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How to encourage workplace collaboration — and reap the benefits

Trends are always coming and going, but one that’s stuck around for much longer than most is the focus on workplace collaboration and engagement.
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Gone are the days of employees sitting at their partitioned desks working alone; 2017 and beyond is all about hot-desking, huddle rooms and brainstorms. More businesses are starting to see the positive benefits of workplace collaboration.

Most importantly it allows for an increased sense of community among workers, which improves overall productivity and means they’ll help colleagues in need and go above and beyond what’s required of them. It also allows for more creative thinking, with colleagues able to bounce ideas off each other and consider the feedback of multiple people rather than just their own.

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With the right technology, businesses can also help reduce stress in the workplace. A recent study conducted by Barco found employees’ peak stress levels were 63 per cent higher when technology problems occurred in meetings, compared to when meetings ran smoothly. Participants’ heart rates also climbed up to a staggering 179bpm as a result of unreliable technology – an indicator of serious stress levels.

In order to quickly encourage effective workplace collaboration, there are three specific areas of any workplace that must be reconsidered and optimised.

Meeting rooms

The meeting room is the one area where we’re most used to engaging with others, and yet many of them are not equipped with the technology required for seamless workplace collaboration. For example, while most are equipped with a large screen or monitor that allows staff to share their screens, it often involves having to configure both the computer and the monitor in order to display everything correctly – eating up precious time.

There are now various wireless collaboration tools available that make this problem a thing of the past. They allow any employee to wirelessly share content from their laptop, smartphone or tablet on the big meeting room screen almost instantaneously, so the entire team can enjoy multi-device collaborative working.

Desks

A desk is generally perceived to be a space of one’s own. This might work for some, but it’s also one of the biggest hindrances to workplace collaboration; with everyone stuck at their own desk, it’s feasible that an employee sitting at one end of the office might never speak to someone based at the other end.

This is why hot-desking has become so popular. By giving employees the freedom to sit wherever is available, they will inevitably communicate with colleagues they might never have talked to previously, which spurs collaboration and offers each colleague new perspectives on their work. In order for hot-desking to work, employees must be equipped with laptops and other devices that can work from any location within the office, as well as high-speed wireless internet that can be accessed from a multitude of devices.

The IT infrastructure must also be flexible enough that employees can access the relevant files or folders wherever they’re sitting. If this is all implemented properly, it can be one of the most effective ways to improve collaboration.

Huddle rooms

The huddle room is still an unfamiliar area, but it was one of the biggest trends of 2016 and will continue to be a brilliant way of encouraging collaboration. It’s essentially a small, open room that can be accessed at any time and has all the technology necessary for collaboration, including screens, high-speed Internet, wireless content sharing gadgets and anything else necessary to swiftly meet business requirements.

With a huddle room, employees can get together to collaborate on a project, quickly brainstorm ideas or host a phone call in an environment that’s more creative than a desk area. However, without reliable, high-performance technology, the huddle room will fail to serve its purpose.
Conclusion

If companies can optimise these three specific areas of the workplace, they’re bound to see the many benefits that come with employee collaboration and engagement. Employees will be happier, the quality of work will be higher, and millennials – the younger generations who have had a huge influence on the importance of collaboration – will be more likely to want to work for you.

Image: Shutterstock

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