Tuesday, 22nd September 2020

Three reasons knowledge workers need to consider opening the door to collaborative workspaces

By Jocelyn Lomer, Chief Executive of nuVa Enterprises.

According to a study conducted by Salesforce, 86% of executives and employees believe that the lack of collaboration or ineffective communication is one of the biggest workplace failures. Collaboration is a serious challenge for businesses and it’s often difficult to get team members to communicate both within departments and between individual employees. As companies expand to multiple locations or introduce remote working, the scope of these challenges will only continue to grow and become more problematic.

Collaboration is an overused word - as people, what are we actually doing when we collaborate? Dictionary definitions state that it’s working on an idea rather than just exchanging information. When people collaborate, we actually join thoughts and ideas together, combining these individual minds to deliver innovative solutions. Ultimately, collaboration makes us cleverer and of course when we can collaborate remotely, we are more able to access remote knowledge from afar.

With remote collaboration, there are some issues caused by the interface that often has the effect of dumbing down communications to the lowest common denominator. This reduces ‘collaborative or cognitive bandwidth’, leading to businesses suffering from low team efficiency, poor performance and reduced productivity. This is especially prevalent for those with knowledge workers, such as architects, designers or programmers, as current video conferencing and desktop technologies are often equipped with inadequate spaces to work on highly complex tasks. In most cases, the best way to overcome this problem and improve collaboration is by creating an environment that emulates face-to-face, natural meetings, just as though we were sitting around a table with people and things. Not only does this environment improve team alignment and strengthen productivity, but it also allows knowledge workers to collaborate with those working across international borders.

Better team alignment

With 97% of employees stating that a lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task, a collaborative working environment is now more important than ever. The ideal vision of a team looks like cogs in a machine, working closely together. However, without effective communication and transparency, this is not possible. By opening the door to natural collaborative meetings, knowledge workers are brought together to understand the project objectives, their role and how everyone will contribute to achieve results. Coordinating these goals leads to team-wide support, increased productivity and greater innovation for true alignment.

Combining people’s interaction and thinking with a virtual space to work, not only boosts productivity, but aids knowledge sharing and problem solving. By making collaboration a priority, knowledge workers will be able to call on their colleagues for help and will have a better understanding of the processes and methods to streamline remedies. They also have the opportunity to brainstorm together and utilise each other’s capabilities to find a solution to the problem. What's more, these richer meeting environments allow for cross-team collaboration, bringing people together from various departments to combine their knowledge, experience and expertise. This is a no-brainer for knowledge workers, who are working on highly complex tasks across different team functions. After all, uniting experts from various teams and departments will lead to deeper insights, fresher perspectives and faster innovation.

Improved business flexibility

Similar to team alignment, flexibility is a natural result of a collaborative workspace. If a team understands its end goal, it can prepare for any situation that arises. For knowledge workers, change is sure to happen and forecasting that change can often be predictable for a prepared team. When using a workspace that emulates face-to-face, natural meetings, the team will benefit from increased flexibility which makes it easier for them to adapt in both the short and long term. They will start embracing change rather than fearing it and together can learn to turn these challenges into an opportunity.

For example, businesses have had to change at a pretty rapid pace in the wake of COVID-19 to survive this period of uncertainty. Gone are the days of in-person interaction and collaboration, meaning many are left grappling with best practices to foster team dynamics, bolster morale and keep productivity alive. Working remotely under these circumstances means knowledge workers have to adapt to the current environment, battling a new set of distractions as well as experiencing an unprecedented merge of work and private life. In order to continue working efficiently and creating value under these difficult times, businesses need to understand, accept and support specific situations and needs. Frequently knowledge workers have no choice but to use tools that don’t have the ability to manage their highly complex tasks, with inefficient processes and inadequate spaces to work effectively. A working environment that combines people’s interaction and thinking with a virtual space to work, will help combat this and unify the entire team across priorities, enabling them to successfully work remotely.

Creating a global village

Innovation is the life blood of any business and is delivered by successful collaborating teams. However, this requires trust which can become increasingly difficult to build when a business has these different teams based in multiple locations across the globe. Accompanied with different time zones, cultural differences and language barriers, there is a much larger problem. Most people want to work well together, but sometimes the distance makes it harder than first expected. By implementing these richer virtual meetings, businesses have the opportunity to create a ‘global village’ for knowledge workers to collaborate across international borders in the best possible way. They go one further than simply sharing a screen and hearing voices of colleagues, which is especially important during these unprecedented times and beyond.

It’s no longer acceptable for knowledge workers to rely on traditional meeting room technologies. The constraints of technology need to overcome the challenges of today’s global workforce to drive maximum productivity. Using a workspace that emulates a face-to-face, natural meeting, will allow everyone across all locations to be on screen and involved. This will improve efficiency, increase the speed of global decision making and allow for knowledge sharing without any constraints.

Why collaboration matters

By opening the door to collaborative workspaces, knowledge workers will experience benefits from increased team alignment, better productivity and improved innovation, delivering better efficiency and quicker decision making. The richer way of collaborating also creates a more organised working environment, smoothing the flow of communication and sharing knowledge amongst different teams and across international borders. This is especially important during these unprecedented times, when most knowledge workers are working remotely and would benefit from a workspace that emulates a natural meeting to remain productive when completing highly complex tasks. For those businesses embracing these workspaces for true collaboration, innovation and increased productivity is just a meeting away.

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