How to Increase Team Collaboration in 2021
Just about anyone will tell you that team collaboration is important, but do you know why?
Indeed, team collaboration is one of the fundamental pillars of any successful business. At the end of the day, it's impossible for a team to produce great results or experience long-term success if they can't work together to their fullest potential.
Here at Slite, we're all about team collaboration. We're passionate about our team collaboration software that helps remote teams all around the world work together better and enjoy doing so. However, we're also obsessive about consistently improving our own team collaboration so that we're always performing our best.
That's why we've decided to write this comprehensive guide on team collaboration. Not only will you learn what team collaboration is and why it's both important and beneficial, but we'll also dive into how to build a collaborative culture in your own workplace step-by-step.
What does team collaboration mean?
As you're likely already aware, the word collaboration means working together. Whether you're collaborating with one other person or a whole group of people, you're working together to carry out and ultimately complete a given task.
When you add the word team before collaboration, the term takes on a slightly different meaning. We're still talking about working together, but it's within an established team. Basically, you're referring to an established group of people or team working together.
Although team collaboration can theoretically refer to any kind of team, most of the time the term is used in professional contexts.
Overall, whether we're talking about distributed teams or in-person teams, we're referring to established professional groups finding the best ways to work together and achieve success when we're discussing team collaboration.
Why is team collaboration important?
Effective team collaboration is absolutely essential for any workplace, whether employees are completely remote or meet in-person every day.
Improving team collaboration isn't just important because it makes sure that employees can communicate with each other effectively either. Indeed, there's a growing wealth of research that shows that excellent team collaboration comes along with tangible benefits.
Indeed, a 2020 CodeGiant study of 1400 executives, employees, and educators revealed that 86% of workplace failures were due to poor team collaboration.
If that doesn't convince you of the importance of successful team communication and collaboration, here are a few more statistics that stood out to us.
- 63% of American workers want to quit their jobs because they feel poor team communication hinders them from doing their job effectively.
- 80% of American workers have experienced stress due to poor communication in their workplace.
- Extremely connected teams have shown a 21% increase in overall profitability.
- Projections show that 70% of workers will spend more time using collaboration tools and platforms in the future.
Here at Slite, we're all about successful team collaboration. We provide team collaboration software to help teams reach their full potential, but we also truly walk the walk ourselves. We're always trying to optimize and fine tune how our team members collaborate and communicate with each other.
Here are the top five reasons Slite thinks basing your company's culture on communication and successful collaboration is absolutely essential.
1. Improve company culture and employee relationships
First of all, building a collaborative culture in your workplace allows team members to get to know each other on a deeper level and enriches their interpersonal relationships in the short and long term.
This absolutely works to your advantage because team members that have great relationships have not only been shown to collaborate well, but perform better in the workplace overall.
For instance, a 2017 Harvard Business Review study reported that workplace friendships increased employee performance. They attributed this performance increase to factors like the ability to seek advice, ease of accessing information through informal networks, and improved morale.
Another study found that 50% of the positive changes in communication patterns in the workplace were accredited to social interactions outside the workplace.
In addition, great team collaboration and communication makes it easier to build an authentic, enriching company culture that all team members are proud to be a part of.
2. Increase overall efficiency and productivity
Plain and simple, effective team collaboration has been shown to increase employees' efficiency and performance overall. We can't imagine that there's a company on the face of the earth that would say no to a little boost in efficiency and productivity in their workplace!
Basically, when teams collaborate better, the results speak for themselves. Their communications become more meaningful and they spend less time on needless phone calls, email chains, and other back and forth communications. They're better able to build off each other's ideas, address problems when they come up, and let their creative juices flow.
Incredibly, in 2017 Forbes reported that companies who promoted team collaboration were 5x more likely to be high performing. That's pretty incredible.
3. Foster creativity and innovation
Just as the old saying goes, two minds are better than one. In fact, the more minds the merrier! Ultimately, effective team collaboration is one of the best tools in any company's tool belt to help foster creativity and spur innovation.
Even the most creative people experience mental blocks and need to have a chat or brainstorming session with their team in order to get inspired again.
You'll also never truly know the best way to approach a certain task or project until you've considered all the options available. Different people always have different perspectives, so collaboration helps you consider a wide variety of ideas before you decide on the best way to move forward.
This is why Slite is such an effective collaboration software. It's the perfect solution to give employees the space to flesh out their own ideas independently and then gather (virtually or in-person) to share the best of the best.
4. Nurture learning and knowledge exchange
This point should go without saying, but it needs to be appreciated in its own right. Successful collaboration is the best way to optimize the constant knowledge exchange and learning process that should go on within any excellent team.
Learning doesn't always need to happen in a formal learning environment or even a structured course. Oftentimes, individual team members, project managers or other colleagues can be your best teachers. Collaboration in the workplace is incredibly powerful because it allows people to learn on the job without even realizing it.
For example, excellent collaboration can look like an individual team member teaching their entire team a new skill and thus improving overall team performance in the long term.
5. Bring teams together
Remote work is quickly becoming the new standard for many professional teams around the world. Whether they're working remotely on occasion or full-time, workplaces and employees alike are seeing the advantages of remote teams and reaping the benefits.
A 2021 Gartner study on remote teams and knowledge workers (defined as people who work in knowledge-intensive occupations like engineering, information technology, writing, finance, and the like) really drives this fact home. Indeed, they projected that 51% of knowledge workers would be working remotely at least part of the time by the end of 2021.
One of the biggest difficulties associated with remote work is team collaboration. It can be tricky to establish processes and workflows that authentically foster communication and collaboration virtually and across different time zones.
That's exactly why effective team collaboration is so important. When you prioritize it and find what works best for you and your team, it will help address the disconnect that can come with remote work and establish great, sustainable habits that’ll help your team thrive no matter where they are in the world.
What are the benefits of team collaboration?
Improving team collaboration isn't only important, it's also highly beneficial for teams of all shapes and sizes. We started to explore the advantages that come along with a collaborative environment in the previous section, but we're going to take a deeper dive into them below.
You'll be hard pressed to finish this section and not want to improve team collaboration in your workplace right away.
1. Create a culture based on collaboration
In the previous section, we talked about how collaboration helps improve relationships and build an authentic, healthy company culture.
Once you've set the foundation for a collaborative culture in your workplace, the sky’s the limit. Rather than being a team that collaborates well, you'll be a team with collaboration built into its very structure. It'll be intertwined with everything from your communications to your documentation to your daily operations.
Indeed, Slite is the perfect collaboration tool to build a company culture entirely centered around working together. For example, our client Pumpkin was able to build a collaborative writing culture from the ground up. They use Slite across all their departments and for their different kinds of content. They now create, share, and contribute more than they ever have before.
2. Foster motivation and sense of purpose
Human beings are social creatures. Regardless of whether they're interacting and working together in personal or professional situations, it makes them feel good more often than not.
Indeed, teams that prioritize collaboration feel better, more motivated, and have a stronger sense of purpose in their workplace overall. A 2021 TeamStage report even showed that employees who felt heard in their workplace were 4.6x more likely to perform their best.
Motivation isn't only good for individuals and key for successful teams, but it also has great effects for companies and employers. It's been documented to reduce absenteeism, increase profit, and increase work quality as well.
3. Promote a sense of ease and familiarity
People who collaborate well in a professional setting promote a sense of ease and familiarity with other team members. This kind of sensation isn't always easy to achieve, especially for more introverted people, so it's handy that collaborative relationships can help an entire team get there.
Basically, teams who collaborate well communicate well. They find it easy interacting with each other and working with each other in general. Over time, this kind of environment fosters a general sense of familiarity and camaraderie and permeates into all parts of a company's day-to-day operations.
4. Increase general communication skills
Continuing in the same vein as our last point, excellent team collaboration and communication go hand in hand. That means that a team that collaborates well communicates well. Let's be honest, most people can benefit from leveling-up or fine tuning their communication skills in one way or another.
Communication skills are important in all professional contexts, industries, and social situations. However, there seems to be a disconnect between how much people value communication skills and how good their communication skills actually are. For instance, a 2020 ProjectCo study showed that while 89% of people ranked communication as extremely important, 8 out of 10 people ranked their own business's communication as average or poor.
5. Improve problem solving skills
No matter what problem you're facing, whether in life or in a professional situation, there's always more than one way to go about solving it. Each individual's idea of the best solution to a problem will differ based on their personal knowledge, experiences, opinions, and personality.
Indeed, this fact is one of the biggest benefits to effective teamwork and collaboration. Great team collaboration helps team members develop their problem solving skills in the short and long term because they get exposed to so many different ways of doing things.
They may see a fellow team member solve a problem in a way they would have never considered, and that'll certainly make them look at problems from a different perspective in the future.
How to build a collaborative culture in your workplace
It's likely that your team is already working collaboratively to some degree, that's great! However, after reading all the benefits of effective team collaboration, you may be wondering how you can take your workplace collaboration up a notch and integrate it into your overall culture.
In order to do so, here are some of the first steps you can take. You'll be on your way towards a collaborative culture in no time.
Set team goals
If you really want to make sure that your team is collaborating to their highest potential, you'll need to agree on what exactly excellent collaboration means to you and your team members.
Different individuals and groups of people will have different conceptions of what good teamwork looks like. Some remote work teams might envision working together by using collaborative tools like Slite, while others might imagine regular in-person team meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Whatever the case, it's important to get everyone on the same page by setting team goals. Hold a meeting and come to an agreement on what you want excellent collaboration in your workplace to look like.
Most importantly, remember to reassess your team's objectives regularly. Team collaboration goals are dynamic and will likely change depending on your company's needs.
Establish clear expectations & guidelines
Now that you've decided on your team collaboration goals, it's time to establish clear expectations and guidelines to help you get there. If you really want to take your team collaboration to the next level, you'll need to be specific about what steps you'll take to do so. It's simply not enough to say you want to collaborate better and leave it at that, you'll need to specify exact collaborative behaviors you'll be adopting.
Here are some examples of what kinds of collaboration expectations you might consider determining:
- What kind of communication tools and collaboration apps you'll be using (and under what circumstances).
- Exactly what procedures, guidelines, and processes you'll be following whenever a group is collaborating.
- How internal communication will look on a day-to-day basis.
- How you'll ensure equal participation amongst different team members.
- What to do when collaboration isn't working well or there are problems that need to be addressed.
Create a safe communication environment
One of the biggest roadblocks to great team collaboration is communication. Basically, if team members do not feel comfortable or safe communicating freely in their professional environment, they will not be able to work together to their fullest potential.
Unfortunately, many people are especially timid or shy in the workplace because they're worried about saying the wrong thing or being perceived negatively by others.
Creating a safe communication environment where diverse opinions are welcomed, a relaxed leadership style is encouraged, and everyone keeps an open mind can do wonders to build a culture based on collaboration.
Be mindful of team member's strengths & weaknesses
At the end of the day, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some people prefer to work on a team, whereas others feel more confident working autonomously. In the same vein, some people are extroverted and feel that communication is a breeze, whereas others are introverted and shy in general.
Whatever the case, it's important to highlight individual strengths when trying to improve communication and collaboration. Rather than expecting everyone to adapt to a specific collaboration approach, try to take advantage of people's natural preferences.
For example, encourage more confident, extroverted people to take on high energy, communication-based roles within teams. On the other hand, allow more introverted people to take on more autonomous roles where possible.
Use team collaboration software
Nowadays, there's a collaboration app for everything. It makes total sense to take advantage of the variety of software and tools out there to help with all your team collaboration needs.
All you have to do to select the perfect team collaboration software is think about your company's needs. Ask yourself what functions you need your collaboration tool to have and look for one that offers them.
For instance, communication is frequently divided into two categories: asynchronous and synchronous. Basically, asynchronous communication occurs with some kind of time lag whereas synchronous communication happens in real-time.
Here at Slite, we use our own software for all our asynchronous communication needs. We also love Slack for synchronous communication. It's a workflow that works incredibly well for us, and we're sure it would for you too.
Be consistent and walk the walk
Last but not least, excellent team collaboration is a long-term, dynamic objective. There's no magic solution or one way to get there. You'll need to work towards it consistently, regularly reflecting on what works and what doesn't and optimizing your approaches accordingly.
Don't preach team collaboration and let things fall by the wayside in your own workplace. Be sure that you do the work to integrate it into the very structure of your company in order to build a culture that's truly based on collaboration.
The future of team collaboration
Now, we all know that team collaboration is essential for any company's success, but what about the future? Will collaboration keep being important? What will it look like? How will companies want to collaborate on a day-to-day basis?
At Slite, we know that the power of collaboration has significant staying power and isn't going anywhere. Nevertheless, how companies want to collaborate certainly is changing. Rather than using tons of different collaboration tools and working together by any means possible, companies are looking to refine and perfect their collaboration workflows.
Slite doesn't want to be one of a thousand different collaboration tools that you use. We want to be one of the only collaboration software you need for all your professional needs. We love providing teams, and especially remote teams, with an easy-to-use tool that covers everything from planning to organizing to working on projects. We want to provide a product that will bend to their style of working, rather than the other way around.
Because of this reality, it's more important than ever for team collaboration software to integrate easily with other apps and solutions. Teams often already have tools they know and love, so being able to integrate them seamlessly with a new collaboration tool is a serious bonus. For example, Slite has ready-to-use integrations like Slack, Trello, Asana, Github, and more.
Overall, if you're ready to take your team collaboration to the next level and make it a permanent facet of your company culture, Slite is the collaboration tool you need. You can even make a free account in minutes. Sign up with your team for free today.