21st-century tech start-ups like AirBnB, Monzo, HelloFresh, and Uber have demonstrated that even the smallest creative teams can take on industry giants to produce breakthrough ideas that truly revolutionise the industry. Even the biggest concepts had to start somewhere, and that’s where effective collaboration comes in.
Working together in the digital workplace has become more important than ever, but successful collaboration (especially in times of change) can be a tough nut to crack. Even the most forward-thinking organisations struggle to get it right.
Here, we’ve listed the biggest barriers to intranet usage and online collaboration, and the simple things you can do to avoid them.
1) Inadequate training
Often, companies will launch the latest digital collaboration tools in the hopes their employees just start using them.
But, like any other habit, successful collaboration requires training and support to get it off the ground. We suggest tailoring your efforts to your company’s specific needs and goals.
Without proper training, it’s unlikely your staff will get on well with a new digital system… 😬
While intranet training is key, there are softer collaborative skills worth cultivating in your business, such as active listening, having challenging conversations, stakeholder management, and building effective partnerships.
HR professionals and internal communicators alike can build a collaborative workplace by supporting colleagues to understand the nuances of collaboration, and how these skills can be applied to everyday activities.
2) Those dreaded silos
Even the most collaborative and forward-thinking organisations face issues with siloed working. When departments focus on their own goals instead of those of the wider business, opportunities are missed to bring together different perspectives and complementary skills.
A large part of the problem is when different teams and departments use different tools and processes to work together. While some areas of the business may favour web-based project management tools such as OneDrive or Trello, other areas may find a whiteboard or regular meetings more effective. While there’s space for personal preference, getting everyone on the same page is the key to unlocking true collaboration.
This is particularly challenging when working in a large organisation, or one where colleagues are based at different sites, or worse, different continents. While face-to-face communication remains the most effective and preferred method of collaboration for most, providing staff with digital hubs, such as enterprise social networks, are great places to encourage inter-departmental collaboration.
Break down silos with digital tools like intranet software and internal social media
3) Application overload
While digital transformation continues to be a major focus for many organisations, the sheer volume of digital collaboration tools can actually be detrimental to effective collaboration in the workplace.
From more traditional forms of communication such as email and intranet to Office365, Skype, Slack, and Yammer, there are so many conversations happening that it can be a tough job keeping track of it all.
The explosion of digital collaboration tools shows no signs of slowing, so businesses are now looking to find simpler and more straight-forward routes to engage colleagues.
A good place to start is to re-launch your suite of collaboration tools. Use internal communication channels to renew the focus on a small handful of tools, and ensure senior stakeholders are seen to use and promote them where possible. Engaging key individuals in teams across the business is the right way to initiate change.
4) A lack of trust
Fostering a culture of trust in your organisation is absolutely vital to successful digital collaboration. Building trust begins with smaller acts, like demonstrating integrity, sharing risks and rewards, and acknowledging a job well done. Amplifying these acts is a sure-fire way to promote innovation and collaboration in the workplace.
Encourage workers to share their successes (and challenges) via your digital workplace or colleague social network – not only will this make the recipient feel valued, it’ll do wonders for colleague engagement and trust. Being brave enough to show vulnerability and compromise in the digital sphere is something all great leaders do.
5) Competing demands
When inboxes are bursting and diaries are back-to-back, it can be tough to foster new behaviour.
Relentless workplace demands can stifle collaboration, innovation, and new ways of thinking, yet common sense tells us that increasing our efficiency is a great way to free up time. Instead of adding to the mailbox mountain and sending 10 separate emails, try using your intranet to start the conversation. Got a question? Post it on your corporate social network.
Successful organisations free up time for their colleagues by automating those menial workplace requirements. Try using your intranet for online forms, or mandatory compliance tasks.
Automate routine tasks with online forms and workflows
Instead of hoping collaboration will just happen, encourage your colleagues to make time for it. Set up ‘collaboration days’ where individuals can plan to be in the office to attend specific team meetings, brainstorming sessions, or simply make time for that all important face-to-face conversation. Afterwards, use your digital workplace or intranet to bring everyone together, to share follow-up notes, actions or documents required after the meeting. This is a fantastic way to keep those lines of communication open.