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  • Get Your Team Working Better Together, Wherever They Are

    on 27 June 2018

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    Posted by Sam Abrahams
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    Team collaboration may be the key to your company’s success. Whether your employees need to coordination projects together all of the time or simply be on the same page while doing their work, effective collaboration is crucial. The type of business, your workers, and your workspace will all factor into the best way to facilitate teamwork, and are among the many ways to improve the odds of effective team collaboration.

    Close Enough

    There is a lot to be said for proximity when team members are trying to work together. There are a number of ways to make that happen. Depending on the office space and type of work, team members could be located in the same area or have access to conference rooms or other team spaces where they can work together as needed. If team members physically work in different buildings or cities, online workspaces can help create and preserve a team ethos. Project tracking software can keep everyone informed on the status of projects. Online messaging systems allow team members to share information and ask questions without needing to produce laborious email chains. Message boards where employees can share information on projects or ask questions are another way to facilitate information sharing.

    But Not Too Close

    Sadly, in the search for closer communication and teamwork, some companies have gone to open floorplans and shared workspaces that take closeness too far. Businesses want employees to be able to work together without noise becoming too much of a distraction. The lack of personal space and distractions from surrounding workers can reduce employee productivity. In addition, the stress of working in a poorly designed workspace can contribute to employee health issues leading to more lost time and lower productivity.

    Carefully consider how often employees would need to share information or coordinate in person. If it is a small percentage of the time, an open workspace is probably the wrong design. Even if your workers do need to coordinate much of the time, there might be better ways for them to share information than by chatting across the room. Online solutions provide plenty of opportunities to collaboration without sacrificing employee efficiency. One advantage is the reduction in workplace interruptions. Team members can check the online platform when they have a moment rather than being interrupted whenever a co-worker has a question or comment. Having the work posted on an online workspace also gives managers an easier way to keep track to see if deadlines are being met or if problems are developing with specific projects.

    Team vs Individual

    One thing that can sabotage collaboration is the feeling that the teamwork is somehow unfair. It is important that team members feel that their individual work is being appreciated and recognised. This is particularly important when individual bonuses, raises, and promotions are based on the success of team projects. Team collaboration can be jeopardised if employees feel that not everyone is contributing equally or that someone is taking a disproportionate amount of the credit for the work being completed.

    It can be a challenging balance to achieve, encouraging teamwork while recognising individuals. Clear work assignments and distribution of effort can make it easier to spot employees who aren’t doing their fair share as well as team members who are outstanding contributors. This not only makes employees feel their individual contributions are being recognised, it also makes it easier to create fairer employee performance reviews.

    At the same time as you recognise individual contributions, it is important to try to build a sense of shared responsibility for the success of team projects. Openly celebrating team project milestones and accomplishments and allowing everyone to participate in these celebrations can add to a feeling of teamwork. You might even consider giving awards or for successful team accomplishments. Creating a name for the team or project is another way to identify the team as a whole. Team names could be as informal as the “west wing team” or the “engineering team” or have more specific names, perhaps chosen by the team members themselves. A team name makes it faster to refer to the entire group, in addition to it being a teambuilding tool.

    Remember, teams are made up of individuals so avoid a one-size-fits-all mentality. Structure your teams and project assignments in a way that works best for your organisation.