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Building a Collaborative Workplace Culture

If you ask CEOs, HR leaders or even employees what are the workplace challenges they are currently facing, ‘lack of collaboration’ would be definitely on their list. Even various studies prove so.

An Aon Hewitt report titled ‘Best Employers India 2016 Study’ states that collaboration at the workplace is amongst the top three sustenance drivers for the best employers. For the rest and majority of the organizations, collaboration remains a core business challenge.

Another research conducted by Cornerstone On Demand revealed that 38 per cent of the employees admit that there isn’t enough collaboration in the workplace.

Isn’t it implied that people have to work together as teams to produce the desired results? Of course it is, however, the collaboration vibe still goes missing.

Collaboration has a direct co-relation to the productivity, work efficiency, problem-solving, decision-making and employee retention. Also, with the growing strength of remote, divorce and global workforce, collaboration has become more important than ever for organizations.

The two prominent reasons for the lack of collaboration are trust and ego clashes. Consequently, it leads to inter-personal conflicts and adversely affects the collaboration dynamics.

The key to address these issues lies in promoting a collaborative culture. Evan Rosen, in his book ‘The Culture of Collaboration: Maximizing Time, Talent and Tools to Create Value in the Global Economy’ emphasizes that in the absence of culture, collaboration comes to a standstill and even the best tools, processes, systems and leadership strategies fall flat.

The popular online American shoe and clothing retailer Zappos offers an excellent case study in a collaborative mindset.

Collaboration is in-built in its DNA and every employee is groomed in a way that they want to put their best foot forward when it comes to cohesive working. Right from its core values to office space design, everything speaks of collaborative efforts.

Similarly, companies like Google, Accenture and Microsoft have succeeded primarily because of a collaborative work environment. Compensation and perks are just secondary motivators.

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So, if you want to on the same page as these successful organizations, here are some ways to build a collaborative workplace culture:

Give a Sense of Purpose

 A team without a goal is like a ship without a rudder. If collaboration is forced, it won’t work. So, give them a sense of purpose to connect strongly with. Make people see value in what they are doing, how it will impact their life and how their contribution can lead the organization to greater heights.

Design Open Workstations

A cubicle set up makes people work in isolation. It is their solace when things aren’t going well in the office. Common work areas will help employees interact more and share their workplace concerns/ideas. It will even remove the hierarchy barriers.

Recently, Dell got rid of its closed cubicles to replace it with open, brightly lit and stylish work stations. However, to ensure privacy of employees for meetings and certain other activities, the company has also created walled rooms and quiet zones.

Dell believes that the makeover will foster an open work environment and attract younger talent.

Encourage Innovation

A Robert Half survey highlighted that shortage of new ideas and too much bureaucracy are the major roadblocks to organizational breakthroughs. When you give freedom to employees express their ideas and brainstorm together, it creates a team spirit.

It also improves the intra-team relationships, reduces conflicts and gives a feeling of togetherness in accomplishing goals. Employees open up to each other, paving way for collaboration.

Deploy Collaboration Tools

In many cases, ineffective communication also plays a devil in creating conflicts because people get inaccurate, incomplete or incomprehensible information.

In case of teams required to work virtually or remotely, this is a potential danger to collaboration. So, makes use of online collaboration tools which have capability to document, store, track and report information at one single accessible point, no matter where the person/team is located.

Collaboration is the need of the hour. Sooner the organizations tackle this challenge, better it is for their success.

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