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The five factors to address so you’re getting the most out of collaboration

As the business world evolves – spurred on by technology and increased globalisation – successful collaboration has never played a more important role.
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With fewer employees occupying fewer desks on a full-time basis and the rise of a fully functional mobile workforce, the ability to work together, share ideas and information, and engage with colleagues wherever they may be based, can often mean the difference between success and failure, regardless of the size of the organisation. 

Getting collaboration right can also deliver tremendous benefits to companies and give them that differentiator that can be turned into competitive advantage.

The dynamic relationship between people, technology and the workplace can therefore only be enhanced by collaboration – consider these five principles for embracing this trend and gaining the most value from it.

(1) Added agility

There’s little doubt that the office of today is a different place from the workplace of just a few years ago. More flexibility, more technology and more staff working remotely is something most companies are seeing. However, in order to maximise collaboration opportunities and minimise cost when it comes to physical space, a new approach is needed – one that looks at teams and tasks as opposed to departments and functions.

Dubbed activity-based working, this approach requires a more detailed understanding of the workforce. The benefit of doing this successfully is better corporate agility – increased speed to market and of decision making, removing downtime, and better use of expertise. 

(2) Everyone’s talking about cloud

We all use cloud in some form or another, from social media networking and web-based email, to business scheduling and communication tools. The adoption of cloud in the workplace is not something new, but organisations are still to fully realise the benefits it can bring. When it comes to today’s distributed workforce, cloud has a big role to play in making collaboration work. 

Typically organisations make use of a combination of cloud technologies, both on premise and hosted by a third party and its collaboration tools – provided in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS) – that will make the most impact. The SaaS model provides flexibility and cost-effectiveness, allowing employees to use it as and when needed, once again supporting the makeup of today’s workforce.

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(3) It’s all about digital

From the digital revolution a few years ago and the drive to create paperless environments, to today’s digital work flow, technology is changing how we work and how we work together. Today we’re looking at interactive screens with URLs and hover information that can’t be reproduced in 2D. Employees have migrated into the digital realm and continued the natural evolution towards enhanced interaction and collaboration.

(4) Corporate networking

Beyond the likes of LinkedIn or even business versions of Facebook, one of the future drivers of collaboration will be increased acceptance of corporate networks based on the social media model. While communication between colleagues within the same business via message apps like Skype for Business or Slack is standard practice, more organisations are now looking to add in communication with suppliers, customers and consultants in order to fully bring the workforce together.

(5) Changing space, changing behaviour

Space still has a role to play in the modern business environment, particularly the use of collaborative spaces. Whether this is a physical space, complete with enabling technology, or a virtual arena, again supported by the right technology, this working practice will bring about a new level of information exchange and boost to productivity when done properly. And, within that space, behaviour and meeting etiquette will need to adapt to the changes in order to bring about that openness and trust. 

Going forward it’s clear that collaboration will only increase in importance and be a key driver of organisational productivity and growth. The key is ensuring you’ve got the right technology, right behaviours and the right approach to make it a sustained success.

An working environment set up for collaborative working is one thing, but imagine having it modelled on a famous on-screen office – like the ones profiled in this feature.

Martin Large is CEO at Steljes.

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