Creating a culture of collaboration starts with trust. It also starts with leadership that is fully committed to an environment of sharing and incentivizing a collaborative and team-based mindset. Leadership then has to relinquish control and ensure people feel empowered. The workplace is made up of people, that are together having an experience and a set of experiences, not just the physical place those people go to. That is why a people-centric collaborative culture built on trust is the lifeblood for any organization.
Whatever team communication and collaboration technology tools are chosen, its goal should be to support and come down into the flow of how people actually work. This is the heart of inflow or in the flow collaboration. Collaboration happens between people, who are collaborating around content that is created and/or shared during collaborative interactions. It is a continuum that includes multiple technologies and modalities that people weave in and out of depending on the context of the collaboration.
Individuals involved in collaborative interactions move between solo activities and group work in community spaces seamlessly. We move through periods of synchronous or real-time and asynchronous communications throughout our work day. The key thing required in this continuum is context.
Digital Workplace transformation is occurring in every organization whether it is ready to embrace it or not. Communication and collaboration are at the heart of and critically required for every business process and workflow. Communication breakdowns cause crucial disruptions to business workflows, thwarting goals and outcomes.
While team collaboration tools are critically important, they can’t fix a culture that lacks trust and is not collaborative to begin with. Collaboration tools are only as effective as the people that use them. The tools help to bridge, connect and hold people’s business interactions together and provide context. In order for any business to operate successfully, it requires people to share and collaborate. It’s therefore critical they have the right tools that can support it.
Organizations have to focus on establishing a culture of trust, that incentivizes and rewards sharing, connecting and team building. Organizational success is dependent on the success of teams, not just an individual star performer. However, individuals need to be cared for, cultivated and encouraged to connect and contribute. The focus has to be on building a culture of people willing to share and work together on common goals and outcomes.
The fact is, organizations are growing more geographically distributed, diverse and dispersed. The workforce has been extended to include contract workers, external firms, partners and a vast ecosystem of people that require a high level of secure information sharing and collaborative interactions, which in itself is a determining factor for successful companies. Enterprise leaders have to encourage understanding and respect for the diversity and multiculturalism that make up their organizations.
As people learn to value and respect the input of others, they will embrace disagreements, differing opinions and conflict, that is needed to foster innovation and innovative ideas, that will ultimately benefit the business. This is where having a true culture of collaboration will bring companies a competitive advantage. Business success will be in combining a collaborative culture, with effective team collaboration tools that help to simplify processes, support seamless interactions, conversations and sharing. The technology, people and collaborative culture mix will serve to reduce friction and result in organizations achieving measurable business outcomes.
Just as collaboration tools by themselves don’t necessarily create a collaborative culture, a collaborative culture is non-existent without the tools to support it. Enterprises planners have to evaluate and implement the right tools that aid in and support collaboration. Planners have to understand their core use cases and match those to collaboration tools or software, that provide those capabilities. For example, enterprise collaborative interactions will require tools that support the following set of features, functionality and capabilities:
- Team Messaging and persistent chat
- Voice and video communications
- Content sharing
- Administration controls
- Integration into productivity and business applications
- Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing (NLP)
These capabilities work together to support a seamless collaboration continuum that is inextricably linked and tied to people’s work processes and business workflows.