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How to Focus On Collaboration in an Evolving Workplace

 

We live in a time when the flexibility of the stereotypical “office” environment is changing the way we view the workplace. Out are the days of white walls and stuffy cubicles, and replacing these cookie-cutter cells are ideas of open-desk floorplans, coworking spaces, and even telecommuting options. In fact, the population of remote employees has more than doubled in the past decade, and nearly 90% of people report wanting to work from home. Plus, executives report that 78% of their remote employees are more efficient when given a choice of their work environment – not to mention saving an average of $11,000 per employee per year on overhead costs.

 

However, we also live in a time when employee engagement is catastrophically low. Less than half of the American workforce is engaged (source), which is costing corporations between $450 – 550 billion annually (source).

 

Besides the fact that remote workers have been proven to feel less stressed, more balanced, and more engaged, how else do these two concepts – flexible work environments and employee engagement – relate, and what should be done to make sure the inevitable way of the future has a positive impact on employees? Answer: A focus on collaboration!

 

More collaborative teams experience higher levels of employee engagement, as well as more innovative solutions and creative ideas. A team who leverages their diversity of thought and brings their various strengths to the table will work together to produce a much better outcome than someone who does it alone – after all 2 heads (or 4-5 heads) are better than one!

 

As geographical distance begins to play a bigger role in separating coworkers, collaboration is key – and much desired by employees to still feel engaged and productive in their role as a team member. In fact, 75% of employers rate “teamwork and collaboration as ‘very important’,” yet 39% of surveyed employees say that people in their own organization “don’t collaborate enough” (source).  So, what can be done to fix this gap?:

 

    1. Invest in Collaborative Tools: With the concept of the traditional workplace changing, technology is keeping up! Here at Assessment+, we love using Asana to collaborate on projects, assign tasks to teammates, and keep track of deadlines, and GoToMeeting to screenshare and visually present updates on ongoing projects! We also utilize Google and Microsoft apps that are integrated for collaboration, with document- and spreadsheet-editing software that are automatically updated as various team members edit. If you don’t think collaboration tools are necessary, check this out: 40% of millennials reported that they would pay out of pocket for social collaboration tools to improve productivity! (source)

 

    1. Hold Employees Accountable for Active Collaboration: It’s easy to get into a silo, working busily and independently to get a task done. However, more often than not, projects don’t fall completely and entirely on one individual. Teamwork isn’t just necessary; it’s critical. For this reason, it can help to simply remind employees during annual reviews, performance evaluations, or even on a daily or weekly “Goals” email or conference call update that collaboration is an ongoing and continuous goal for everybody. After all, 86% of employees cite lack of collaboration for workplace failures (source) and 97% of executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a project.

 

  1. Set the Stage from the Top Down: As with almost anything, change must be facilitated by the leaders of an organization. Teamwork takes just that: work. But by providing the example for working collaboratively, involving employees on decisions, and delegating appropriate tasks, leaders can slowly but surely implement a culture of collaboration.

Do you have other tips for how you and your team – remote or not – collaborate effectively? Click “Contact” on the menu above and let us know!