Collaboration: The Key to True Productivity Maximization
In a world with limited resources, productivity is critical. You have to ensure that your employees and teams work at an optimum level to build software, maintain digital environments, and produce outputs that delight your customers and drive your company forward.
How to achieve optimum productivity is remarkably difficult to solve a puzzle. A 2017 study by the Brookings Institution found that over the past few years, productivity in Asia has been slowing and even declining in some countries. The study cites limited resources as the primary cause. Especially in developed economies, maximising productivity on limited resources demands a well-thought-out strategy.
That strategy must include initiatives to foster collaboration. Implemented correctly, collaboration is key to genuinely maximising your productivity. Read on to learn about the link between both concepts, and how you can implement collaborative approaches designed to improve efficiency.
Maximising Productivity in a Resource-Limited Environment
If you cannot add hours to the workday, you have to spend your hours more effectively. Especially in the IT department, that’s a standard solution to a never-ending problem. As companies increasingly lean on digital transformation, the technology departments take an ever-more central role. Unfortunately, that role doesn’t usually come with budget increases.
The alternative: increase your productivity on a per-employee, per-workstation, and per-dollar basis. That’s easier said than done, but far from impossible. It just requires some innovative approaches to the regular workday. Collaboration is a vital component of that process.
How Collaboration Can Transform Your Productivity Efforts
In the modern organisation, nothing happens in isolation. Gone are the days of a tech expert sitting down at a computer and not talking to anyone for 15 hours until their work, code, or task is finished. In the age of agile, where short sprints dominate the conversation, teamwork is not just desired but essential.
That teamwork, of course, is impossible without the environment to allow your teams to collaborate. That, in turn, is a tight balance to walk. Constant talking in lieu of actual work kills productivity. The right type of collaboration, on the other hand, improves workplace productivity by up to 30 per cent.
At the same time, not all collaboration is created equal. Simply communicating more, whether it be in holding more meetings or sending more emails, is not always the right choice. Instead, consider leveraging more innovative ways for your teams to work together in a way that maximises their efficiency and effectiveness.
4 Approaches to Collaboration that Maximise Organisational Success
No one way is better than everything else. Instead, you have to find out exactly what works for your teams based on your workplace culture, environment, and existing attempts at working together. Nonetheless, moving into 2019, you should at least consider one or more of these four approaches to collaboration that are designed to improve productivity.
1) Optimise Your Communication Technology
It seems so simple. However, in an age of increasingly dispersed workforces, communication has somehow taken a backseat. When even two developers next to each other struggle to coordinate, how could someone in a different country do a better job?
Fortunately, a variety of tools have entered the market in recent years that make communication across physical boundaries much easier. You might already know Slack, used by 8 million global users for its business messaging capabilities. Instead of merely using it as an email replacement, consider building different channels for individual projects, using polls as a decision aid, and integrating it with your project management system.
It doesn’t have to stop there. In one McKinsey case study, a business significantly improved collaboration by implementing a number of digital communications tools:
An internal social networking site designed to enhance the visibility of more than 20,000 global employees across departments.
- A startup kit for remote teams that outlined essential roles, responsibilities, and communication abilities.
- A blog and other idea-sharing tools designed to help technology teams think outside the box and share with their co-workers at scale.
- A digital product specification process that could be shared easily across teams and departments.
2) Encourage Open but Structured Communication
With the necessary communication tools in place, it’s time to leverage them to their fullest abilities. Open communication across teams is key to their success; still, it has to be structured enough not to derail easily.
Tools like Slack make that process easy. You can dedicate channels specifically to ideation, competitive research, inspiration on and off-topic for your company, and more. Executed correctly, these channels become powerful pools of ideas that drive innovation and keep motivation high.
In this strategy, the structure has to come first. In other words, you have to create the right environment for your team to collaborate. Focus on two to three platforms at most, such as Slack, Asana, and Email (or any other combination). Then, build out guidelines for which channels are best for which type of communication.
Now, you can open it up. Bring your teams into the newly created system, designed to help them collaborate digitally.
3) Optimise Your Task Management Capabilities
Digital communication tools used correctly, allow your teams to communicate quickly and without wasting much time. If they stay on topic, all the better. Still, they have to get actual work done. Do you have the technical capabilities to help them work on tasks together?
On its most basic level, that means task and project management software like Asana or Basecamp. Allow your teams to work together in projects, with automated flows that move work and responsibility from one channel to the next. Most IT teams are already familiar with these types of processes.
Even if you are, though, they can and should be optimised. Too often, task management software turns into an extra burden that, due to its updating responsibilities, actually takes away from the work that needs to be done. Implement clear policies, and minimise legacy processes that can be replaced by digital alternatives, to prevent that danger in your organisation and team. Consider:
- Building project calendars and master tasks that allow the entire team to see the larger picture.
- Integrating your task management system with your communication software, such as Slack.
- Use more than just list overviews, such as Asana’s Kanban board for more visual task management.
- Cross-index tasks that relate to multiple projects to avoid duplication.
4) Align Your Team’s Interests
Why do your teams do what they do? Especially in a technology environment, you will have both highly motivated younger employees and older, more experienced experts that “go with the flow”. All of them, though, will likely share a desire to improve their work. You have to get it out of them.
The way to accomplish that is through a technique that works in both technology and non-technology environments: allow your teams to share and build their work based on common interests. Allow for outlets of non-work topics in your communication channels. Help them share their work to build a better understanding of each other. Expand their perspective even as they work on more isolated projects.
Again, this is not an easy task to implement. Especially in the beginning, you will need to prompt your teams to share their information and expertise frequently. However, once they get in that flow, their desire to improve themselves and their work will begin to shine through.
Digital transformation, whether it occurs on a global or micro scale, adds extra responsibilities and workload to IT teams. Only collaborative approaches to the additional work can help you maximise productivity and keep up. To learn more about the process, download our Guide to Digital Transformation and contact us for expertise in optimising true collaboration.