The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that we work. Almost overnight, traditionally office-based employees were forced to work from home to contain the virus.
Around half of British staff (49%) worked at least one day from home in June 2020 and 38% were exclusively home-based, according to the UK government. That trend has continued, with many businesses switching to a hybrid or fully remote model, with 72% of those surveyed by the communication channel Slack saying they want a hybrid-remote office model moving forward as they demand greater flexibility and work-life balance.
The upshot? Because employees were no longer physically working alongside each other in a team, with less opportunity to connect and interact, collaboration declined.
The statistics are telling. According to workspace provider WeWork, employees’ ability to meet and brainstorm has dropped by an average of 11%, while their ability to maintain social relationships has fallen 17%.
Lack of Team Players
The other major problem is that, even if everyone is working together in the same place, there are always going to be individuals that aren’t team players. Often they lack the necessary social skills to engage with their colleagues, are unhelpfully disruptive or simply want to take all the credit for the work themselves.
This issue has been exacerbated by the move to hybrid or remote working, with staff getting used to operating on their own rather than in a unit. And as new employees join the business, so that becomes the culture and way of work they have become accustomed to.
As workers become more distant, they are less likely to want to engage with colleagues. Often this means that they take autonomy for their own decisions without consulting anyone, making the chances of something going wrong much greater because there’s no-one holding them to account.
The Need For Teamwork
Teamwork is key to any successful enterprise. Therefore, it’s vital that companies encourage collaboration among and between their teams to ensure the best results, not only in terms of productivity, efficiency and financially, but also for individuals’ well-being.
Deeper than that, though, collaboration enables better problem-solving and alignment of ideas between team members. It also allows for greater engagement and adaptability from workers.
Because everyone has a different skillset and perspective to offer, by working together, teams can generate and bounce ideas off each other, and come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. They can also lean on others’ expertise to complete tasks that they may not necessarily be able to accomplish on their own.
Now that there is a concerted drive from employers to get staff back in the office, it’s a prime opportunity for firms to rebuild teamwork. To achieve this, they need to create a space where everyone can collaborate effectively together, redefine their roles and start rebuilding trust between team members, as well as ensure that a strong diversity and inclusion strategy is maintained at all times.
Firstly, companies need to provide employees with an environment that is conducive to producing the best work. Therefore, they must think about the best design and layout of the workspace to ensure that staff interact effectively with each other.
Then they need to foster a collaborative culture that workers are going to buy into. To do so, they must establish an ethos that is inclusive, consistent and implemented into all of their practices and processes.
Role of Technology
While working as a team in the same place is the best way to encourage collaboration, where some individuals have to work remotely, technology can be used as an enabler. Used effectively, it can ensure that everyone is kept in the loop and updated on projects that are being worked on through the use of communication tools such as Teams, Slack and Trello, to name a few.
Technology can also streamline workflows to make sure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Additionally, it can enable file-sharing so that teammates can work on the same project at the same time.
To ensure that collaboration is working effectively, companies need to measure it in terms of team output. They must look at how effectively, efficiently and quickly tasks are being completed.
Another key indicator of its success is employee satisfaction, which can be monitored through engagement surveys, as well as tangible results. A highly motivated team is likely to feel more valued, and therefore, be happier and more productive.
Wayne Pope, Founder and CTO of award-winning Glasscubes, which specialises in enabling companies to collaborate with people inside or outside their organisation, using a rich set of tools from client portals, online workspaces, intranets and information gathering. Glasscubes helps well over 50,000 users in more than 100 countries to maximise their workforce’s potential through an online secure system.