Today’s businesses need to move fast, and good team-working and collaboration is foundational.
Here are eight ways to improve collaboration in the enterprise:
1. Enable BYOD/CYOD flexibility
Collaboration across the enterprise is enhanced when workers are free to be productive wherever they are. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) schemes enable individual employees to work on the device that suits them best. People work in different ways, and there is a now massive range of computing devices available to businesses to offer their workforces. These include powerful smart phones, touch-screen tablets, 2-in-1 detachable and convertible notebooks, desktop-replacement Ultrabooks, clamshell mobile workstations, and all in one PCs. Added to these are the traditional fully-loaded desktops and mini desktops for home working, and office-based business workstations.
An important part of having BYOD/CYOD flexibility is to actually allow employees to work remotely on their device of choice. For some organisations, this will mean a change in policy or business culture. But as long as the business gives its workers freedom, whilst reinforcing that the organisation values collaboration and teamwork, employees will be both productive and loyal.
2. Centralise communication
It’s important to have some sort of central point for communication, delivered and managed by the business. This could be a fully-featured enterprise collaboration system, or it might be an intranet or social media platform. Providing that employees feel comfortable using the system to communicate and share information, collaboration will be the natural result. Cloud-based systems can offer access through any web-based device, which means that workers can collaborate at any time, from wherever they are. Clear and open communication is important in establishing productive collaboration. It’s also a good idea to have clear guidelines on how people should share information in an efficient way. If you can avoid duplicating information, and wasting time with irrelevant or repetitive communications, then your collaboration will be better for it.
3. Implement enterprise collaboration
There are many high-quality enterprise collaboration systems available. The great thing is you can set them up and have teams working together in minutes. Many enterprise collaboration tools have project or workflow management built into them, which helps teams to work together to a particular timeline. Microsoft SharePoint is one of the most popular enterprise collaboration tools on the market. It enables you to create online spaces for business projects; find and pull-in team members using search, and keep all project-related materials in one centralised location. Team members can also have their own blogs, through which they can collaborate and share expert information.
Another good tool is Yammer, which has an intuitive user interface. It also has social media features such as newsfeeds, likes and event hashtags, which help teams to engage and collaborate. Other tools worth noting are Huddle for online content; Jive, particularly for mobile and remote collaboration; and a cloud-based content management system called Box, which enables teams to securely create, upload and share content quickly and easily.
4. Use social networking
Use business-centric social networking, perhaps established channels like LinkedIn or Facebook, as they will give your teams the means to collaborate. They can also help you to create a sense of identity for the business. However, social networking requires clear guidelines for employees, because the systems are often public-facing, which means the company is on show to outsiders. Other enterprise social networking tools to consider are: tibbr, which allows you to customise your profile and follow employees who have similar interests.
Chatter is a secure social network for sales departments, which helps salespeople to work as a team. For teams that need to share videos, Kaltura allows businesses to store training workshops, product demos, and other video content in one central location. Videos can be posted privately or publicly and shared easily.
5. Encourage conferencing
Audio and video conferencing has become a must-have for every modern business. It’s now an essential tool for linking up disparate teams, pulling in experts, and connecting people across the world. There are some great on-premise conferencing systems, packing high-definition video and audio. These can project a highly professional corporate image. Meanwhile, the quality of web-based conferencing has improved to the extent that it is possible to create highly successful collaborative meetings at a moment’s notice, using something like Skype.
There are also a number of excellent web conferencing services, such as GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect Pro, GlobalMeet and Cisco WebEx. These offer features such as the ability to record a meeting; real-time screen sharing; file transfer and remote desktop control. The better services let the presenter pass controls over to others, and allow for participant annotation. They may also allow duplex support, so that meeting attendees can speak without having to take turns.
6. Create a culture of collaboration
Lastly, it’s important to create a culture of collaboration, leading by example. Business heads should be using collaboration to share and disseminate information. There should be training available to help workers to get the most out of the collaboration tools and software available to them. According to a study, by training firm ESI International, many members of the workforce don’t possess the skills required to effectively collaborate, so they need to be instructed and guided on how to do it. Research has also found that a very high proportion of business professionals need to improve their communication skills.
Professional development can include improving communication and collaboration skills, resulting in greater team working, productivity and efficiency.
In addition, many businesses have found that they have been able to improve collaboration by redesigning the workplace. Practical changes you can make include altering room and desk arrangements to better support mobile working, hot-desking, and video and audio conferencing. Breakout areas should facilitate conversation and collaboration, and flexible spaces with high-quality conferencing facilities will enable teams based in different locations to work together on the same project.
Having a collaborative business is as much to do with your business mindset as it is providing the right processes and technologies. How could you improve collaboration in your organisation?