How to Create Collaborative Work Environment in 7 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A collaborative work environment is an important component for success in a business. It promotes productivity and efficiency amongst employees and increases a business' output. If you're a manager or team leader, it's essential to implement collaborative strategies that can make the work environment conducive to maintain a positive environment in the workplace. In this article, we define a collaborative work environment, discuss how to create a collaborative work environment and list the benefits of improving collaborative activities within the workplace.

What is a collaborative work environment?

A collaborative work environment is a workspace that supports employees and professionals in their individual and group work. This could describe the tools, physical design or the culture in a workplace that encourages collaboration amongst individuals. With this, team members in a workplace can work together, share ideas, communicate and achieve common objectives.

Read more: What Is Collaboration? (Definition and Examples)

How to create a collaborative work environment

Creating a collaborative work environment entails applying certain organisational strategies and techniques. Below are seven ways you can create a collaborative work environment:

1. Adopt openness and transparency as a policy

Companies that are transparent about the organisation's challenges and encourage employees to be open-minded and forthright with their opinions often end up achieving their business goals quicker. The workplace is filled with people with different experiences, skills and backgrounds, therefore effectively managing this diversity comes with a lot of benefits. When employees take note of how transparency and openness influence a work environment, it empowers them to be forthcoming with their innovative ideas and solutions. The result of this is a stronger workplace culture, improved employee engagement and better customer relations.

2. Encourage innovation and idea-sharing

To maintain a competitive edge in business, companies may prioritise innovation. This begins with creating a culture of innovation and inspiring team members to be creative and adaptive. Consider encouraging your team members to brainstorm and ask questions about existing situations. It's also important to maintain a non-judgmental work environment where team members are encouraged to share their ideas, reasoning and thoughts regularly. Doing so can motivate them to be creative, proactive and exceed expectations.

3. Identify and leverage team members' strength

Different team members have different strengths and weaknesses. A good way of assessing this is by getting employees to take a personality test. These tests reveal each team member's character traits, behaviours and abilities. To create a collaborative work environment, endeavour to work with each team member's strengths rather than their weaknesses. You may use the information regarding their aptitude and assign them tasks that best suit their strengths or pair them with team members that complement their weaknesses.

4. Encourage collaboration in the workplace

Every team member can make a valuable contribution through their unique skills, knowledge and experience. A diverse combination of these in the workplace can generate ideas and birth innovations that can enhance a business' success. It's important to show your team members that you value and respect them. This can encourage engagement and collaboration between team members.

Communication plays a vital role in a long-lasting and effective collaboration. Leaders may encourage employees to ask questions and share their opinion, while they also learn to listen and appreciate their viewpoints.

5. Communicate expectations and clarify team goals

To encourage success in business, it's vital to set realistic and measurable team goals regularly. Setting these goals, helps team members to share the same objectives and be aware of the company's expectations. It also serves as a motivator, helps colleagues focus on their tasks, tracks their progress and encourages them to remain accountable to each other.

Likewise, it's important to reevaluate set goals regularly and redirect them when necessary. At the end of each goal time frame, you may share the outcome of their efforts, as this helps them monitor their progress and determine any areas of improvement.

6. Offer incentives and rewards to team members

One great way to create a collaborative work environment is to recognise and appreciate dedicated staff members who have achieved impressive feats. Offering incentives and rewards in the workplace can inspire team members. This creates a collaborative work environment, boosts morale and motivates teamwork in the workplace. Likewise, it works to improve employees' loyalty and increase productivity. Some examples of incentives and rewards include paid time off, cash, charitable giving, gift cards, a paid lunch and additional wellness benefits.

7. Leverage technology

When trying to facilitate collaboration in the workplace environment, utilising the appropriate tools is a necessity. As a team leader or manager, you can provide your colleagues with the right technologies that suit their different skill sets and responsibilities. Doing so keeps them motivated, better equipped to complete their tasks faster and able to invest more time towards innovation and teamwork.

At the centre of collaboration is effective communication. Different technologies exist that support workplace collaboration and help in maximising collaboration. Some of these include video-conferencing software, cloud-based software, messaging platforms, peer feedback networks and shared dashboards.

Benefits of a collaborative work environment

Facilitating collaboration in the work environment is important for several reasons. Here are some benefits of creating a collaborative work environment:

Improves employee learning

A collaborative work environment encourages communication and interaction between leaders and their team members. Employees may pair with other team members to execute different business projects. This workplace interactivity between different professionals improves their learning of various vital skills, such as professionalism, communication, technical and teamwork skills.

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Increased understanding of company's vision

A collaborative work environment encourages interaction between employees and team leaders at different levels and departments. Through this connection, employees get to share their ideas which help to increase their feelings of connection to the team and the company. Likewise, by interacting with employees from other departments, they get to see their importance and the role they play regarding accomplishing the company's vision.

Promotes knowledge sharing

Irrespective of their role or level of hierarchy within a company, employees have different perspectives based on their own experiences and skills. This knowledge, when applied, can be useful and invaluable to the company and can improve its internal function and structure. Team members may feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and knowledge when they feel accepted and valued. Creating a collaborative workplace environment helps to create an atmosphere of trust which promotes knowledge sharing.

Combines individual strength

In a collaborative work environment, employees are often required to work as a team to achieve a common goal. Different employees in an organisation possess different strengths and weaknesses. Collaboration is that one tool that helps to foster an employee's strengths and work to improve their weaknesses. By pairing an employee who is struggling with a particular skill with another team member who is efficient in that skill, the former can improve in that area.

Likewise, the success rate of a project can increase when you pair team members who possess certain distinguished strengths and skills to execute the project. The team is more knowledgeable, which can boost overall productivity.

Related: Project Coordination: Definition and Tips for Using It

Increases employees' creativity and productivity

Employees often perform better when they feel like they're part of a team. A collaborative work environment encourages team members to come together and brainstorm. This exercise encourages them to ask questions and gain new perspectives, which increase their creativity and productivity. Also, through these interactions, a strong team spirit and a sense of accountability can develop. This encourages your co-workers to contribute their skills and expertise towards the completion of a project.

Enhances sense of community

Whether employees are working full time, partially or remotely, collaboration is near impossible when they feel left out or unimportant in the overarching goal of the organisation. By creating a collaborative work environment, employees feel a sense of community as they interact with other team members and learn from them. The benefits of this include improved levels of engagement, reduced stress levels, higher success rates and better performance.

Related: Q&A: What Is Remote Work?

Improves employee satisfaction

Employees who work in a collaborative work environment enjoy full participation and get to share their ideas and opinions with the organisation. The positive atmosphere of the workplace gives them a sense of value, loyalty and trust in the company and encourages them to increase their productivity and output. As a result, they're contented with their job and motivated to give their best.

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