The end of a financial year is like the end of a calendar year in many ways. It’s a time to reset, start over and plan ahead, with many of us committing to make the next one even better than the one before. We know where we went wrong and we’ve learnt important lessons, or so we like to think.
The 20/21 financial year was unlike any before, with a pandemic completely transforming the way we work and in many cases, negatively impacting business operations. Creating a collaborative work environment won’t stop the next pandemic, but it will mean you’ll have a cohesive, effective and most important, agile team, ready to adapt and even thrive when the business changes.
The benefits of a collaborative workplace are numerous. This type of environment:
- Creates strong bonds between employees
- Utilises the strengths of all employees
- Builds trust and allows for vulnerability
- Allows the business to pivot and stay agile when things change
- Creates a culture not based around ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentalities, where senior management make decisions and the rest of the staff follow orders
We’ve put together a brief guide to creating a collaborative work environment, with product recommendations to make working as a team a breeze.
Work with other departments
It’s easy to get stuck in your department and barely meet your colleagues, but there are times it’s useful to collaborate with people outside of your team. You may discover new ideas, hidden talent and you’ll certainly get a better understanding of the organisation as a whole. This means you’ll have more patience, empathy and will ultimately work better as a team.
We love the Mondo S Curve Activity Lounge for casual chats.
Connect through team building
Connecting with your colleagues doesn’t just have to take place at your workstations, in meetings or even in the office. Finding fun ways to get to know each other and build trust can be a refreshing break from work, particularly through team building sessions, playing sports or getting to know each other in an office breakout space.
We recommend the Mondo Straight 5P Lounge with Corner Arms for team bonding in the office.
Debating is an excellent way to challenge assumptions and share ideas, and can completely change the way you collaborate in the workplace.
Debating shouldn’t be aggressive, rude or offensive, or done at inappropriate times. Instead, designate times for debate, like during creative brainstorming sessions or particular meetings, and set out rules (like constructive feedback only) to ensure everyone understands the boundaries.
Identify strengths and weaknesses
A great way to kick off a project, team meeting or get-to-know-you session is by asking each team member to describe their experience, strengths, interests and even passions. This gives everyone a chance to better understand each other, and makes it clear who is best suited for particular tasks. We all work better on projects that get us excited, so this is all about where each person will thrive, and not just about professional experience.
Throwing ideas around is easy with the Quadro A Legs Modern Boardroom Table.
Be open and honest
Collaboration is impossible without honesty and the freedom to speak openly about ideas. It can be difficult in the workplace, especially if your office culture isn’t one where feedback is encouraged. Establishing honesty and having tough conversations is essential to effective team work, but only when done in a respectful, constructive and kind way. Honesty shouldn’t just be reserved for the junior employees either; a truly safe workplace encourages feedback all the way up the chain.
Showing vulnerability and having honest conversations is simple with the Switch Round Meeting Room Table.
Have you ever found yourself half-listening to what someone is saying, anxiously waiting for your turn to talk? Unfortunately, it’s a common experience for many of us. We think we know what’s about to be said or think we know better, but it’s not that simple.
Collaboration is all about give and take, sharing ideas, and listening as well as speaking. The next time you lose focus or find yourself waiting to speak, take a moment to regroup and really listen to your colleagues. At a minimum, they’ll feel more comfortable around you and you’ll develop a sense of trust.
Have a truly collaborative chat at the Quadro Square Legs Counter Table.
Understand your company's mission
The mission and vision of your company is probably mentioned during onboarding or addressed briefly at company-wide meetings, but that doesn’t mean staff fully grasp what the company’s values are. Rather than running over vague or lofty ambitions, choose one or two key parts of your company’s mission, and ensure all employees have them front of mind when representing the business.
Get on the same page with your team at the Switch Collaboration Large Counter Table.
Tools and Strategies
Encourage creativity and innovation
One advantage of a new employee is getting a new set of eyes to assess your processes, systems and assumptions. You don’t have to wait for an outsider to come up with innovative or creative suggestions, however, particularly if you solicit ideas on a regular basis from your team. This can be part of your everyday culture, or encouraged through team sessions and even a dedicated innovation inbox.
Get your creative juices flowing at an impromptu meeting with the Quadro A Legs Counter Table.
Set up time for brainstorming and innovating
As above, setting aside a regular time for brainstorming can be an effective way to keep your company moving forward through collaboration, particularly if it includes all departments and employees of all levels. Setting up guidelines and rules can help get the most out of your team, without any bad energy creeping in.
Write up your creative ideas on the JasonL Mobile Magnetic Whiteboard.
Take advantage of tools
There are so many collaborative tools on the market that can break down the barriers that often stifle collaborative work. Examples include:
- Trello: for lists and boards
- Slack: for instant messaging
- Nifty: for managing projects
- Monday: for team projects
- Zoom: for video calls (beware of the Zoom Fail)
- Whereby: for video calls
- Otter.ai: for automated meeting notes and transcripts
Sometimes you need a physical and visual cue. The Vision Fizz Mobile Whiteboard is perfect for bringing ideas to life.
Incentivise good work
Even if your colleagues believe in the company’s mission, incentivising and rewarding shows appreciation, and encourages continued good work. Consider:
- Programs like Nectar, which provides online recognition and rewards for employees, including features like a leaderboard, shout-outs and the ability to award prizes.
- Sharing credit and avoiding an aggressively competitive environment.
- Using a whiteboard to track incentives and priorities, like the JasonL Commercial Magnetic Whiteboard or the JasonL White Magnetic Frameless Glass Whiteboard.
Monday - home page
Nectar - home page
Nifty - home page
Otter.ai - home page
What Is Collaboration and Where Does It Begin?
Seapoint Center For Collaborative Leadership
Slack - home page
Whereby - home page
Trello - home page
How to use Slack | Your quick start guide | Slack 101
Cultivating Collaboration: Don't Be So Defensive! | Jim Tamm | TEDxSantaCruz
Zoom - home page