Definition and Benefits of Collaboration at Work
What is collaboration?
Essentially, collaboration is when two or more people (often groups) work together through idea sharing and thinking to accomplish a common goal. While teamwork is usually putting two or more people in a physical location for them to be able to work. Collaboration takes it to the next level and can use technology, various skills, knowledge, people, devices and platforms to work together. In fact, teamwork is simply one of the aspects of collaboration.
4 elements that makes up collaboration
True collaboration has the following elements:
- Good teamwork. Being able to work in close contact or even constant communication (for remote workers) is important for collaboration.
- Thinking and brainstorming ideas to provide solutions. This key element brings groups together to offer different perspectives and expertise to solve for common problems. The phrase “putting our heads together” would be a good example of this important element of collaboration.
- A strong sense of purpose. Groups and individuals who truly collaborate see the value in working together. Collaboration is not forced upon someone. There should be a meaningful reason for working together, and it should benefit both parties and the company as a whole.
- Equal participation. A collaborative manager or leader may often say, ‘leave your titles at the door.’ Treating everyone as equals when collaborating can open up communication and encourage ideas from all levels of the company or department, not just the managers or directors.
Why should you push for more collaboration in your office?
According to experts, here are the most obvious and powerful benefits of collaborating:
- More skills and strengths available to tap. When you have more people working together freely with a supportive culture, you may find that you can learn more from your colleagues and that everyone has access to the skills each team member has available. You can work on your weaknesses together to fill in the gaps that you have.
- Develop employee Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSA). When you have people collaborating, it’s inevitable that they’re going to pick up habits, change some parts of their personalities and learn more through their work. This is why you can expect everyone’s knowledge, skills and attitudes to level up during the team effort.
- Analyze critically, solve problems and develop plans faster. When you have a team of people working together with the best of their individual abilities, you can see that the presence of sounding boards and people to discuss with can develop solutions and innovations faster.
- Increase productivity and efficiency. With more people working on more aspects of a project with aligned goals and skills, you can see that tasks get completed faster. Other highly productive teams are able to anticipate each other’s needs and prevent mistakes from lessons previously learned.
- Increased employee engagement. When you have a collaborative, supportive company culture, you’ll see that your bottom line is affected thanks to increased employee engagement. This means that you have lesser turnover costs and increased employee retention and mindshare. This means that your workers are less likely to leave the company and you get to retain the knowledge and skills that experience at your firm has developed in most of your workers.
Essentially, collaboration requires a team of people to share KSA and develop solutions to problems with passion, innovation and efficiency. Smaller teams may be better at collaborating because they can work closely together and develop a team culture faster than bigger groups.