Why Collaboration is Essential in Business While Working Remotely
The number of remote workers was already on a significant upward trajectory before COVID-19. Businesses that believed remote workers are less productive, work fewer hours, and assume less responsibility and ownership than workers who work from a physical office location five days a week found that their premises were ill-founded. Forbes indicates that remote work is “no longer a privilege,” while Fast Company describes it as “the new normal.”
Work from Home Is the New Normal—Beyond the Pandemic
Prior to COVID-19, a research study showed that remote workers were working an average of 1.4 more days each month—of 16.8 days annually—than their in-office counterparts. But it is more than just time worked; remote workers were found to have only 27 minutes of unproductive time per day versus 37 minutes for in-office workers. They also tailor their workday to their schedules, have less stress than in-office workers, and are happier in their roles. The environmental impact—not to mention work-life balance improvements—are dramatic for the remote workforce. A study by Airtasker found that the average remote worker saves an annual average of $4,523 on fuel, or 17 days, on commuting from their home to an office. The same study also discovered that remote employees exercise 25 more minutes each week than office workers.
Businesses realize the fears propagated by some before the COVID-19 pandemic that remote workers are unproductive and slackers simply are not true. They also like the financial implications of downsizing their real estate investments; no longer do they need to have a permanent workspace for every employee. From the perspective of workers, the reality is that the majority are reluctant to return to their permanent office workspaces. Plus, even after a vaccine is available and the fears of potential infection dissipate, many workers say they do not want to return to commuting five days a week to a permanent office location and working a rigid 9-to-5 work schedule. The workplace genie seems to be out of the bottle, and regardless of how many “Marisa Meyer’s try to stuff it back into the bottle,” it simply will not return to its former state.
Reasons Why Collaboration Is Essential to Business
For the more than half of the workforce that now finds itself working from home due to COVID-19, learning how to collaborate remotely has been an experience equivalent to jumping into the deep end of the pool for many. Subscriptions to virtual conferencing solutions like Zoom skyrocketed. Use of instant messaging platforms and project management tools followed similar trajectories. And while some businesses are talking about reopening their offices, most have not done so.
Collaboration is seen as a crucial activity when it comes to the productivity of workers; something true of those in both remote and in-office environments. Collaboration happens in all types of settings—project teams, one-off worker-to-worker interactions, among others. The goal of collaboration is to maximize the success of a business. Each member of a team serves as a resource to other team members that enables better and smarter decisions. These also create better performance and productivity.
There are a number of reasons why collaboration is essential to business:
Promotes Problem Solving.Collaborative problem solving occurs when individuals and teams collaborate with each other to exchange information, ideas, and perspectives. Alexander Hancock lists three attitudes that are critical to collaborative problem solving: a) win-win abundance thinking (solutions that benefit all parties involved), b) patience in working out resolutions, and c) “yes and” thinking that moves away from polarized either/or thinking to one focused on ideas. To ensure issues are examined from multiple angles, organizations need to ensure professionals with different skillsets are included on project teams.
Spurs Innovation.When team members are comprised of individuals from multiple areas of the business, outcomes will become more innovative and the impact may extend further than originally imagined. As team members are pushed to think beyond their own boxes and entertain a more diverse set of ideas, a continuous cycle of ideation occurs.
Connects Teams.Even for small businesses, decisions can be made in silos. Collaboration between different teams can break down the walls of communication and ideation. This also enables different team members to feel a broader sense of purpose and breaks down mindsets of fear and scarcity, including lack of resources and time.
Boosts Learning.With different professionals bringing different skillsets and backgrounds to collaborative experiences, learning and skills-sharing is boosted. Learning and development should not be confined to the classroom, but rather it should be extended to collaborative interactions with colleagues. They can learn from each other’s mistakes, successes, failures, best practices, and more.
Increases Morale and Engagement.Collaboration facilitates trust and enables different teams and team members to feel valued and heard. Employees who believe they are empowered to execute on their ideas are more engaged, have higher performance, and exhibit better retention rates. And having satisfied employees enables organizations to recruit top talent faster and easier.
Retains Top Talent.The importance of retaining top talent has become an increasingly important focus area for many organizations. Losing top talent can be a brain drain for many organizations. Add the cost and time expenditure involved in replacing employees who leave an organization, and this can be a serious problem for many organizations. Collaborative work environments increase employee engagement, which directly influences retention of those employees
Facilitates Efficiencies.While meeting overkill is a problem many organizations need to watch (a problem that has been cited during COVID-19 by professionals as a potential issue), collaboration improves worker productivity. Collaboration enables teams and individuals to divide up a heavy workload, find creative solutions to difficult problems, and gain a greater understanding of the broader picture.
Aligns Distributed and Remote Teams.As noted, collaboration between individuals and teams is even more important while the majority work from home. Virtual collaboration—from audio and video conferencing to project management—bridges the distance for remote employees. And as loneliness and isolation can be problems with which remote employees struggle, collaboration can help minimize their occurrence.
Collaborating for the Future—Beyond the Pandemic
As organizations emerge from the pandemic and investigate alternative workspace and workplace options, coworking space, rented meeting rooms, and day offices such as Davinci Meeting Rooms are certain to play a pivotal role. These provide businesses with the opportunity to bring teams together for one-off brainstorming sessions, project collaborations, and more. They also offer a safe environment for partner and customer meetings that require face-to-face collaboration.
As time is perhaps the biggest constraint for small businesses, moving administrative tasks such as answering incoming phone calls, emails, and texts to virtual receptionists like Davinci Live Receptionists will enable them to focus on ways to drive collaboration across their teams.