We talk a lot about collaboration here at Wrike. Partly because it's our favorite topic and we wouldn't be able to function as a company without it. But also because trends continue to point toward more remote collaboration in the future. It's part and parcel of everyday work and it will continue to be so.
Which made us think: for the companies that are struggling to implement a culture of collaboration, what are three easy hacks that could make it happen? Here's what we determined:
1. Make Space for Collaboration
Whether you're talking about cubicles and areas where your colleagues physically work or the virtual spaces created with cloud services and instant messaging, there must be a way to create inviting spaces for people to meet and work together.
For example, Zappos designed its new HQ in Las Vegas so that workers can easily move to a new workspace. Data and power cables dangle from the ceilings so you can plug in anywhere, and common areas are abundant so that you're bound to come into contact with people you wouldn't ordinarily bump into.
And what about remote teams? Companies like Shutterstock have made room for collaboration with the extreme practice of always-on video conferencing, where remote workers are part of a Google Hangout for 8 hours a day, allowing them to speak as if they were all in the same room. This way, even remote workers get a chance to build a sense of camaraderie with the other team members. And they can instantly turn to one another for information or assistance by turning to their video conference screen.
2. Push Tools for Sharing
Making shared spaces is impossible without the right tools. We suggest these three or four tools to make collaboration a reality:
— Realtime messaging tool: Think Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facetime. Something that allows people to talk and video chat with a remote colleague in real time.
— Task management tool: Think Wrike (of course). Something that makes teamwork efficient, allows for assigning and organizing tasks, and eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails or IMs regarding work.
— Knowledge base tool: Think internal blogs or wikis (and Wrike can do this very well too). Something that allows processes to be documented or expertise/best practices to be shared with the team.
— File sharing tool: Think Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Something that allows you to easily save, sync, and share files with the team. (If you use Wrike, you'll be able to easily attach these to tasks.)
3. Trick the Body into Participating
People are more attentive at meetings when standing versus sitting (especially if they don't have their laptops). There's also much more participation when the team is discussing problems around a whiteboard as opposed to watching someone present onstage in a large auditorium. When issues and diagrams illuminating unsolved problems are posted on whiteboards lining the hallways — or in internal blogs and wikis — you're more likely to see other solutions volunteered by people outside of the core team.
Whatever your meeting or discussion may be about, prime the team for participation by encouraging a more active posture, and getting in the way of boredom, complacency, and silos.
What are your best collaboration tips?
I'm curious what hacks you've used to get teams collaborating or even participating proactively in a meeting. Hit the comments and share!
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