Art of Collaboration

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February 24, 2015

Creating Your Enterprise Collaboration Strategy

Before the telephone, if you wanted to talk to someone, you had to be in the same room with them. But by 1880—just two years after the first telephone line was constructed—nearly 50,000 telephones were in use. By 1900, that number grew to 600,000 phones. It was a boon for businesses. A practical, cost-effective method of communication that some say paved the way for skyscrapers.
Fast forward to 2015, and the phone is just one of many tools that allow people to communicate regardless of the distance between them. Email, instant messaging, mobile texting, web conferencing, collaboration software—these are just a few of the tools that are readily and often freely available.
But sometimes, these tools can get in the way of their own intended purpose, especially in the workplace where employees must grapple with the proper application and varying forms of etiquette for each tool. Is it okay to send your co-worker a text message at 11:30 p.m. to inform them of a meeting change? Are other co-workers uncomfortable with video calls on Skype? Given all the open lines of siloed communications, is real work getting accomplished? Is it aligned with the original objectives? Can these messages be easily found when needed later? Are off-site employees truly in tune with on-site teams? Are globally-dispersed organizations truly moving as one?
While the age of consumerized IT continues to drive the adoption of many great, productivity-enhancing consumer technologies by workers in the enterprise, management of these tools needs to come from above. And the need isn’t merely a technical one. There must also be strategic guidelines or policies put in place that assist employees with acquiring the mindset needed to use these tools effectively.
Among the things to consider when creating an enterprise collaboration strategy for your organization, fostering a collaborative workplace environment is key. This means ensuring everyone—from mobile teams and freelancers to even partners and customers—is participating. One of the biggest barriers to enterprise collaboration is team members are typically loathe to share knowledge and workloads. But by modeling ideal collaborative behavior at the C-level, working with HR to create best practices, prioritizing cooperativeness in the hiring process, creating clearly-defined roles, and much more, a truly collaborative environment can begin to take hold.
Additionally, it’s important to make clear decisions on which tools will be used in the workplace and how. While BYOD culture does much to empower people, it can have quite the opposite effect on teams as they struggle to integrate varying communication preferences into existing workflows. Therefore it is critical that the usage, cost and gain (i.e., productivity, travel savings, etc.) of each tool is assessed and cemented as part of corporate policy to deliver uniformity in the way all workers connect and share knowledge, whether it’s in real time or archived. Equally important is identifying and defining tool usage for each of the organization’s collaborative touch points, whether it’s virtual employee to on-site employee or virtual employee to customer.
Have you created an enterprise collaboration strategy for your organization? What other points must be considered? Comment below or join our community discussions on Facebook or Twitter.

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