Collaboration is the backbone of any successful business. Sharing ideas and working as a team generates extra creativity, increased motivation amongst staff members, and ensures jobs will be completed more efficiently. It also encourages employees to develop new skills, as they are able to learn from each other while they work. Considering these benefits, it’s no surprise that 75% of workers rate collaboration as ‘very important’, while a third claim it makes them more loyal to a company.

Even if you are seeing positive results from your current collaboration policies, there are ways to make them even better. With the help of some innovative new technology and modern employment practices, these are three simple changes you can incorporate to make the best use of all the talent within your business.

Encouraging employee collaboration through tech adoption

1. Implement a web portal for important data

If your company stores and shares most of its data on spreadsheets, you might already be aware of the problems caused when collaboration goes wrong. If multiple employees have access to the same documents, there’s always a risk of data being overwritten, mistyped or deleted by mistake. It can also be easy to confuse older versions with updated figures and reports, which could ultimately ruin your business.

Collaboration might not even be possible if software isn’t up to date between members of staff, leaving them unable to work with the spreadsheets as a result.

Switching traditional spreadsheets for web-enabled ones can help eliminate these pitfalls. Using Excel files within a web application means you and your employees can only access the most current version, preventing any mix-ups with outdated ones.

Approved users are able to edit their own versions of the file, without affecting the underlying document which runs each individual application, meaning that any mistakes won’t impact the work of others. As an administrator, you’re the only person who can make changes to this core spreadsheet.

The software created by EASA is particularly useful for collaborative purposes, as it offers flexible online access, meaning that any device connected to the internet can use the portal. This will automatically log usage details, recording everything that happens to all the spreadsheets involved.

Colleague communicating about a project

2. Improve company communication channels

While email is the standard way to communicate with clients and customers, it rarely helps internal workplace collaboration, as lengthy threads often become confusing and disorganized all too quickly. The sheer volume of messages received—an average of 121 each day—also means you and your employees could easily miss important information by mistake. As such, it’s difficult to stay on top of tasks and projects through email alone, to say nothing of the wasted time and ruined productivity that would ensue.

Instead, you can implement a number of collaboration tools to enable effective communication between members of your team. Programs like Slack, Ryver, and Flock are great for sending direct instant messages and arranging conversations amongst groups working on the same project. Platforms like Asana and Podio are also useful for assigning tasks, giving feedback on particular jobs, and efficiently organizing company workloads.

Modern collaboration tools will likely prove particularly useful to younger members of the workforce as well. Writing for Forbes, Ultimate Software’s chief technology officer noted that many of these tools offer the same user experience as many social media platforms. Noting the generation’s preference for “open forums and discussions”, the CTO noted that many of these communication channels deliver information and receive responses in real time—resembling popular apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. He adds that they are “incredibly intuitive for most of the workforce regardless of industry, thanks to their familiarity with similar consumer-based product tools.”

And with 38% of millennials sure that outdated collaboration processes are damaging to business innovation, these tools provide perfect ways for your staff to share ideas.

Adopting Agile working strategy
photo credit: Vancouver Film School / Flickr

3. Introduce an agile working strategy

Agile working refers to the concept of a fluid workspace which encourages ideas and creativity, as well as morale and productivity. This typically involves a flexible working environment—a policy embraced by many modern businesses. In fact, 70% of global professionals currently work remotely at least once a week.

From reducing stress to promoting a better work-life balance, this strategy is said to have many benefits for staff. And by introducing this flexibility as part of an agile working scheme, you have the chance to collaborate with a wide network of talented people beyond the confines of your office.

By providing the best possible technology, such as the tools outlined above, employees won’t need to be on site to do their work, and able to complete tasks wherever and whenever they want. Rather than sticking to one specific role, this policy will also encourage staff to broaden their skill set by working with other members of the team.

This way of working will help you attract new employees and retain your current workforce, with almost 60% of staff believing flexibility to be the most important benefit when looking for a job. However, the possibilities for distance employment are equally important. Through agile working, you can collaborate with people all over the world. This means working with the most exceptional individuals in your industry, even if they live thousands of miles away.

Conclusion

It may be surprising that collaboration can improve even while staff work remotely, but using technology to band together is at the very heart of an agile strategy. By doing so, you can tackle projects with the assistance of the best in the business, no matter where they are based.