Fostering Workplace Collaboration

This article discusses the recent trends of a more radical office design that is gathering momentum—flexible workspaces.




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    Fostering Workplace Collaboration

    Fostering Workplace Collaboration

    Creating a More Collaborative Work Environment

    In a survey by, 86 percent of workers cited a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.1 It’s no wonder then that business leaders are always on the hunt for ways to foster a better collaborative work environment.

    There are three basic ways to improve collaboration:

    1. The Human Element

    Getting employees to share ideas requires, above all, a level of trust. That means workers should never have a reason to fear rejection, hostility or retribution for sharing their thoughts.

    Employees should know that their opinions are valued. Senior managers must avoid imposing their views, micromanaging or dismissing the input of more junior staff.

    It’s also important that management communicate the personal benefits of collaboration—it can make an employee’s job easier and more satisfying, while helping individual career growth.

    Since behavior follows compensation, the firm’s formula for calculating employee raises and bonuses might include how well individuals collaborate.

    1. Environmental Design

    The design of office space can facilitate or frustrate workplace collaboration. Open office design has been the favored approach to encouraging collaboration and creating a learning environment for employees.

    A more radical office design is gathering momentum—flexible workspaces. In a flexible office design, there are no permanent desks that employees go to each day; instead, seating is flexible, depending upon what an employee needs to accomplish that day and with whom he or she needs to work.

    An open design is typically less expensive to build than a traditional office, and can be more readily redesigned to respond to changes in headcount or how groups work together.

    The downside is the absence of privacy, though that can be addressed with enclosed spaces reserved for times when face-to-face or phone conversations need to be private.

    The furniture used in the office can also promote collaboration. The use of more mobile office furniture is much more amenable to quickly reconfiguring furniture arrangements as the changing dynamics of collaboration require.

    1. Technology

    The confluence of more complex organizations and technological advancements has led to the development of a wide range of collaboration tools.

    These tools can take many forms and are designed to achieve any number of objectives, including such basic tools as electronic calendars, project management software, online spreadsheets and online document sharing.

    They may also include more sophisticated tools such as knowledge management software that collects, organizes and shares information across an organization, as well as video sharing platforms that serve as a “YouTube” for organizational communication and learning.

    To achieve greater collaboration, leaders must be seen as champions for change. Any sign of detachment or indifference from the boss is likely to result in a similar response from underlings.


    See referenced disclosure (2) at   





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