February 5, 2014

Why Office Collaboration Is Essential in the Modern Workplace

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Guest post by Michael Bertrand

A healthy work environment is one in which employees are all on the same page and understand their roles and associated tasks. In the modern world, having such a streamlined operation is essential. Businesses can no longer rely on static or slow movements within the organization, as geographic and social barriers continue to fall due to technology. Today, companies are competing on a global scale rather than a local one. Business leaders need to understand that the corporate landscape is more competitive than ever, so it’s important for them to ensure employees are performing at optimal levels.

No matter what industry a company is in, efficiency is now crucial, and without a healthy, collaborative office environment, some struggle to get the most from their employees. This is a major issue for many well-established businesses. In the past, siloed departments were an accepted practice, as it allowed professionals to sharpen their skills and gain expertise in a certain field. 1to1 Media notes that the siloed approach is still the norm in traditional sectors.

In the modern workplace however, executives are finding that departments are becoming increasingly interdependent. For example, marketing teams are realizing that by working with the IT department, they can launch big data programs to collect and analyze consumer data sets. This is just one example, but it highlights the business potential that increased collaboration can unlock.

Even so, collaborative policies are still rudimentary at many organizations. This not only means companies are operating inefficiently; it could also lead to declines in employee engagement levels. When professionals are able to see how much other departments, or people, depend on and value their work, they’re more likely to take pride in what they do. For this reason, HR leaders need to take the necessary steps to facilitate collaboration between employees in all sections of the enterprise.

Think about Technology

New tech tools can be a great way to encourage and facilitate employee interaction. Video conferencing systems, for example, allow employees to interact with each other regardless of location. However, TechRepublic warns that many companies fail to ask “why” when considering new technology. Rather, they tend to implement new products first, and attempt to find a usage scenario second.

This approach can result in the adoption of technology that appears useful on the surface, but is really just an unnecessary expense. In order to avoid this, it’s important for executives to create a roadmap for how technology can increase efficiency and help employees stay connected, before making a purchase. Remember, product research should always be the first step when evaluating a new solution.

Ease Up

When new programs are launched, managers often take too much control during the early stages of such initiatives. This micro-management philosophy deprives organizations of the chance to benefit from the talent they have recruited. By overseeing things too closely or putting an excessive number of regulations in place, businesses limit their employees’ creativity, TechRepublic noted.

The more rigid the structure is, the less likely co-workers are to come up with innovative plans. Instead of adopting a close management approach to problem solving, executives should encourage employees to think about and openly discuss their solutions. This can quickly turn into a great brainstorming session in where new ideas are built off of previous suggestions. It’s also a simple way to show employees how beneficial simple interactions in the office can be.