Few businesses are run though a series of isolated efforts. It is collaboration, whether between individuals, teams or departments, that makes a company truly successful. However, modern technology has revolutionised the meaning of collaboration in business. It no longer means just a group of employees who sit together at a table to work on a project. Today, digitally enabled collaboration spans across an entire organisation, and can occur in any time and place with access to technology.
So how can a business use its IT resources to encourage collaboration among employees?
The role of technology in collaboration
The 2013 Connected Workplace report by Deloitte reveals that on average, full-time employees spend about four hours a week working on a project with others in their office. The use of technology means that this teamwork is not limited to the office space, but can occur around the country and internationally.
For instance, video calling services allow people to talk work together as though they were in the same room, and cloud applications allow for continuity and real-time access to information regardless of geographical location.
Interestingly, research from the McKinsey Global Institute found that collaboration through the use of social technologies could actually increase productivity by between 20 and 25 per cent. But the key to accessing the collaborative benefits lies in being able to implement IT in your operations well.
How can you use IT to boost collaboration?
The effective use of technology does not merely come down to integrating collaboration software. There are a number of important steps for harnessing IT for teamwork:
- Create an open platform for ideas and opinions – one of the biggest advantages of collaboration is that it brings out inventive new solutions. As Forbes points out, technology does not discriminate between rank and experience, so establishing an online platform where all staff can put forward ideas may help the company be more innovative.
- Provide new communication technologies – communication is perhaps the most vital aspect of collaboration, and IT allows people to talk easily to each other no matter where they are. Video calling and screen sharing are good ways to use technology to communicate.
- Encourage collaboration across locations and departments – IT can unite workers of different expertise and backgrounds to work towards the same goal. By fostering this collaboration across your company, you will be able to access greater diversity in your workforce.
Technology brings a range of capabilities to today’s business, but collaboration may be one of the best. So use it to drive the teamwork of your employees, and you may become more competitive as a result.