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3 Ways To Improve Collaboration In Your Business

By Doug MacKay - January 23, 2019

Effective collaboration in small business relies on understanding people and technology. We can’t work together without effective ways of communicating and collaborating. Technology is the tool, but it starts with your people. SMBs that take this into account can realize the benefits in employee engagement, increased productivity, and cost savings.

In business, one of the most effective paths to success is a highly collaborative team. Collaboration and clear communication increase employee engagement and productivity. And understanding the value of effective collaboration in your small business requires knowledge of people and technology. Studies have proven that workplace collaboration leads to success and innovation, but execution may be easier said than done.

Start With Your People

It’s important to understand how people's behaviors and attitudes affect your team, company, or customers. Collaboration begins and ends with people. According to Jennifer Coleman, Change Expert at SAP, small businesses (SMBs) need to understand that not everyone works in the same way. “Some people need quiet, thinking time. Some need people connections. Others need more analytics. People have different communication and collaboration styles.”

Building a successful team means working with those different styles. By learning what motivates their employees, keeps them happy, and makes them want to come to work each day, SMBs can inspire them to check their egos at the door and work for the benefit of the company.

Make The Dream Work

According to Forbes, “Despite all the focus on the value of working together, many companies still incentivize employees on their individual productivity. That can lead to a reluctance to work collaboratively. When people see that teamwork isn’t rewarded, they’re likely to find it difficult to see a benefit in collaborating.”

Some SMBs get good results by setting team performance goals that incentivize collaboration, not just individual productivity. I know what you’ll say, “What about slackers? Every team has one.” Possibly. But if an employee doesn’t engage with the team there are ways to handle it and get back on track. Leaders start by making sure everyone on the team knows its purpose, and that it aligns with the company’s culture.

It’s important to understand that “Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way,” and so does empowering them with the right tools.

Give Them The Right Tools

Technology has become essential to effective workplace communication and collaboration. It helps keep on-site and mobile employees productive, communicating, and happy. Email, office apps, cloud services, and devices are just some of the technologies employees rely on.

  • 83% of workers depend on technology to collaborate
  • 82% would be impacted by the loss of collaboration technology
  • 92% say mobile devices are important for collaboration

Luckily, most applications and services used today work on PCs, Macs, and Android platforms whether desktop or mobile. Office tools like Microsoft Office 365, Google’s G-Suite, and team collaboration apps like Asana, Slack, and Trello are cloud-based. What’s great about cloud-based applications is that they are regularly updated and patched by the provider, ensuring security and compatibility across the board.

Cloud-based solutions can operate with your existing laptops and desktops. Most rely on internet browsers as the interface and are priced at a cost per user rate. Your mobile workforce collaboration will benefit from the data syncing capabilities of cloud-based applications and companion mobile apps too, including mobile versions of the most common office applications mentioned previously.

Mobile technology has brought advances in audio and video communication as well. It’s become commonplace to see people taking meetings in coffee shops, airports, hotels, and from home. The ability to work from nearly anywhere, with teammates located in almost any location, utilizing tools like Cisco’s Webex Teams application and Webex Board, helps to cut down on the need for travel and related expenses.

Moving Forward

Deciding which collaboration tools are right for your business can be hard. Safely migrating communications to a new email platform or setting up your teams on new cloud-based office software may require some expert advice. A Managed IT service provider can help you assess your needs, wants, capabilities, and goals in deciding which services and devices you’ll require.

 
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