that sparks creativity and productivity. That might be in meeting rooms, on office couches, or even in the lunch area. We’ve listed 5 key tips to help you improve collaboration in your workplace.
1. Design your workplace with positivity in mind
The design of your office can play a big role in fostering creativity and collaboration. It can contribute to folks’ workplace experience and can be the difference between employees feeling engaged and excited in the office versus wanting to avoid it altogether. And while workplace design isn’t a new trend, a more focused view on the purpose of spaces in your workplace is.
When designing your workspace, think about what would make a positive impact on how your employees feel onsite. Think about the type of furniture that will encourage collaboration among coworkers. Do they need big tables to sit around? Desks? Couches?
Separating areas in your office for different purposes can also really help people get in the right mindset. For example, implementing a quiet zone will help folks get heads-down work complete, free from any distraction. On the other side of your office, make room for social spaces and collaboration stations. This allows noise and energy to flow, helping people to enjoy the workplace and spark renewed collaboration onsite.
2. Use the right tools
To make collaboration a priority in your workplace, you need the right tools and technology. Technology can help facilitate renewed collaboration and ways of working together onsite. When your team can’t make it all onsite together, technology like Zoom can connect those in the office with remote coworkers easily. Here’s some useful tools to spark renewed collaboration in the workplace:
- Whiteboards. A staple of brainstorming sessions everywhere. Whiteboards are great at getting people’s thoughts out so that everyone can see them and build on them. Include them in meeting rooms and around the office to spark spontaneous collaboration.
- Room booking technology. Using room scheduling software will help folks book the right room for the occasion, without hassle. People can look at how many people each room can sit, as well as the available amenities they might need, too.
- Communication tools. The likes of Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams have transformed collaboration. Communication tools can help folks connect with each other virtually. This helps collaboration in the workplace by making it easy to include folks who are working remote or on different hybrid work schedules.
- Hot-desking. When people don’t have permanent desk assignments, they’re likely to move around the office a little more. Hot-desking is a great way to spark collaboration by encouraging folks to sit next to different coworkers. This can spark new conversations and sharing of ideas.
3. Foster a community culture
When people are part of a community, they feel like they belong. They feel valued. They feel motivated. This applies to your workplace community as well. Your employees want to feel like they are a part of something bigger, and that there’s a support network around them. This will encourage them to put their voice out there and collaborate with their coworkers.
Fostering a strong workplace community culture takes time, patience, and of course, people. The more time your people choose to spend in the office, the better effect it has on company culture and community.
4. Get creative with your meeting spaces
Meeting rooms are where the majority of collaboration happens in the workplace. So it’s important that they’re set up for different types of discussions and ways of working.
Ensure your meeting spaces are unique and different from each other. This will help people experience a different vibe from each room, encouraging more creativity, engagement, and productivity. Here’s two types of workspace that show how different meeting spaces can help onsite collaboration.
- Focused collaborative work areas. These are mostly closed-off conference rooms and meeting spaces. It includes any area where teams can have focused sessions, take Zoom calls with remote colleagues, or have a safe space to discuss confidential subjects.
- Open collaborative work areas. Open collaborative areas are modular in nature. Imagine an area with chairs, couches, and bean bags that you can move around. Add in a few whiteboards or monitors on wheels. It’s a space where spontaneous creativity is encouraged. Groups of two or more can gather here for brainstorming sessions, problem-solving, and other modes of in-person collaboration.
Diversifying your meeting rooms can only be a positive for your workplace. You employees will love having the options to choose the space that works best for them.
5. Encourage socializing inside (and outside) the workplace
The number one benefit of working from the office, according to employees, is socializing with work friends. People get excited to go to the workplace when they think of the fun, impromptu social interactions that they could have with colleagues. This helps attract new talent to organizations, as well as encourages existing employees to ditch their work-from-home stations in favor of the office.
As workplace managers, you can organize fun events and activities to really help coworkers socialize with each other in the workplace. This might be a quiz night, themed drinks, or lunchtime picnics. Whatever gets your people together in the workplace will be beneficial for building strong relationships.
Pro tip: Organize activities outside of the workplace, too. This can do wonders for friendships, teamwork, and collaboration.
Collaboration is a key part of a successful workplace. It encourages your employees to work together and drives quality results over the line. And when your employees enjoy collaborating with coworkers, it can only have a more positive impact on your organization as a whole.
Want to know more about sparking collaboration in the workplace? Check out our webinar on all the ways to build a workplace people love.