Beyond Connection: Collaboration is the New Corporate Strategy | DCR Workforce Blog

Beyond Connection: Collaboration is the New Corporate Strategy

Business executives and industry analysts keep talking about disruptive technologies, which refers to technological innovations which replace other items, without intending to do so. Take the mobile phone – it has turned watches, phone books, alarm clocks, cameras, flash lights, calendars, pen drives and even computers redundant; inspiring the comment from Ellen Degeneres “So excited for the Apple Watch. For centuries, we’ve checked the time by looking at our phones. Having it on your wrist? Genius.”, when the Apple watch was unveiled recently.

social networkIt would not be an exaggeration to say that children today start using computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones while still in diapers. On the other hand, people who can actually remember how old they were when they started using a computer are falling behind. It is not that they stopped using computers, but their approach is purely utilitarian when compared to the number of uses the younger crowd have for it. Take social networking, or the art of staying connected to everyone in one’s life, whether at a social level or a professional level. According to results published by Pew Research Center, 90% of the 18-29 year olds use these services; whereas only 65% of persons at 50-64 are found to be using social media sites. For users over 65+, this number drops further to 46%.

While numerous studies reinforce these findings, we also find that connection does not necessarily imply collaboration. Examinations of the most common usages of smart phones and the internet point to communication (surprisingly, email still leads the list), research, education, financial transactions, and access to real-time news. Collaboration – the action of working with others to create or produce something – is near the bottom of the list in most studies.

The availability of collaborative technologies – voice, web and videoconferencing applications – has been fueled by the increasing popularity of SaaS-based computing. So why do we not see greater daily use of these technologies as Millennials and Generation X workers overtake Baby Boomers in terms of percentage of the workforce? While each generation does develop a kind of collective identity, generational stereotypes are often merely oversimplified labels. The differences that distinguish people in terms of work styles and abilities are more tightly linked to differences in their length of experience and career stage than to a particular generation.

Employers will need to keep this in mind, finding ways to bring together the talents of all team members in ways that foster collaboration. One way to do this is to establish a collaborative work culture and work style.

  • Incorporate collaborative technologies into standard business practices. Consider ways in which widespread adoption of discussion groups, online chats, shared calendars, instant messaging, videoconferencing and other techniques should become part of your daily approach to conducting business.
  • Do not assume that all workers are experienced in each of these technologies. Make training and documentation available.
  • Consider ways in which to recognize and reward workers for using collaborative technologies to improve operations, enhance your brand, build stronger bonds with your customers, or save operating expenses.
  • Build and maintain competitive advantage though flexible practices, adopting work cultures which suit the needs of your entire workforce, to keep them engaged, productive and creative on the job.
  • Establish ring-your-own-device, tele-commuting and flexible schedule policies aimed at improving your workplace culture.
  • Lead by example. Management functions like information sharing, supervising and monitoring teams, and providing performance feedback should incorporate these new technologies and techniques.
  • Make knowledge-sharing a part of everyone’s work responsibility. Enabling technologies make training and development happen with little cost and no effort – as everyone learns from everyone else.

Internally promote successful examples of distributed teams that deliver results across time zones from any global location, anywhere. Setting up a competitive work atmosphere tends to bring out the negative emotions of people, making them unwilling to support other team members or share knowledge. On the other hand, a collaborative atmosphere is all about group projects, collective support, and results which surpass an individual effort. This makes collaboration the way to go.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.