We've all had those experiences on the job. You're working together with people on a project. Ideas are flowing. You're communicating openly. You have a common goal. Everybody is hitting their deadlines and finishing their respective deliverables on time. You feel happy and excited to work with your team — and you end up with a stellar outcome.
Unfortunately, we've also all had those other experiences on the job. You know the ones … You're trying to work together but you're lacking a common vision. People are arguing about their deliverables and missing deadlines. Everybody is grumpy. You just want to get the stupid project done ASAP (and then, ideally, never see any of these people again in your life). ARGH!
If you have to take your pick, obviously the first option is the preferable work environment. But just how do you achieve this kind of high-performing atmosphere? It's all about creating a culture of collaboration.
A "culture of collaboration" isn't just some fancy buzzword, we swear. You can take steps to create a more collaborative work culture in your team or company, whether you're working on-site or remotely. Below, we tell you exactly what we mean by a "culture of collaboration" and give you some actionable pointers on how to create one.
What is a culture of collaboration?
First things first: What the heck do we mean when we say a "culture of collaboration"? We know, we know, sounds fancy, right? It's not that complicated, actually.
With a "culture of collaboration," we’re talking about an atmosphere where people work well together, with minimal friction and streamlined workflows. Basically, it’s just a fancy way to say "good teamwork," TBH. It means you're vibing with your colleagues — like described above.
Vibing with your colleagues benefits all of the individuals who have to work together. It also benefits companies, which can gain from the increased efficiency and productivity that good teamwork creates. (Oh, and increased efficiency benefits individuals too — who doesn't want to get their tasks done faster and finish their workday sooner?!)
A company culture of collaboration is created with policies and tools that promote teamwork and togetherness. For example, if you work in an office, you might have daily stand-up meetings to bring everyone together to share ideas and project updates. If you work remotely, digital collaboration tools like project management software and messaging apps can help create this feeling of togetherness and unity.
Psst, pro tip: We've got a whole article on promoting digital collaboration for remote work teams here.
What does a collaborative work culture look like?
So, what does that collaborative work culture look like? We gave you an example in the intro. Now, let's talk about a few specific elements that add to that collaborative atmosphere. Here are some of the components you need to create a culture of collaboration (don't worry, we get into the steps of how to achieve each of these points below):
- A shared vision. A common goal is the first step in uniting co-workers so they work well together. Everyone should be on the same page about what they're trying to achieve as a group and about their role in contributing to that larger goal.
- Personal accountability. Just because the team has a shared vision doesn't mean they do everything as a team. Individuals need to have their personal tasks and take responsibility for those tasks. This ensures the whole team can move forward together.
- Good communication. Honest, open communication helps reduce friction and improve collaboration. People can communicate through various media, from email to project management tools, chat apps, and (of course) in-person meetings and video calls.
- Transparent decision-making. Teamwork requires team decision-making. If a decision impacts the shared vision and goal the whole team is working toward, everyone should be aware of that decision.
- Innovation readiness. It's easier for people to collaborate if they are rewarded — not punished — for taking the initiative. Encouraging people to share thoughts and ideas openly helps build the basis for an accepting culture that promotes teamwork. As Google CEO Sundar Pichai puts it — reward efforts, not outcomes.
How to create a collaborative culture in the workplace
So, we've talked about some building blocks that make up a collaborative environment. Now, let's see how you can implement those elements in your own team. Here are some actionable steps to attain that collaborative workplace we all want.
Establish a vision
A collaborative team starts with a collaborative vision. Set a common goal for your team or company to work toward, and ensure individuals and teams recognize how smaller objectives and tasks will move them toward that larger goal.
Ensure goals are measurable and achievable. For example, don't tell your sales team to boost sales. Give them concrete individual and team numbers to work toward. This can drive team performance.
To make sure everyone in the company has access to the vision at all times, consider using OSlash and creating the following documents:
o/roadmap > to elaborate on the roadmap for the next year
o/quarter-okr > to specify the OKRs for everyone in the company for the quarter
o/weekly-priority > whether it’s creating a feature, tackling a bug, or launching a marketing campaign, keep the entire company in the loop with a document highlighting the weekly priority of each function
Invest in technology that brings teams together
The right technology makes it easier for teams to share information, reducing silos and improving workplace collaboration. For example, a project management tool like Asana improves transparency, allowing everyone involved in a project to view tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. (Hint: We provide a roundup of more helpful collaboration tools here)
Teams can also benefit from link-sharing tools like OSlash. OSlash takes complicated, long URLs and boils them down into easy-to-remember (and easy-to-share) shortcuts such as o/daily-standup or o/holiday-calendar. With the autocomplete function, people don't have to deal with copy-pasting links. Plus, the search function allows you to look for the shortcuts you need across all of your devices and browsers. OSlash saves people time and effort in sharing essential info every day.
Build in opportunities for collaboration
If you want your people to work together, you have to give them opportunities. Encourage projects that span teams and departments to create a sense of community and remind everybody that they're working toward shared goals. Encourage collaborative behaviors, like open information sharing, use of collaborative communication tools, and sharing wins (and losses). All of this adds up to a more supportive work environment.
For example, let’s say you're looking for creative solutions to enhance your marketing. Encourage the marketing department to sit down for brainstorming sessions with people from other teams, such as customer service. Customer service reps are on the front lines, interacting with people who use your products. They can provide valuable insights into what they want and how to reach them.
Quick tip: You can create channels such as #kudos and #announcements on Slack where people can acknowledge and elaborate on big milestones and commend those who worked hard to get there. A channel such as #ask can also allow anybody to post queries and get their doubts answered fast
Help team members build bonds
You can help teammates build bonds by ensuring they have opportunities to connect beyond everyday workspaces. Team-building activities that build trust are great for eliminating silos and creating a more collaborative workforce.
For example, you might have teams participate in trust exercises, like high ropes courses. Simply getting to know people better through non-work-related events, like book clubs and post-work drinks (or virtual drinks), also helps!
Make room for remote team members
If you work in a remote or hybrid (partially on-site, partially remote) team, it's important that remote workers are considered in your plans to create a collaborative company.
For example, ensure that remote teams have the technology they need to stay connected, such as messaging apps and video conferencing tools like Zoom. Also, ensure that relationship-building activities offer remote options. This list of remote team-building activities offers some ideas.
Offer incentives and reward teamwork
A company built on positivity will help create a more collaborative work environment, as people will be more eager and open to sharing ideas and working together. Reward teamwork and offer incentives for people to work together.
For example, if two teams complete a successful cross-departmental collaboration project, highlight their achievement more widely (like in the company newsletter).
Give good feedback often
Giving positive feedback is another way to help build a workplace culture of positivity that fosters successful collaboration. Schedule regular one-on-one check-ins with each person on your team and hold regular team meetings. These opportunities to touch base are also a great way to improve internal communication. Regularly giving good feedback will also make it easier to provide constructive criticism (which, let's face it, is sometimes needed)!
Work faster and easier with OSlash
Creating a workplace culture of collaboration requires the right policies and tools. One must-have piece of tech for your arsenal? OSlash.
With OSlash, people can manage, find, and share information in an instant. OSlash makes communicating easier and ensures every team member has the info they need to get their job done. It additionally creates a single source of truth for everything important in the company. Ready to give it a shot and see for yourself? Get started with OSlash today.