The Increasing Importance of Collaboration Across a Distributed Workforce
Environmental factors originally jump started the work-from-home revolution, but current research suggests the distributed workforce model is here to stay. Some estimates claim that at least 70% of employees don’t believe going into the office is necessary. Flexibility, less travel time, and reduced office costs are just a few of the perks of having a distributed workforce. However, experts in project management have been emphasizing the importance of collaboration for years, which makes it necessary to prevent employees from an isolated and individualized work schedule that can all too easily become the status quo in a distributed environment.
Having the Right Tools is the First Step
Newly remote and distributed workers are not always accustomed to collaboration in a digital setting. Often, previous avenues of collaboration included collective brainstorming during meetings, open discussion over team lunches, or reviewing project details with clients in person. When these opportunities aren’t available like they used to be, it’s easy to instead resort to limited communication via email and highly divided tasks that don’t provide opportunity for partnership.
With the right systems, employees have access to shared communication platforms with both private and public channels. Questions that once were asked over cubicle walls can now be answered via instant messaging on a professional and personalized program. Tools like Slack and Mavenlink allow employees to ask questions to big teams of people, opening up information sharing on a much larger scale. This also allows minds across the organization and perhaps across the country to problem solve collectively and brainstorm solutions to issues that come up unexpectedly. Without this kind of constant communication, distributed workforces are reduced to relying on individual ideas rather than those from a collective group, which inevitably is more creative than a singular person.
People Drive Collaboration, Not Systems
Having a culture where collaboration is not only emphasized but exemplified by managers and executives is key. While having the proper channels of communication like instant messaging and regular online meetings is essential to provide the forum for collaboration in the first place, humans are the ones who drive interactions and make them happen in the first place. The flexibility and personalization of a distributed workforce may allow many employees to individually maximize their efficiency and effectiveness, but collaboration maximizes the productivity and performance of a team and organization as a whole. Paired together, a collaborative, distributed workforce can potentially harness the benefits from both centralized and decentralized organizational systems. The examples from team leadership make all the difference in the world.
Transparency and consistent communication from managers encourage team members to extend the same in return, keeping everyone on the same page and on track for the project timeline. When all employees are on board with what collective tasks need to be accomplished, efficiency and operational productivity are at their highest because collaborative tools are being utilized properly.
Organizational Loyalty Depends on Collaboration
According to research from Queens University of Charlotte, nearly 40% of employees believe their organization doesn’t have enough collaboration, but businesses that have effective communication are four and a half times more likely to retain employees. Team members feel more connected and helpful to groups where they can clearly see how their contributions positively impact others on the team and add to the collective goal. Employee retention is not only important for team cohesiveness and continued success, but it maximizes the potential of the organization as a whole.
Find Support for Your Organization
The Mavenlink Industry Cloud for Professional Services™ is purpose-built to foster contextual collaboration, centralize communication, and magnify visibility for distributed teams. Learn more about what Mavenlink can do for your organization.