The way people get work done is changing both on an individual level and in the way they collaborate as a team. Fortunately, most of the change is in a positive direction! A direction that benefits both the employer and the employee. We are able to make work more fulfilling and enjoyable than ever before, while improving overall team effectiveness!

How collaboration in the workplace is changing

Traditionally managers at the top of the organization had access to all the information required to make decisions, and they would share information with their employees only if and when those employees needed it for their jobs. Today, organizations are practicing an increased level of transparency with their employees. They are sharing information that may not be immediately or in an obvious way required by those employees, in the belief that greater sharing and openness has significant benefits.

Employees can act more autonomously when they have a broader understanding of company goals, plans, and status. They can make better-informed decisions when necessary. And trusting your employees allows them to be and to feel more involved. It encourages them to care more about achieving the team’s goals, and hence increases their productivity and fulfillment.

Likewise, sharing is a key quality of modern employees. Traditionally employees wanted to keep ideas to themselves in order to get credit for their own contributions. But nowadays it is easy to track ideas back to individuals, so sharing not only benefits the team as a whole but also the employee. Managers and colleagues appreciate and recognize employees who share and help others.

This new trend of increased transparency and increased collaboration between team members is allowing businesses to move faster towards their goals. For the first time in the history of business, “leader” and “manager” are not the same thing. Employees can be leaders without being managers, as long as they are passionate, knowledgeable, and love to share. For businesses, this means they are involving all the talent they have available to make better decisions and act more creatively and effectively.

As team members are becoming more autonomous and trust is being built between managers and their employees, remote work is spreading. Managers think of remote work as a way to run their business smarter and better. Remote work impacts employee wellness, especially in areas with long commutes. By eliminating office interruptions, it can also improve productivity when intense concentration is required. Many businesses also use remote work to save on real estate overhead costs. When executed well, remote working does not compromise the level of transparency and collaboration between team members.

How we encourage a culture of sharing

A culture of open sharing and transparent collaboration doesn’t just happen. It requires effort from the leaders and individuals in the team. Building the right culture is an intricate skill that can’t be summarised in a few paragraphs, but I’m going to list the top things we do at Sandglaz that we find absolutely necessary.

1. Hire the right people

Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way

—Ronald Reagan

Look for people who want to help and share and be part of a team.

Honesty is probably the most important quality in an employee, above smarts and experience. People who hide or misrepresent information are the hardest to work with. And hiring the wrong person will not only hinder collaboration with that person, but it will negatively affect the dynamics of the entire team.

You are also looking of people who want to work autonomously, take ownership, make decisions and contribute to reaching the company goals.

2. Reflect, together.

We do monthly team effectiveness meetings that are lead by a different team member each month. The purpose of the meeting is to talk about what has been working well, and what hasn’t. We then make a list of what we should stop doing, continue doing and start doing.

This way not only is working towards your business goals is a team effort, but also maintaining a healthy collaborative team culture is a team effort.

3. Use the right collaborative project management application

It’s no surprise to anyone that we use Sandglaz. We built it for collaborative teams; with the mindset that everyone in a team should have easy access to information and be able to contribute to any task.

With Sandglaz, collaborators discuss tasks right from the context of those tasks, along with all notes and attachments. This ensures all information is gathered up in one place and doesn’t get lost in email threads. It also makes it easy to track back ideas and feedback to individuals which further encourages the culture of sharing.

Moreover, Sandglaz’s visual plans makes it easy for everyone to view project status, what their team members did and what they are working on. And for those agile team who often embrace change, changing project plans are fast and transparent. This keeps project status and priorities clear and up-to date, saving you all time on status updates and meetings.

In addition to the benefits above, the improved level of communication greatly facilitates remote work. Remote workers will be connected and feel as part of the team in spite of the physical distance.

I'm done searching for a collaborative application to remotely work with my team, Sandglaz is what I've been looking for. It helps me follow up what my team is doing on a weekly basis. We absolutely love Sandglaz.

—Yoan Anguilet MBA, Yale School of Management

4. Affirm the purpose.

Let your team know how what they are doing contributes to organizational success. There are two ways to do so, and you need to do both:

  • Talk about it.
  • Ensure that their responsibilities are measurable and holistic.

There is a huge difference between an individual who works to please their manager, and those who work to achieve company goals. You want to make sure everyone on your team is the latter. The former will remove the much desired autonomy.

How is the collaboration culture at your workplace? Do your team members readily help one another? Please share with us in the comments below.