Collaboration Improves Productivity in More Ways Than you Might Think
The importance of a collaborative environment has become more and more apparent in the workforce. Collaboration improves productivity and employee satisfaction, while creating an environment where everyone can thrive. But what does the ideal level of collaboration look like, and at what cost to rigidity, schedules, and deadlines?
Collaboration and participation arose out of necessity. For the past 50 years, public companies have been delisted at a faster and faster rate, and today public companies have a 1 in 3 chance of disappearing in the next 5 years. That’s 6 times the delisting rate from only 40 years ago!
While the obvious reason for the shorter survival rate is due to the exponentially faster market changes of the technological era, how to avoid being part of the statistics is a more complicated answer. Finding the right collaboration equilibrium is the first step.
Moving away from top down control
This is a process that does not happen overnight. Changes in company culture require time, and often lots of it. Pushing it too quickly can actually have the opposite effect, as artificially forcing teams to work together can backfire.
Rather leaders should focus their efforts on creating a culture of collaboration, by encouraging it from afar. This doesn’t mean that leaders can't jump in when needed and input their guidance, however, the ideal situation is to have employees initiate collaborative efforts by themselves. When employees understand that team success is more important than individual success, not only will collaboration be more genuine, but it will also be more effective and complete.
Why is collaboration so important?
In the digital age of communication many people think that collaboration is less important as data is readily available and human interaction isn’t needed for providing information. However, the opposite is true and there are a number of ways collaboration improves productivity:
When working together, employees learn from each other. Even if in the short term, it is quicker to work alone, collaborative environments create multiple inputs which translate into creative thinking and problem solving that is far more dynamic than in a non collaborative environment.
As a side effect, collaboration creates an engaged workforce where each team member- no matter how big or small- feels that they are contributing. In other words, motivation.
Collaboration also improves productivity. Digital information can be inaccessible, inaccurate, or out of date resulting in many wasted hours, and collaborating can solve the knowledge gap between different experts. That being said, digital collaboration can solve this problem as well.
Benefits of digital collaboration
With the rise in remote and hybrid work environments and a more international business setting, in-person collaboration is not always an option. This is where digital collaboration comes into play. Whether encouraging communication through easier platforms or sharing information that provides the bigger picture, there are many ways to take advantage of digital collaboration. In some cases it is even more effective than in-person collaboration.
Solutions such as DataRails combine the digital revolution with company wide collaboration in order to produce efficient and automated financial planning. Didi Gurfinkel, co-founder and CEO of DataRails explains: “In our increasingly data-driven age, more people from more departments need access to company information. A company’s finance team will often need to access data that was generated by non-finance departments. Access to marketing data, supply chain data, HR data and more, is vital for sound decision-making and helps the finance team steer the overall strategy of the business. By using tools that automatically import and process data across sources and formats, businesses can foster true digital collaboration for faster and smarter work, rather than having disparate departments.”
Downsides of collaboration
All in all, increasing collaboration has tremendous positive implications. A Stanford study found that employees who focus on a collaborative environment instead of an individual setting are 50% more effective at completing tasks. It also boosts motivation and provides a bigger sense of responsibility. However, not all collaboration leads to positive outcomes.
An increase in meetings, emails, and chats does not intrinsically lead to an increase in productivity. In fact when overdone, it can lead to burnout and longer working hours because employees now need to make up for time lost due to all of the meetings that chopped up what should have been productive working time.
In addition, talking about what needs to be done too much can lead to stress and less productivity, as opposed to working together which is the optimal form of collaboration. This is another result of “forced collaboration”. Just like many aspects of the business world, finding the right balance depending on the individual company’s product and needs is the hardest, yet most important aspect in improving collaboration.