If you ask business leaders from any industry about the secret of their success, the chances are that collaboration will be one of the most popular answers. Many people consider collaboration an indicator of success, and the reason is that a lack of collaboration can easily ruin your project. According to research, 86% of corporate executives, educators, and employees consider ineffective communication and the lack of collaboration the most common reasons for workplace failures.
First, let’s define what workplace collaboration is. Collaboration means that different individuals unite their efforts to solve the same problem. Since all these individuals have different ideas, expertise, and skills, they can come up with efficient solutions, which makes collaboration in the workplace so effective. There are many forms of collaboration, and it can happen in both traditional and virtual teams. Thanks to many technological advancements, including cloud-based software, any employer can create a collaborative environment even for remote teams.
Nevertheless, encouraging collaboration requires companies to adapt their performance management systems, which may be a challenging task. Therefore, an important question is, how to understand whether collaboration is actually beneficial for your business, and how to measure its return on investment?
How Workplace Collaboration Can Change Your Company
Many people think that the positive impact of collaboration on business is rather obvious. However, research data supports this idea with facts. According to a recent study, when employees work in a collaborative environment, they demonstrate a five times better performance. Previously, researchers from Stanford also found out that working with others makes employees more motivated, productive, and determined. Even employees that technically work alone get much more motivated when they feel involved in a collaborative process.
Collaboration offers countless benefits for any organization, that’s why more and more businesses make cultivating collaboration one of their main priorities. Here are a few main trends in this area.
Simple File Sharing and Communication
Sending the necessary documents via email is a time-consuming process that becomes absolutely frustrating when these files require editing. Files with the same names are sent back and forth so everybody gets dozens of different copies, and if someone uses the wrong copy, it may be a big problem. This is a reason why modern companies switch to cloud software with automatic synchronization. Thanks to these solutions, many people can work with the same relevant version of a document, with no need to send numerous attachments. Similarly, collaboration and messaging apps like Slack or Realtime Board allow for simple and fast communication between employees, no matter where they are.
Another trend in a collaborative workplace is the spatial design which leads to unplanned interactions between employees. So-called “overlap zones” are zones where people from different teams can accidentally run into each other, having conversations that spark collaboration and boost creativity. For instance, such an approach was used in Pixar’s headquarters. Another approach is to build long desks, like the “superdesk” built for Barbarian Group’s headquarters.
Quite often, a big part of the office workspace remains underutilized. According to research, office utilization usually doesn’t exceed 42% on any given day. Hot desking addresses this problem while also helping with another issue: employees don’t need to sit at their desk for eight hours a day. Instead of assigning seats, you can allow your employees to rotate through an open space, encouraging collaboration.
Key Principles of Measuring ROI for Workplace Collaboration
1. Launch of New Products
How much time does your company need to launch a new product? When marketers, engineers, a legal department, and other teams work on a project, it may take too long. For example, in the communications industry, the average time to launch a new product is six months, which is much longer than managers would like it to take. We recommend that you calculate this time for your current product development cycle, and compare it to the launch time after moving to a collaboration platform.
2. Speed of the Existing Processes
There are many processes that consist of multiple steps and involve many people. Quite often, such processes take too long. A good way to evaluate a collaborative system is to determine whether it can speed up at least some of these slow and complex processes. Measure the time a certain process usually takes to complete, and then move it to a collaboration platform. Don’t forget to mention that you want to reduce the time spent.
3. Real Estate Costs
Collaboration can help you reduce real estate costs associated with opening remote offices in another city or even another country. You can also reduce the space occupied by employees if you move some of them offsite, while also ensuring effective collaboration online. Such a process may take some time but you can analyze utility bills, costs of office supplies, and other metrics to see whether you’re moving in the right direction.
4. The Volume of New Products
The main purpose of the collaboration is to boost creativity and productivity. Thus, it’s impossible to objectively measure the effectiveness of collaboration if you don’t compare the actual volumes of products launched per year.
5. Training and Turnover Costs
Companies have to spend about eight weeks to prepare new employees for clerical positions, and up to 26 weeks when dealing with executives. Since collaboration implies sharing experience and knowledge, you can expect the onboarding process to take less time and so to be less costly. The same goes for the training process and turnover rates. Such metrics will help you understand whether your company adopts the collaborative approach successfully.
Many progressive companies realize the value and importance of collaboration, encouraging it not only within traditional teams but also within remote and virtual teams, as well. Collaboration boosts productivity and motivation, however, it also requires you to create the right environment in the workplace. Create overlap zones in the office so that employees from different teams and departments can interact with each other. Invest in fast communication to cultivate collaboration among remote employees. The effectiveness of collaboration is easy to measure, as you will see a decrease in expenses while also having an increase in productivity and speed of the existing processes.
Ester Brierley is a content creator for College Writers who balances freelancing and her full-time job as a QA Engineer.