In most businesses, collaboration among colleagues is essential to solve problems and keep projects moving forward. Sharing information, ideas, viewpoints, and resources not only helps organizations meet important milestones but also dramatically improves productivity. One study, for example, found that employees tasked to work collaboratively worked 64 percent longer on assigned tasks. What’s more, they reported feeling more engaged and motivated.
The challenge, of course, is to encourage collaboration. Depending on company culture and individual personalities, collaboration may not happen naturally or spontaneously. What’s more, with many organizations moving to a remote work model in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it may be even easier for employees to only work independently.
Luckily, there are a number of things companies can do in order to foster collaboration, even when workers are unable to meet in person. Here are three approaches that can work well in almost any organization, even under the most challenging of circumstances.
Encourage New Introductions
One of the challenges of fostering collaboration in an organization is that employees don’t always have the opportunity to interact with new colleagues. They might see the same handful of people on their team every day, but outside of that, they might not interact with anyone else in other departments or other offices. When this happens, employees are more likely to be focused more on their team than the bigger picture.
But something interesting and almost magical can happen when you introduce workers to colleagues they might not have met otherwise. Not only will they potentially forge new relationships within the organization, but it is those relationships they will likely turn to when collaboration is needed. Sure, not every new introduction is going to yield a productive collaboration, but the key here is to clue employees into the internal resources they have at their disposal when it’s necessary.
Empower Employees to Socialize
Socialization is an essential part of fostering collaboration. When employees get to know and like each other on a social basis, they tend to work better together when faced with a goal. As such, an important part of fostering collaboration is also to empower employees to learn more about each other on a personal level.
And that’s where interest groups come in. Creating groups where employees can chat about specific interests they share—both personal and professional—can go a long way to having employees interact socially. When it’s time for fostering collaboration, they’ll feel more comfortable collaborating with colleagues with whom they already have a connection.
Reduce Hierarchy (or Eliminate It)
“There are no bad ideas,” is a common brainstorming mantra. But sometimes employees feel intimidated when they have to collaborate with managers who are much higher in the organization. What’s more, some managers may feel like their role is to approve or deny idea or solution generation rather than proactively participate in the discussion. In fact, research in recent years has suggested that hierarchical organizations foster infighting rather than collaboration, and as such are less productive.
If collaboration is a priority for your organization, then it’s necessary to reduce hierarchy or even eliminate it. That means that any employee is allowed to interact with any other employee, regardless of their position within the organization. Fostering a sense of openness and camaraderie will go a long way to not only encourage collaboration, but a real sense of belonging and loyalty.
If you’re looking to promote more collaboration among your team, then Zenvoy can help. Contact us for a demo to discuss how our platform can help connect your employees, forge new relationships within your organization, and ultimately empower workers to collaborate productively.