If you want your employees to innovate, you have to let them collaborate. But that’s easier said than done when your teams are divided across different office locations, or even different countries.
Luckily, the necessity for employees to actually be in the same room as each other has been overcome by modern tools and channels which allow us to communicate with our peers from remote or separate locations.
Google docs, or other electronic document management systems can facilitate collaboration by enabling multiple employees to work on documents together.
And portable devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops can make group work easy while away from the office.
Cloud computing, instant messaging, email, video conferencing & collaborative online documents have totally transformed our understanding of the practice of "collaboration."
Deloitte’s The Collaborative Economy 2014 found that 56 percent of employees were happier when collaborating in their workplace.
And a study from Cornerstone OnDemand revealed that 38% of workers feel there is not enough collaboration in their workplace. Both numbers are set to rise as more millennials in particular seek collaborative work cultures.
But what is it that makes an environment collaborative, and what does this environment look like? Is it a physical space, or is it a shared ethos? Is it made up of virtual relationships?
At Reward Gateway, we rely on each other in five different time zones. I am connected to my colleagues through three devices, our HR hub which is interactive, our internal use of social media, collaborating on googledocs, email, video call, and a ton of other online apps that we all use.
We even had a live stream from Sydney, Plovdiv and London to connect all our employees together at our last quarterly all-staff meeting (pictured below).
This isn’t just important for communicating across time zones though. The growing sensitivity to work life balance means greater freedom for employees working from home.
I personally live two hours from my office so the ability to log in remotely and use a portable device is important to me. The modern liberation from location allows me to participate in online collaborative working and group discussions as if I were there in person.
It is not only significant in terms of wellbeing but also financially contributes to the bottom line of the company.
According to Inc. Magazine, employers can save around $11,000 (AUD) annually per telecommuting worker. Employees are also seeing financial benefits, saving between $2,000 and $7,000 per year.
But how do we become connected in this way?
You’ve got look at the core of your business mission. Energising your company ethos, and truly engaging with the values of your company is the foundation of creating a dynamic collaborative working environment.
The modern collaborative work environment is not only the physical space but the shared employee culture.
Working in a team drives innovation, productivity and growth. And the integration of virtual communication as a social collective is a huge step forward in terms of the modern workplace.
As more and more organisations experience the challenges of a disparate workforce, it becomes increasingly important to unite employees with a consistent company ethos in order to achieve shared goals.