As well as the technological tools, for effective collaboration there has to be a culture shift within workplaces, driven from the top.
The old approach was linear. I do my job and then pass to the next person to do their bit. Then it gets passed along again. It’s a process that is all very inefficient and time consuming.
The new way is that everyone comes together simultaneously to work, discuss, challenge and debate regardless of function, level or role. Yes, we need tools and processes to do this, but to be successful we also need a culture of collaboration.
Go back fifteen years and ask an organisation how they encourage staff or students to collaborate on group projects and the response could well be “we provide bean bags for people to pull up and have a chat.”
Fast forward to 2016 and higher education establishments are leading the way in collaborative working. So where best to understand the change in collaborative cultures than a successful project within this sector, looking to be adopted by other organisations?
In a recent engineering laboratory project for a leading public research university in London, their culture was evident in their stated objective of supporting students to work both collaboratively in groups, and as individuals that can easily share information. A key requirement was to engage and enhance collaboration and group working on a large scale, from 2 to 64 people.
The university had a vision to maximise the use of furniture and technology to deliver a state of the art laboratory experience that was focused on collaboration, communication, connectivity and real-time data collection for individuals, group and class active learning.
The solution, eight bespoke collaborative desks housing technology, which enables the ability to live stream video content which can be shared with other desks, the lecturer or individual monitors. Learning together and allowing the lecturer to communicate with pairs or collectively, avoids students having to crowd round one desk and interrupt discussions.
They instinctively understood that when you take account of the way students want to work, and employ the right technology to support that, you widen the possibilities and address the needs of many.
And whilst universities are leading the way, this approach is not exclusive to the higher education market. If a corporate organisation embraces the right culture, these types of solution can be adapted, for example, offer a touch screen for sharing annotated notes. Throw video conferencing into the mix and information can be distributed remotely. If we introduce live video capture, then decisions, along with their success or failure can be analysed and reviewed in a collaborative environment.
How important do you think a collaboration culture is? Is it embraced in your workplace? Or are there barriers that are stalling it? Join the debate in the comments, or talk to us on Twitter or LinkedIn.