Last Updated: September 9, 2021
Employers often want to know how well you work in teams before they hire you.
Do you know why?
Researchers say that partnering with other people can help skyrocket performance in the workplace.
Looking into the different types of collaboration and dedicated software solutions, we’ll see how business owners and professionals can tap into the benefits of this work practice.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s first get an answer to this question:
What is collaboration?
I’ll tell you all about it.
Here it goes:
What Is Collaboration?
So what does collaboration mean exactly?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines collaboration as a situation in which two or more people or organizations work together for the same goal, with every team member contributing with a unique skill or idea.
Collaboration strategies are suitable in any context, i.e., for service providers, nonprofits, government agencies, institutions of learning, or corporations. Also, businesses can choose to use it both internally or externally for different settings and audiences.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more to know about this essential element of the work process.
Types of Collaboration
You may be surprised to find out there are many different types of collaboration.
Community collaboration environments happen when professionals, usually at the same level, continually share expertise and resources. They can do that either within or outside the organization, as part of an ongoing or new project.
Group members typically apply what they’ve learned from their own practice. They can ask questions or contribute to discussions. The keys to success are respect, trust, empathy, and openness.
These communities exist on extranets and collaborative portals. To safeguard the privacy of critical data, they often carry out screenings before accepting members.
Such settings are common in the healthcare industry, for example, where practitioners share knowledge with their peers.
In a company, team members can collaborate with others to achieve common organizational goals.
For best practice, they need an engaging environment and effective communication. They must also be willing to pull their weight to make it work.
On the other hand, the management also needs to help by providing continuous training and growth opportunities. They should also offer the right tools to make team collaboration a success.
“What is contextual collaboration?” is yet another question that I often come across.
Well, it joins different interactive work applications into one digital platform. It helps to put everything into context or teams working together.
That means bringing messages, maps, videos, images, emails, files, and calendars to a single view.
It comes in handy for businesses working on large projects with equally large teams where following information from various portals becomes almost impossible.
Cross-functional collaboration occurs when people with different expertise work together for a shared objective. This can be within the same or various business departments.
The unified force helps to take a company to greater heights and give it a competitive edge.
Because everyone contributes their individual insights, problem-solving and analytical skills. After that, the business can come up with solutions for problem areas and implement long-term changes.
An example of this type of company collaboration is the sales and marketing departments joining forces to develop a plan to sell more products.
Another name for social collaboration is enterprise social networking.
Essentially, people with specific expertise start Enterprise Social Networks. After that, they use referrals to determine the best candidates to join them.
And the best thing about it?
This type of collaboration happens online, making it easy to share, analyze and contribute at any time and anywhere.
The most common venues are social media or software deployments, where workers discuss their progress on projects.
Are there variations?
Yes, there are. Members can split collaborative efforts into results or time-oriented variations. That means finding suitable solutions comes with a predetermined period. Teams can also choose to have an ongoing arrangement for the same.
Project leads upload work files or documents on central cloud storage. From here, multiple users can read, write, or edit them in real-time.
Here’s a brief history:
Amazon Web Services was the first company to introduce cloud computing in 2006, and started by providing IT infrastructure. Soon after, Microsoft and IBM joined the bandwagon.
The technology paved the way for developers to create systems for employees to be collaborating online.
With this method, users can collaborate with others by sending instant messages, making video calls, and using the tag feature to notify others of critical communication. That way, if they’re offline, they will see them as soon as they get back online.
But it wasn’t always that way:
A few years ago, organizations had to use FTP, email, and instant messengers separately.
Fortunately, the current tools come as a single solution. That way, you don’t have to juggle between different systems, which can be overwhelming.
This joint venture happens when members hold meetings over video conferencing platforms. The person in charge of the schedule sends each guest an invitation to join using smartphones, tablets, or computers.
This type of collaboration works for remote teams because it has no geographical limitations.
Depending on the solution, members can communicate through a special headset, chat, or phone.
Two or more companies can decide to come together to form a union.
The main goal?
To share resources and combine efforts to accomplish a goal.
It usually works best when one business lacks in one area but can offer something else to another looking for what it has. It’s also excellent for startups with limited budgets.
If you decide to take this approach, it’s crucial to outline clear communication expectations and clear objectives. That ensures that everyone brings something to the table. All parties involved must also respect each other.
The Benefits of Collaboration
This blog post gives insights into the question “what is collaboration?”. We now know the different types.
Let’s go a step further and tackle its research-based advantages, one by one.
Most work environments rarely stay the same.
Let me explain:
There is constant change, which calls for high-level versatility when the unknown strikes. That way, your business won’t come to a standstill.
The importance of collaboration is that when people work together as a unit they can handle any unexpected matters better.
Learning from others
Collaboration practices encourage people with different skill sets to work together. In the course of teamwork, they share knowledge building everyone’s information base.
So, when you have everyone working towards a common goal, there’s likely to be more harmony with people willing to help each other.
Raises engagement levels
Good collaboration creates a spirit of togetherness. Amid such a backdrop, everyone becomes determined to chip in for a unified win.
When you have your employees working together in harmony, they’re likely to bring innovative ideas to the table. These can help propel your business to the next level in terms of revenue.
This is why:
If your staff continually brings their A-game, your organization will keep churning out top-notch products or services. So customers are going to prefer coming to you if they want what’s best in the market, which equals more sales.
Creates healthier workplaces
Internal competition or turf wars can create toxic workplaces.
Continually supporting collaboration processes can create a healthy work culture that is not common in places where everyone is “for themselves.” This way, teams don’t feel like they have to sabotage each other.
So, you’ll have everyone looking forward to coming to work rather than feeling sick every time they think about their job. You’ll also be avoiding the pitfalls of negative work cultures.
Higher retention rates
Very few people are happy to work in an environment where they’re scared to ask questions or present their ideas. Collaboration encourages positive and respectful communication within a workplace.
Open communication is likely to keep employees committed and loyal to your organization. So, they are less likely to quit.
Better stakeholder alignment
You can decide to do a business collaboration with your customers, shareholders, or vendors. This approach is helpful because it enables you to get honest feedback about your products, services or business operations.
That way, you’ll be able to know what areas you need to improve. And it will bring better results for the company.
Win-win for everyone!
Peer-to-peer productivity encourages team members to work hard.
That is especially true when you create collaboration environments in which everyone can contribute towards the bigger picture. Then, of course, keeping open communication will help projects run smoothly and efficiently.
So, instead of projects coming to a standstill because the person in charge doesn’t know how to do something, they’re more willing to brainstorm with others. That makes things move along much faster.
How Collaboration Works
There are many different aspects to successful collaboration.
It’s not that important whether you choose to collaborate online or offline.
You should focus on the following:
First of all, have people operating as a unit instead of working in isolated silos.
Then, the joint effort works best if you set clear goals. Everyone in your team should understand the purpose clearly and understand the project’s vision.
And there’s more:
Listen and compromise when necessary, and always communicate with respect and consideration. Don’t forget to include everyone when celebrating wins.
If your business gets it right, it will encourage open culture and eliminate staff turnover. It will also raise productivity, improving your profits.
Collaborative Vs. Cooperate
It’s not uncommon for people to use both terms interchangeably.
But collaboration has one definition in business, and cooperation – another.
Here’s an explanation:
Cooperation is when a group of individuals comes together to support another person’s goal.
For instance, a team member can take the initiative and help a new employee with the basics of doing a study.
On the other hand, collaboration is when people work together to attain a common goal. It’s more formal than cooperation, usually with a team lead that oversees the entire activity.
So, collaboration vs cooperation — what’s more important?
Actually, both are essential because they encourage teamwork.
Collaboration has more weight in specific scenarios because working as a unit becomes natural when people share a common objective.
That’s not to say that cooperation isn’t essential. It is because it also brings workers closer.
Bottomline – leaders should embrace both.
Collaboration Software Worth Your Attention
It’s not just one website with collaboration tools available on the market.
There are many, but not all have every necessary feature to help your company.
Furthermore, some may only be suitable for specific environments or scenarios.
So, I’ll share some excellent options with you:
Monday.com is a fantastic tool for project and collaboration management. It’s suitable for construction workers, engineers, or dispersed sales teams that work remotely.
It’s customizable, has reminders, a drag n’ drop interface, centralized communication, different views, amongst other things.
Monday.com has a two-week trial. It’s also very affordable, with prices starting from as low as $8/seat/month to about $16/seat/month.
LiquidPlanner is an ideal choice to help with collaboration in your company for teams with less than 50 employees. It’s intuitive, shows project pipelines, evaluates portfolios, displays rich reports, gives insights, and much more.
LiquidPlanner has a 14-day trial and comes at $45 per user for small to medium-sized organizations. If you have a large enterprise that handles hundreds of projects, the company can give you a custom quote.
Smartsheet is suitable for individuals and businesses alike. It allows different users to work on the same sheet.
The software comes with Gantt charts, attachment optimization, customizable dashboards, real-time updates, conversation notifications, and lots more.
This solution is pocket-friendly at just $14 to $25 per user per month.
So, what is collaboration?
In a nutshell, this practice allows people to work together for an aim that is common and beneficial to all parties involved.
It comes in many forms, such as community, virtual, cloud, team, strategic, cross-functional, video, or strategic alliances.
That’s not all:
Every business should consider implementing collaboration strategies for the various gains it offers. These include creating healthier workspaces, improving productivity, reducing staff turnover, allowing people to enrich their knowledge base, increasing profitability etc.
Collaboration is a work practice that allows people to combine their expertise and resources to achieve a common project agenda.
Collaboration is vital because it aligns individual goals to those of an organization, which leads to higher success rates. Team members also share knowledge, which translates into swift problem-solving. In addition, collaboration enhances interpersonal relationships, creating healthy work environments.
When answering the question of “what is collaboration,” it’s best to provide an illustrative example. So, here it is:
In an advertising agency, a copywriter and a designer brainstorm together to come up with a TV ad for a new product. Then media planners buy the TV spots for the video to be broadcasted. Each member of the team has contributed towards the common goal with their ideas and expertise.
Here are some advantages of collaboration:
- Increased staff retention
- Higher profits
- Better engagement
- Healthier environment