Pearson Change - Creating Collaborative Workplaces

"Competition makes us faster; Collaboration makes us better"Firefly

What is working collaboratively?

by Karen Pearson News

What is working collaboratively?

“The action of working with someone to produce or create something”

                                                                Enviable Workplace

Collaboration begins with a shared vision or understanding of what needs to be done.  But it has many facets to it and covers a wide range of areas, hence why it can be so easy to stop at good intentions and not actually implement collaboration fully within the workplace.

Collaboration in the workplace isn’t just about people, its how people align with processes, technology and the overall structure and design of the organisation.  It’s about enabling workforces to connect and share information with a wider network of colleagues.

It used to be about breaking down the office walls and pushing employees to work together and although this approach worked for some, for many employees they felt stifled by the words ‘working collaboratively’.

I have seen this a lot in organisations that are using collaboration as part of a solution for their cost cutting and reductions in headcount strategies where there is more of a need to work flexibly and collaboratively.  But the overall driver within these organisations is to cut costs and not necessarily create a collaborative workplace.

What this then results in is the walls/office space are removed creating open spaces with limited investment in technology to attempt to support a more agile/remote/flexible working environment.  This is normally with an expectation by the organisation for employees to grasp the concept and collaborate straight away.

However, this can be a real challenge.  Particularly when an individual has worked for over 20 years in a command and control environment and overnight are expected to work collaboratively – is this realistic?  I really don’t think so.

To create a truly collaborative working environment a balanced approach seems sensible.  Enabling employees to collaborate when and where they need to, but also letting them take advantage of alone time to idea storm and complete individual tasks.

There also needs to be a good and appropriate technology solution chosen that supports the organisation.  Alongside this there needs to be the development of a skill set in managers and employees that support and enable collaboration.

Some initial considerations if you are looking to bring more collaboration into the workplace would be:

  • It’s not advisable to have the main driver for creating a collaborative workplace as part of a cost cutting exercise.  Creating a collaborative culture within an organisation needs to be driven by the desire to increase engagement, productivity and innovation as part of a long-term strategy to create a sustainable business.

  • Work from a vision – begin with the end in mind.  What is it you want to achieve from this change and what investment is required to succeed.

  • Collaborate to create collaboration.  Get employees involved right from the start.  Share your ideas, thoughts and vision of creating more collaboration and explain the reasons behind it.  The more involved managers and employees are in the plans and ideas, the more engaged and committed they will be. 

It can take time, but working collaboratively brings so many benefits, and as a result creates sustainability within the organisation

If you are interested in having a chat about how this could work within your organisation get in touch by clicking here

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