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PHOTO: Aubrey Rose Odom

Team collaboration is one of the centerpieces of modern work, and as such, companies search for ways to boost it and improve team productivity with the help of technology.

According to Nemertes Research, almost half of companies use team collaboration apps. Others choose full-fledged collaboration platforms for team collaboration, such as SharePoint or its alternatives, as they offer advanced capabilities for communication, document and project management. However, technology alone is not enough to get highly collaborative teams. Businesses should start with a clearly defined collaboration strategy.

Below are some proven techniques, at both the organizational and technology levels, that can help boost team collaboration.

Collaboration Strategy Best Practices

Measures a companies can take at the organizational level include:

  • Create a supportive collaboration environment: Collaboration should be nurtured as one of the principal company values. Department managers and top executives should promote collaboration culture at the department and company levels.
  • Eliminate collaboration barriers: Open communication is the key to effective team collaboration. Team members should be able to freely speak to anyone they need to accomplish their tasks, including C-level executives. They should also be encouraged to give feedback on the working process and share their ideas on how to fulfill tasks more efficiently, which will in turn support innovation.
  • Avoid micromanagement. The corporate culture and established working processes should help eliminate the practice of micromanaging employees. Giving employees more autonomy in performing tasks and collaborating on projects helps drive organization-wide innovation and facilitates decision-making.
  • Reward teams for effective collaboration. Reward teams for achieving preset goals, for example, reaching a certain amount of sales by the end of the month. Such teams can get salary bonuses or non-monetary rewards such as extra days off. 

Related Article: Establish a Strong Collaboration Strategy to Handle Changing Workplace Demands

Collaboration Technology Best Practices

At the technological level, best practices include: 

  • Use cloud-based collaboration software. Cloud software allows remote team members to connect and access work-related data from any location, device, at any time. Such software provides more engaged and effective communication as well as enables real-time collaboration on documents, which accelerates decision-making and helps avoid project delays.
  • Create a separate team collaboration space. This area can be organized, for example, as an intranet’s team site that only members of the team can access. All information related to the team’s activities and projects is kept in one place, and it’s easily accessible and searchable by the team. Also, the team site offers an online calendar that displays who is available, busy, on vacation or on a sick leave. Embedding such tools as chats, blogs, discussion boards and wikis into the team’s digital workplace helps to further streamline communication. These tools also allow team members to share their knowledge and work experience with colleagues.
  • Use task and project management tools. These tools allow teams to easily track projects, set up workflows, share files, follow conversations, leave comments on tasks and more. They create transparency into each team member’s role and working activities, progress and completed tasks, which contributes to better collaboration.
  • Integrate collaboration tools with other business applications. Integration of business applications helps to avoid information silos, provides continuity of business processes and increases productivity. For example, integration of a document management system with CRM allows seeing a contract in both systems without file duplication. This helps keep team members working in different apps on the same page, as changes done to a document in one system will be automatically applied in another one.
  • Leverage social and gamification features. Social features of collaboration software allow employees to communicate informally and interact with colleagues in other departments, which can help keep employees engaged. Using gamification features like badges and leaderboards provides employee recognition and creates a sense of competitiveness between different teams, which increases employee motivation and loyalty to their team.

Related Article: Are Collaboration and Productivity at Odds in the Workplace?

How to Get a Highly Collaborative Team

A robust digital tool on its own can’t make a team collaborate effectively if collaboration is not supported at the company level or team members feel no motivation to collaborate. Highly collaborative teams result when companies consider strategic and technologic aspects together.