What is Team Collaboration? Definition, Benefits and Best Practices

What is Team Collaboration?

Team collaboration is defined as a communication and management process within a team of employees that is aimed to accomplish a set of common goals and objectives. 

Members of a team usually share common metrics for performance and team collaboration principles aim to enable better communication and team-work among employees to harmoniously accomplish these larger goals. An organization implementing team collaboration also needs to take into account the use of technology enablers, communication styles, and company culture while framing their team collaboration guidelines and protocols. This is what sets team collaboration apart from people simply working together to produce a service/ product or accomplish a goal. 

Unlike cross team collaboration, which is collaboration among various work teams, team collaboration is a communication and project management protocol meant for members within a team. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns, technology to enable remote team collaboration has gained significant momentum and team collaboration itself has become a central topic in most companies. According to a study by Fortune Business Insights, the team collaboration software market is expected to grow from about USD 17 billion in 2021 to nearly USD 41 billion by 2028. This shows the growing demand for team collaboration both as a project management technique and as a technology tool to drive enterprise goals in the recent years to come. 

Importance and Benefits of Team Collaboration

Having broadly understood what team collaboration is, let’s deep dive into its importance in 2023 and the benefits it brings as a collaborative methodology for better goal accomplishment for the enterprise as a whole:

  1. Increased employee-to-employee contact

In today’s hybrid and remote work environment or even on-premise jobs, employees can often work in silos and feel isolated. No matter where we work, that sense of human contact is absolutely essential for any organization to function with a healthy work environment. 

Team collaboration enables and improves employee-to-employee contact, encourages friendly relations and helps create a more collaborative work environment. 

  1. More efficient project management

A team that is more collaborative is also more efficient in managing existing projects, as well as absorbing new projects and tasks. This is because team members already know each other’s roles and responsibilities, are often self-sufficient in collaboration without managerial intervention, and are more productive.

Infact, according to Forbes, team collaboration can enable employee productivity to rise by 50% more than employees who are working in a silo or an individual setting. 

  1. Improved employee satisfaction 

Team collaboration brings in employee collaboration, but it does not wash away the individual contribution of an employee. Employees still carry individual metrics, and while that may in turn be tied to the larger team/ organization goals, the metrics for success still remain individual. This allows employees to retain their sense of individuality, while also being part of something bigger and more collaborative. Often working with others also helps employees get noticed by their peers and managers for their unique skills and get recognition. 

This balance between individual and team goals brought through team collaboration can lead to improved employee self-confidence and satisfaction at the firm. 

  1. Skill share and latent strength discovery 

Anyone who has had a conversation with another person knows that other people can often be a driver for strength discovery.

For instance, in a creative team, a writer may discover a latent talent for design when working with other designers on a project. Or a computer programmer who may also be a good project manager. 

This doesn’t necessarily need to be broad, sometimes it’s the smaller skills that get shared, such as design short-cuts, process management, software use etc. 

  1. Identification of weaknesses

Working as a team for collaboration doesn’t just expose individual and team strengths, it also surfaces weaknesses. This may pertain to macro organizational flaws such as hiring employees that are not good fits for the existing team structure, insufficient technology stack to facilitate communication or not having the right employee governance and metrics in place. Similarly, there may be smaller team or employee level issues such not setting the right expectations of delivery, misappropriation of resources within the team etc. 

Whatever the identified issues may be, they are always better to have been identified through team collaboration than having them cause damage undetected.  

  1. More future-ready 

If the pandemic taught enterprises anything- it’s the need to have a collaborative environment. A team that is collaborative can handle emergency conditions better, absorb business objective changes and re-orient without confusion and chaos. 

In 2022, it became clear that the future of work will be hybrid and/or remote. In any hybrid work environment, team collaboration becomes paramount to effective data management, business functionality and delivery.

  1. Better disaster recovery and business continuity

A collaborative team can manage enterprise documentation, company assets and data much more efficiently and securely. Such teams also respond to software threats and company emergencies much faster since the collaborative protocols are already in place. This means that in case of a business or natural disaster, continuity of the enterprise will have much higher chances than an organization where collaboration runs scares.

How to Increase Collaboration Between Teams: Top 10 Best Practices

  1. Set clear team goals and objectives for collaboration 

Team collaboration requires a specific set of objectives and goals. The goals and objectives for collaboration already exist, the aim is to clearly identify and communicate them to the team leaders and individual team members. 

For example, a collaboration goal for a sales team would be to keep the CRM software updated for each customer so that the next employee they talk to has the most updated understanding of the relationship. This in turn can point to the larger objective of meeting sales and retention targets. 

  1. Address road-blocks

Team leaders and company management need to ensure that the right paths and decisions-chains are set to address road blocks within a team. These road blocks may stem from technology issues, inter-employee relations, misunderstanding on delivery times, lack of transparency, unclear and/ or overlapping roles and responsibilities within the team etc. 

  1. Set the collaboration process and protocols

Team collaboration requires a set of processes and protocols for each member to follow while communicating with their peers and leaders. This is highly subjective to the larger company culture. For example, a company may or may not strictly forbid any use of casual profanity in meetings, require to screen-share when discussing data, or require specific login times for team members to sync up their work schedules.  

  1. Involve team members while making team collaboration decisions

When making decisions on processes aimed towards streamlining collaboration, it is always important to give each team member a seat at the table. It is certainly understandable if some decisions have to be taken unilaterally by the management and team leaders, however, it is important to listen to concerns or projected roadblocks before ironing out the final steps. 

  1. Use team collaboration software and tools 

Team collaboration software such as Fresco, enables visual collaboration between team members. Such tools can be used for ideation and idea-sharing, brainstorming, task management, sharing analysis data in a visual and easily-consumable format etc. 

Team collaboration tools enable more efficient and effective communication among members while also providing the right technology to present analysis and results to the management. 

  1. Implement the right technology stack for the team

Tech enablers are today the cornerstone for any company function. This technology stack needs to include the requirements of team members working on different tasks since each task may need its own software/ tool. Often, these tools may require integration with each other for better collaboration.  

  1. Ensure individual and team recognition 

While team collaboration will facilitate the achievement of common goals for the team, each employee must have their own individual metrics on which they should receive acclaim and recognition when achieved. Infact, team collaboration often suffers when individual employees feel lost and unrecognized behind the larger team. 

While smaller companies can achieve this without an HR team, for enterprises this function is best achieved when a neutral team like the HR is involved to ensure the decisions are unbiased and the right metrics are evaluated. 

  1. Conduct the right type of employee engagement sessions 

Different employee groups may respond differently to types of employee engagement activities. Some may respond better to a group debate session, while some may want to engage in gaming sessions. It is important to understand employee personalities and preferences before setting the engagement sessions. These sessions can be within the team as well as cross-team, or even company-wide. 

  1. Facilitate employee mental-health wellness

Apart from Covid, another pandemic today is mental health. Team wellness depends on individual member wellness, and employees are most productive and creative when they are mentally fresh and relaxed. 

This means employers and team leaders need to ensure a work culture that is free from personal biases, psychological harassment and bullying, cultivates a respectable and open work environment where freedom of speech is respected as much as professionally possible, ensures employees can take time-offs for mental health without prejudice or losing discretion etc. 

  1. Promote employee socialization 

In today’s hybrid world it is important to observe that sometimes employees are working too geographically apart to socialize in-person. However, socialization should be promoted among those living in proximity and perhaps even a quarterly or annual company-wide gathering. While physical socialization among team members is still the best way to cultivate good working relations, even remote events through the use of conferencing for casual non-office talks can still help fill the gaps.



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