What is Collaborative Working?

5 min read
Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland

There are few better ways to reach goals and boost output than through collaborative working. In a world where organisations are constantly expected to pivot and adapt, the power of being able to work together is invaluable.

The old saying that ‘two heads are better than one’ holds true when it comes to solving problems or pushing forward innovation. Here’s how to start evoking the sense of team spirit and collaboration that could drive better performance for your business.

What does collaborative working mean?

When it comes to business, collaborative working describes two or more individuals or organisations working together to achieve similar goals. According to the Institute for Collaborative Working, it can be thought of as referring to:

Relationships formed by committed organisations to maximise joint performance for achievement of mutual objectives and creation of additional value.

When we’re talking about collaborative working within one company, we’re describing a way for employees to thrive as part of a team as well as a valuable member of the organisation. 

The benefits of collaborative working 

The benefits of collaborative working are far reaching, here are just a few of the changes you might expect to see if you successfully implement a collaborative working strategy. 

Increased productivity 

When employees are working well as a team and experiencing high levels of camaraderie, they tend to be more invested in creating success for themselves and their teammates. This leads to higher engagement levels, which in turn results in a boost in productivity.  

Improved creativity and innovation 

A collaborative and supportive working environment also creates space for people to experiment and take risks, which tends to allow people to be more creative and imaginative. In fact, there have been studies which show that a collaborative group of people involved in a creative process can produce 28%

more new ideas than a group of people working on their own – which is a pretty convincing statistic. 

Better problem solving

Those higher levels of creativity also tend to boost problem-solving abilities, as employees are able to think outside of the box and know that their efforts will be well received – even if the results are imperfect. This is especially important when you consider the fact that The World Economic Forum believes 36% of all jobs across all industries require complex problem-solving abilities as a core skill.

Improved learning and skill development

Being confident in the support of colleagues and the wider team can also make it easier for employees to boost their own skills. This could be in the form of mentorship and coaching, or simply in increased motivation for improvement.   

Better working relationships and communication

Collaborative working is very closely tied to successful communication and the two can be strengthened in tandem. Likewise, when collaboration and communication are prioritised, better working relationships are quick to follow. 

Diverse perspectives and inclusivity

A particularly positive outcome of pursuing collaboration in the workplace is the way it can broaden perspectives and bring in diverse points of view. Collaboration only truly works when all members are given equal space and equal time to share, which means it’s a process that also naturally drives inclusivity. 

Enhanced job satisfaction 

Who wouldn’t enjoy working in a respectful, dynamic and collaborative organisation? Switching to a collaborative strategy offers the space to share ideas and encourage growth as well as creating an environment where everyone is working towards a common goal, which naturally raises satisfaction levels.  

Collaboration At Work

How to encourage collaboration in your team

Encouraging true collaboration is a longer process than you might think. Your team may already work well together or be great at sharing ideas, but to be an organisation that embodies collaboration, you need to first establish some basics. 

Create a culture of collaboration

The very first thing to do is to create a workplace culture that welcomes and showcases collaboration. Think about ways that you can grow a community spirit and put plenty of time into team building exercises, both big and small. 

This could be anything from extracurricular activities like trips to an escape room to simply encouraging people to put time in their diaries to catch up with colleagues over a coffee on a regular basis. 

Set up shared goals

Working towards a common goal is one of the best ways to help your team behave cohesively. Especially if those goals are based on shared employee and team values

Work with your teams to establish those goals and tie those back to the aims of your company as a whole. 

Foster a supportive environment 

Individuals who don’t feel supported are not likely to be able to work collaboratively. If you’re busy worrying about what your team might think of you or concerned that your ideas may be rejected or belittled, you can’t be a fully engaged member of the team.

Put the focus on being supportive and create an environment where psychological safety is a priority. 

Use collaboration tools 

These days, there are loads of brilliant tools that can help make collaboration easier. From project management software like Asana, Trello or Monday to something as simple as switching to Google Docs, to allow multiple editors at once, there’s software out there to support your goals. 

With a little experimentation, you’re sure to find software that is perfect for helping you build collaborative bonds. 

Establish effective channels of communication

It’s impossible to build a collaborative workplace without first putting effort into establishing effective channels of communication

Again, there’s plenty of software out there to help, from Microsoft Teams to specialised employee communication platforms, and the focus should be on creating an atmosphere where everyone knows which channels are best for which communications. 

Encourage openness and honesty

Without a space where everyone feels they can be their genuine self, you can’t establish true collaboration. 

Work on building trust within your organisation, prove yourself as an empathetic leader, display vulnerability and learn how to give good constructive feedback and you’ll soon see people begin to open up

Recognise effective teamwork

When you want to establish new habits and ways of working, be sure to make good use of timely recognition. When efforts are noticed and appreciated, employees are far more likely to repeat those positive behaviours. 

Look out for opportunities to share and celebrate successful teamwork and you’re setting yourself in good stead for a team that works, and thrives, together. 

Transform your culture with Mo

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We equip managers with weekly suggestions to energise and connect with their people, help teams build habits of recognition into their day-to-day rhythms and go beyond simple rewards as a way to motivate staff.

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