We can all agree that collaboration in the workplace is key. Pooling ideas, diverse skill sets and talents from employees is essential to devising solutions and propelling a business' initiatives. While teamwork is an integral part of a business' success, however, some workers may find themselves struggling with cooperation overload.
According to data collected over the past two decades by Harvard Business Review (HBR)1, time spent in group activities by managers and employees has spiked to 50 percent or more. That leaves less time for equally important work that's completed on their own.
By tapping into technology, however, employees can not only reduce time spent on unnecessary or duplicative team tasks, they can ensure that group activities are optimized.
Try these four ways to unleash the power of individual strengths so there's plenty of room left for collaboration that delivers productivity-packed returns.
1. Use software to streamline admin tasks.
A McKinsey Global Institute2 report finds that 61 percent of the workweek is spent reading and answering emails, searching and compiling information and communicating and collaborating internally. That's valuable time that could otherwise be spent on high-value, independent tasks.
Using software to collaborate can create a centralized hub to share ideas. In turn, it can avoid miscommunication. Invest time and resources to pinpoint issues in team dynamics that could add unnecessary steps, exponentially increase time spent on redundant tasks, bog down the workflow and create inefficiencies.
2. Make the most of communication tools.
Communication tools can reduce time your workers spend bogged down answering emails, sitting in back-to-back meetings and handling basic logistics over the phone. Devise a strategy on creating specific communication channels within and across different departments and for varying projects. It could lead to more efficient communication and better use of your employees' time.
3. Organize ideas into digital visualizations.
Just as with communication, there are a number of easy-to-use, intuitive options to visually arrange concepts and create road maps. For instance, software that creates a basic XY coordinate system can show how two factors or elements might affect one another. Or you can use a four-quadrant visualization to break down abstract ideas or solve a problem. Jot down four different concerns about a project in each of the four boxes, then come up with solutions for each.
Incorporating these visualizations during a video conference or face-to-face meeting with your team could help provide clarity on next steps for a given project. In turn, it can slash time spent answering questions and idling in meetings.
4. Embrace the power of a project management platform.
A study by the Project Management Institute (PMI)3 finds that high-performing organizations invest in project, program and portfolio management practices. Their projects have a higher success rate (92 percent versus 33 percent) and waste less money than organizations that don't.
Incorporating a project management platform can help you streamline activities and monitor progress on your company's multiple projects, deadlines and objectives. It can also increase the efficiency with which you track key assets of a given project. Additional perks: The better delegation of tasks, maintenance of up-to-date schedules and more accurate tracking of project budgets and spending.
There's certainly no one-size-fits-all approach to leveraging technology that will ensure an efficient workflow—your needs will depend on myriad factors, such as the size of your team, the nature of your business and industry and its company culture. By experimenting with different technology and solutions until you find the right fit, you'll be able to empower your team members with the time they need to harness their full capabilities—as both individuals and co-workers.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.