Konnect Daily

Workplace Collaboration

Workplace Collaboration

Today, in large part thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to collaborate as a team in real time to increase productivity, creativity and collective use of resources. While e-mail is the master tool for collaboration (although the verdict is out on whether it actually makes us less productive), there are more and more ways to work together on projects and benefit from multiple points of view and knowledge bases. As a Los Angeles-based public relations agency with multiple offices and employees across the country including New York, Austin, Denver and Charleston, NC, we rely immensely on structure, technology and an open network of communication to ensure our success and productivity. Here are some ways we make it all work:

Culture – Connectivity and transparency raise many questions, and it becomes increasingly important to create a workplace that encourages open communication, collaboration and the ability to provide input or seek out answers. Open workspaces and open door policies make certain that culture is truly collaborative. At every level, employees should feel free to work together and have open discussions about work product, issues, processes, etc. without real or imagined barriers. What’s important here is to allow for employees to have the opportunity to be heard without judgment which will translate to more creative resources, better team morale, more growth and many other things that come with empowering employees.

Communication – As an organization or team, it’s important for everyone to be aligned on goals, vision, mission, etc. in order to collaborate toward that shared objective. This requires that a company be structured in such a way that no matter where people are located, they know they are all moving in the same direction. It starts with leadership clearly and consistently communicating the company’s values and mission and encouraging employees to live by these values while providing opportunities to put them into practice. For example, if a value is flexibility, then an employee should feel free to speak up when they feel a structure or approach is too rigid and feel they are being heard or their leadership is being flexible. The key here is freedom to speak up and the willingness to listen.

Collaboration TechnologyKonnect uses tools such as Quip, Salesforce and video conferencing to boost our collaboration efforts and productivity. Quip encourages teams to communicate with full transparency not only with each other but with clients as well. Being able to work through living documents also saves us a lot of time. Carmen and Susie even wrote this very blog together on Quip! Another way we’re able to practice collaboration, specifically with our team members located in other offices, is through video conference calls. Even though we may not have had the chance to physically meet some of our colleagues, they never feel like a stranger or distant because it’s so easy to reach them via our VoIP and a quick video call.

Building Teams Based on Strengths – Konnect is a big believer in focusing on our team’s collective strengths, and we find ways for each individual to utilize their main strengths within every team we create. Every employee is asked to take a Clifton Strengths assessment and their results are used to maximize their potential at work. When we recognize each other’s strengths, it’s not only easier to understand one another’s work and communication style, it helps us navigate the best ways to collaborate more efficiently together. When collaboration is a large part of our day-to-day, optimizing performance and understanding one another’s working style is crucial.

Organization and Automation – Collaboration in the workplace should never feel like it’s more work. On the contrary! If a company has established the right workflows and is providing the right tools for working together, it will always be easier to work as a group. For example, Konnect uses consistent processes for our daily tasks and templates for reporting to our clients so that everyone is operating in the same way toward the same goals. In the end, there is never a question of what everyone’s work product will be as expectations are clearly set and processes are followed as uniformly as possible.

Time to Play – Larry Sternberg, JD, co-author of Managing To Make A Difference, says “Make efforts to develop and/or strengthen relationships among your co-workers. Ask about things that are important to them, such as their family or their hobbies and interest. Organize some after-work social activities, such as going out for a drink.” Being able to enjoy time outside of the office and connect on things that may not necessarily be related to work helps boost office morale and helps us be better collaborators. Konnect is known for our company culture, and it’s why so many of us love working together for Konnect and our clients. We hustle every day and work really hard, and we know when to enjoy ourselves going out for happy hour or joining a workout class together. One important thing to keep in mind is that being with colleagues after work isn’t time to complain about work-related matters because what makes this time together most valuable is to learn to bond and find ways to be positive about your work.

Celebrate Each Other – One of the most important elements of collaboration is to make sure we celebrate each other’s successes and support each other when things don’t go well. Creating a supportive relationship with your co-workers will drive them to perform and inspire you to perform as well. At Konnect we often praise each other for work well done via e-mail, Quip, in-person or in whatever way is suitable for the moment. We also have a year-end celebration every year to bring everyone together and collectively reward our employees.

Collaboration is always a work in progress as an organization makes decisions about how to pursue working together in a more open and synergistic way. As long as you stay the course and make a commitment to working together toward shared goals, no matter how it’s done, the payoff in terms of more mind-share, shared successes and camaraderie benefit not only your business, but also your clients and employees. There is nothing but upside in working in solidarity and collaboration! Have fun!

Carmen & Susie