What is Collaboration?

In the professional world, collaboration is a MASSIVE deal in 2019 and one that a huge array of manufacturers are hanging their hat in terms of meeting room technology.

But what does it really mean and how do you judge what kind of technology helps you achieve this mystical power?

There’s usually a method of collaboration that can help you achieve a goal more effectively. Whether it’s working on creative projects that require dynamic input from multiple individuals, or annual reports that need to be reviewed by multiple executives, collaboration plays a central role across almost every level of a modern organisation.

More than this though, collaboration is a general attitude that exists among groups of individuals, where elements of sharing and teamwork lead to cooperation. We explore what collaboration means today and some of the ways you can go about encouraging it within your teams.

A quick definition

Collaboration can mean many different things, but a quick and simple definition is this: two or more people working towards a shared goal.

 

Why is collaboration important?

Collaboration at home or in the workplace is a sign of shared understanding. Goals, no matter how small, are more easily achieved if everyone is on the same page, working together to achieve something through cooperation and trust.

Achieving collaboration also distributes the workload more evenly, helping ensure individuals don’t find themselves taking on an uneven amount of responsibility. If an understanding can be reached about role allocation, then each party can contribute towards achieving a task without being overwhelmed by the full weight of the task.

Collaboration also helps to foster an environment of collective knowledge, where team members can more easily share their own understanding with others. In environments where complex projects are being managed, this is especially important, where the combined knowledge of a group is often more effective than the sum of its parts.

Benefits of effective collaboration:

  • Learning from others
  • Better problem solving potential
  • A glimpse of the bigger picture
  • Breaking down barriers between team members
  • More creative atmosphere
  • Better quality ideas

 

Types of collaboration

Synchronous collaboration – where individuals interact in real time through things such as meetings, phone calls, instant messaging, or remote meeting activities like video conferencing.

Asynchronous collaboration – where interaction can take place outside of any specific time period, as is the case with contributing to shared documents or communicating on intranet systems.

 

Components of collaboration

The process of collaborating is complex and requires individuals to draw on and develop their own social skills. We’ve outlined the major components of collaboration below so that you can understand what it takes for you and your team to foster collaboration.

Awareness Becoming part of a collective entity and understanding your role within the new group dynamic
Participation Interaction, whether it is verbal or via communication technology, is required with individuals as well as with the group
Mediation Negotiation between different people and ideas to reach common ground

 

Reciprocity The expectation that we receive as well as give during this process
Motivation A shared understanding of purpose and drive
Independence We take on tasks individually and are responsible for our share in achieving this goal

 

Reflection Evaluation and consideration of the actions of ourselves and others
Engagement Proactive engagement with team members to receive feedback and develop the project

 

Create the right environments

There’s a reason shared workspaces and collaborative working environments are so popular today. The intention to foster collaboration is all well and good, but without the right set up in place, it can be difficult to work towards different projects collectively if you’re not in the right environment.

When we talk about ‘environments’, we also mean the non-physical spaces that exist in any given organisation. Internal content management systems, intranets, and social software are all important for giving individuals the right digital environment to be collaborative.

More than this, collaboration is what happens between people, so a large part of creating the right environment is encouraging people to have a certain mental attitude – one that is conducive to cooperation and shared activities and aimed at achieving certain goals. This can be encouraged with simple things like discussions and feedback sessions or non-pressured brainstorming activities.

Diverging from company structures or hierarchy is another great way to create a collaborative environment. In the end, titles or job roles that are too strict can place barriers on your team’s ability to think outside the box and find the best solutions for any given challenge.

 

Invest in the right equipment

Finally, consider the physical elements you need to foster a collaborative environment. Having the right tools on hand can be fundamental to collaborating effectively. Software has come a long way in providing platforms that everyone can use to collaborate. In fact, we’ve reached a point where many employees expect to be able to collaborate on a document or piece of work as standard.

Having said this, physical hardware and meeting room technology plays an equally important role when it comes to fostering collaboration. Tablets, touchscreens, projectors, display screens, video conference technology and more can all support the process of collaboration.

For more on specific collaboration technology, stay tuned to our blog for tips and insights the best collaborative technology for your workplace.

At Displaypoint, we’re advocates of going beyond the predictable and we encourage any organisation to think about the role display technology can play, coupled with effective sharing tools and of course mindset in boosting company-wide collaboration.

 

 

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