Over the past 18 months, the global pandemic has created a rift in the traditional 9-5 working model. Businesses have had to quickly adapt to new ways of working and use technology to enable collaboration and productivity. We spoke to Allan Ryan, Executive Director at Hargraves Institute and collaboration expert, to share five benefits of creating a strong collaborative culture at work.
1. Improved decision-making
“While collaborative decision-making can be more complex and take more time, it’s also more effective. This is because when you have one person calling all the shots, that person is limited to seeing the problem from one perspective or a single lens. When several people are involved in the decision-making process, the connection and bond created are conducive to information sharing and more thoughtful decision-making,” says Allan.
Collaborative decision making is more important than ever before. One report shows that over two-thirds of CEOs believe value chains will shift to cross-functional value chains, allowing organisations to create more value than they ever could alone.1
TIP: To make decision-making easier, make use of products that will help map out ideas and support brainstorming sessions with your team. Post-it notes are a great tool for ideation and can be stuck on a decision board for greater visibility.
2. Culture building
“Workplace culture is created by the norms we establish when working together and is reinforced in our daily interactions. So, it makes sense that without these interactions, workplace culture can fall apart.
“At the beginning of COVID-19, when businesses moved to remote working, we saw an unfortunate decrease in connection. I think it’s important for businesses to focus on rebuilding the social connection between teams,” highlights Allan.
Failing to develop company culture could be holding your organisation back. Research suggests organisations that have succeeded in building highly collaborative cultures are five times more likely to be high performing.2
3. Generating high levels of energy
“Human connection is achieved when there’s an exchange of energy between two or more people. Collective effervescence, a concept coined by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in the 20th century, describes this rise in energy that people feel when they come together for a common purpose,” says Allan.
“With the huge shift to remote working, many of us know that this energy is more difficult to build online,” he continues. “That’s why it’s so important to come together in a physical space.”
Effective collaboration has been proven to help people lead happier and more meaningful lives. One article describes the development of a scale called the ‘Tendency for Effervescent Assembly Measure’ or ‘TEAM’. This scale asked individuals to rate their agreement with statements like ‘when I am at a concert, I feel connected to those around me’. Results found that those with higher TEAM scores had stronger feelings of social connectedness and better wellbeing. Lower ‘TEAM’ scores were linked to higher levels of loneliness.3
TIP: Build confidence with your team in coming together in the physical workplace. Communicate your COVID safe protocols and have plenty of anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitiser available for their use.
4. Greater levels of happiness
“Humans are social beings. Social connection enables employees to build a sense of belonging and trust with other employees. When trust is formed, you create a psychological safety net that enables greater transparency without fear of judgment,” highlights Allan. “Happiness and satisfaction in a team can only exist when that feeling of belonging and trust is established.”
One study revealed happy workers are 13% more productive and that being surrounded by others is one of the best ways to boost happiness levels.4
Another study examining the effects of communication on workplace success found almost half (44%) of respondents said communication barriers were a leading cause of unsuccessful projects. Furthermore, 31% reported poor communication affected employee morale, and a quarter said it affected performance.5
5. Diverse thoughts and opinions
“There’s no denying that different points of view keep thinking fresh. Several studies have found strong correlations between diversity in the workplace and productivity, innovation and success. This is because when you bring diverse individuals together, you create a wonderful mix of different ideas, opinions and perspectives,” explains Allan.
“Diversity isn’t always defined by age, gender and ethnicity. It also includes different ways of thinking,” adds Allan.
One survey found 80% of employees are more likely to believe they work in a high performing organisation when that organisation is committed to diversity and inclusion.6
Why? According to research, gender-diverse firms are 15% more likely to outperform their counterparts, and likewise, ethnically diverse firms are 35% more likely to outperform their counterparts.7 Diversity enhances creativity, inspires better problem solving and leads to new opportunities and innovations.
“It’s clear a collaborative work culture provides an abundance of benefits for organisations, from fuelling innovation to better decision-making to higher levels of happiness. It’s time we discover better ways to ensure our teams can connect, collaborate and celebrate to reap these benefits,” says Allan.
Access all the tools and products you need to cultivate a strong workplace culture and bring your people together. We have a range of solutions to help you connect, create and celebrate with your team. View our full range online.
1Gibbings, M., 2017, ‘Why leaders must excel at collaborative decision making’, <https://www.hrmonline.com.au/section/strategic-hr/leaders-collaborative-decision-making/>
2Atlassian, 2021, ‘How to create a collaborative culture, 2021, <https://www.atlassian.com/work-management/project-management/project-execution/collaborative-culture>
3Baer, D., 2017, ‘Protests, Parties, and Sports Games All Fill the Same Human Need’, <https://www.thecut.com/2017/01/why-being-part-of-a-crowd-feels-so-good.html>
4University of Oxford, 2019, ‘Happy workers are 13% more productive’, <https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2019-10-24-happy-workers-are-13-more-productive>
5Netrananda, 2021, ‘How to Avoid Top Miscommunications at Workplace’, <https://www.orangescrum.com/blog/how-to-avoid-top-miscommunications-at-workplace.html>
6Webster, S., 2020, ‘The benefits of a diverse workplace’, <https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/the-benefits-of-a-diverse-workplace-20200218-p541zy.html>
7Nguyen, T.M.A., Mafico, N., 2017, ‘Diversity and Innovation in Australian Workplaces’, <https://bel.uq.edu.au/files/18820/Diversity-and-Innovation-in-Australian-workplaces.pdf>