What Is Collaboration? (Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 July 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.

Collaboration may help increase productivity and foster a creative environment in the workplace. Promoting open and effective communication and sharing ideas between individuals may also help build a positive community. Learning what team collaboration is and hiring a candidate that possesses collaborative skills may also be beneficial for a company. In this article, we explore what is collaboration, why it's important, its benefits and four examples of collaboration in business to help you better understand the term and how to apply it.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a CV

What is collaboration?

Collaboration is a way that individuals work together to reach a common goal, typically by using their various knowledge and skills. Companies may benefit from team collaboration to improve productivity, such as reaching sales quotas, project management milestones or job satisfaction rates. Creating a functioning team and implementing processes to ensure teams can collaborate properly is also an important aspect of sustaining a successful business. Here are two common types of collaboration in business:

  • Synchronous: individuals work together in real-time, like in person or through video, to perform their tasks.

  • Asynchronous: individuals typically work on tasks separately and at different times because of differences in location or schedules.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

What is the purpose of collaboration?

Collaboration may have several purposes when implemented in a business. Here's a look at some purposes of collaboration that might help teams work more efficiently:

Project sharing

One purpose of collaborating is to keep those involved with the project informed. Collaboration may promote the equal sharing of information so that team members understand the overall goals and complete tasks successfully. Keeping team members up to date on new processes and developments may also help increase productivity and encourage future team collaborations.

Decision making

Collaboration is often essential to the decision-making process because it may help to advance the project to the next phase. You may gain new perspective and insight by working with others, leading to effective decisions. No matter your position level, you may benefit from collaborative decision making in your professional career.

Problem solving

Problem solving is another purpose of collaboration, which may include exchanging ideas and solutions. You may expand on suggestions and concepts through collaboration, adding input and perspective to create comprehensive problem-solving measures and techniques. Through collaboration, you can:

  • Define problems and concerns

  • Brainstorm process and solution ideas

  • Develop criteria to evaluate ideas

  • Evaluate each idea

  • Pick a solution or process

  • Strategically implement the solution or process

Project management

Another purpose for collaboration is to fulfil project management duties or adhere to specific parameters to deliver a complete project. A collaborative team effort may help to produce a successful project because of the multiple levels of review. Through sharing, exploring and considering ideas and alternatives, implementing a project management routine may help ensure problems and solutions get identified.

Related: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look For

Why is collaboration important?

Collaboration is also a great professional skill to talk about during job interviews. Consider sharing examples of how you worked with others towards a common goal and how you achieved those goals. You may also share a story about how collaborating helped identify a potential issue and allowed you to create and implement a solution quickly. Collaboration in the workplace is also important because it often promotes:

  • Engagement: Collaboration may foster employee engagement and influence a positive community. Consider involving all employees in collaborative efforts to drive engagement and create an environment of teamwork and partnership.

  • Job satisfaction: Job satisfaction may help increase productivity and collaboration among team members. When employees feel valued and heard, they may find new ways to engage with one another in order to finish a project effectively.

  • Communication: Collaboration also often increases communication among a team or organisation. Whether in person, on conference calls, through email or with messaging platforms, individuals can share updates, ideas and progress on their work and hear from other team members, too.

  • Motivation: Teamwork and collaboration may help motivate teams or individual employees. For example, you might notice a colleague who's performing routine tasks and through your encouragement and motivation, they have a renewed passion for how their work contributes to both the team and organisational goals.

  • Continuation of knowledge: While employees have various areas of expertise, collaboration allows them to learn from one another continuously.

  • Innovation and efficiency: Since collaboration includes those with varying personalities and backgrounds, there's an increased chance of fresh problem-solving ideas and more efficient ways of completing work or creating new processes.

  • Productivity: Collaboration through shared work often allows projects, responsibilities and tasks to get completed quickly with high rates of production value. Team members can take care of tasks best suited to their talents and skills.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

What are examples of collaboration?

Collaboration typically requires open communication and the sharing of information. Here are four examples of collaboration to consider:

Coordinating a marketing and advertising campaign

In this example, a digital marketing team wants to create a new advertising campaign for smartphones:

Audio Personified technology company wants to launch a new version of a popular smartphone and market it uniquely. Through collaboration, the digital marketing team invites the national sales management team to a meeting to hear about promotions, marketing methods and advertising campaign ideas. The national sales team comes prepared with historical sales data from previous smartphone versions and forecasted sales estimates for the new one. They also gathered insights into competitor advertising campaigns for the marketing team to review. Together the team creates an effective campaign that generates more revenue in pre-sale orders than the past two smartphone versions combined.

Increasing revenue or saving money

In this example, an international airline wants to increase revenue and profit without charging customers more for their airfare tickets or buying new planes to operate:

Several departments at UpCloud Air collaborate through several meetings, conference calls and emails to run an organisational efficiency study over three months. They creatively explore process improvements and revenue opportunities to save money and i**ncrease revenue through ideas like:

  • Flying larger aeroplanes with more seats on popular routes to increase ticket sales

  • Finding new ancillary revenue options for goods and services like curbside check-in or meals for purchase

  • Reviewing service level agreement audits for business partners

  • Investigating common mechanical delays and preventing them

  • Decreasing the time an aeroplane stays grounded between flights

  • Sourcing new fuel providers

  • Finding lighter equipment options to save on fuel

  • Eliminating leadership position redundancies

Through collaborative efforts of employees with different areas of expertise, the airline can both increase revenue while reducing costs.

Using technology to increase collaboration

In this example, a company has several employees that work in different time zones and countries, often assigned to the same project or campaigns:

The international team at Diagonal Marketing Unlimited enjoys collaborating on projects, especially between the Hong Kong and Singapore offices, however, team members say there's often an overlap of work because they don't know who's working on which tasks. The business owner recognises the importance of efficient collaboration and sources a technology solution that allows the international team to:

  • Login remotely from a computer or mobile device

  • Check off completed tasks or responsibilities

  • Keep track of project milestones, deadlines and completed work

  • Edit documents and presentations for all to access the updated files

  • Message co-workers on the internal portal

  • Access a stored library of past project records

The software solution allows for better and more collaboration, increasing team member morale, creativity and efficient productivity.

Generating creative solutions

In this example, employees collaborate to find a working solution to keep the restaurant they work in open for business:

The dining area of Tavern Bar and Grill gets damaged in a storm and customers can't sit to enjoy a meal, though the kitchen is safe and fully operational. In a team meeting, the restaurant owner asks everyone to brainstorm creative ideas to keep employees working while repairs happen in the dining area. Through collaboration, the team considers:

  • Creating new menu specials

  • Increasing takeout hours

  • Providing free delivery

  • Promoting on social media and the restaurant website

What are some tips for collaboration?

Here are three tips to encourage creative collaboration at work:

  • Be courageous. Be open to sharing and hearing ideas, no matter how unusual.

  • Examine all the options. Take each idea seriously and explore its viability as an option.

  • Celebrate collaborative successes. Recognising positive outcomes may also encourage even more collaboration amongst the team.

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