Three Steps to Make Workplace Collaboration Work for You

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Do you collaborate well in the workplace or are you more of a loner? Does idea sharing encourage more creativity and job satisfaction or cause more confusion in the delivery of project results? These are important questions dealing with a modern day buzz word—collaboration. Arthur Kay is the co-founder and CEO of Bio-bean which is a green energy company that recycles waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels. Mr. Kay is also an award-winning designer and entrepreneur. In a recent article in The Guardian., he addressed the pros and cons of collaboration in the workplace. This article discusses some ideas Mr. Kay shared and how business owners and employees can collaborate more effectively in the workplace.

What’s the Story Behind Workplace Collaboration?

According to Mr. Kay, the last twenty years has seen a change in organisational structures due to advances in the digital age. The art of effective collaboration has become a hot topic among new companies, government agencies, non-profit organisations and other entrepreneurial ventures. Mr. Kay advised that many people “see collaboration as a super-pill that can cure organizations’ ills, regardless of the diagnosis.” His jumping off question in his article was whether or not collaboration is actually as effective as we’re led to believe.

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, I found Mr. Kay’s advice to be extremely helpful. Many companies that fully embrace collaboration are small businesses and startups. These are two groups of entrepreneurs that Mr. Kay advises they precede forward with caution. Collaboration can be a fun experience and intellectually stimulating as it helps in “generating new ideas and developing projects.” However, the major detriment is that it can cause a new company to lose focus on the end goals of staying competitive in the market. Mr. Kay mentioned that “success among early-stage organizations is rarely just down to a good idea but to the execution of that idea.” As Thomas Edison aptly said, success is about “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

Three Steps to Make Workplace Collaboration Work for You

Making collaboration work for you takes some practice. However, the process is not too difficult if you follow a specific plan. The following three steps are taken from the advice offered by Mr. Kay as he shared his opinions on the pros and cons of collaboration.

1. Learn How to Avoid Distractions

As a small business owner, I know the value of time and how to delegate tasks and projects to achieve the best results. Resources such as finances, manpower and time need to be selectively deployed to accomplish various job tasks and work projects. Obviously, small business owners need to be open to collaboration regarding new opportunities. However, as Mr. Kay advises, business owners need to “remain focused on delivery and execution.” Many big corporations live on various collaboration endeavors and waste precious time on “think tanks” and seminar participation. Small business owners and new start-ups don’t have the resources to waste in such collaboration efforts. Mr. Kay advises that they should remove distractions, start small and effectively utilise their in-house resources to achieve optimum results.

2. Realize Collaboration is a Two-Way Process

Many times, small companies and new start-ups are run by entrepreneurs who are visionaries and very creative. They work well as collaborators and know how to effectively utilise the skillsets of all their employees. These collaborators understand the process of cultivating a working relationship of idea-exchange with their employees. However, these small companies don’t always work well in implementing strategies and ideas generated from collaboration efforts. Larger companies sometimes spend too much time on collaboration. However, many times they do effectively accomplish idea implanting. Mr. Kay advises that “there is undoubtedly a time and place for collaboration. However, as with all instruments, it should be deployed with moderation if we actually want our organizations to improve.”

3. Utilise Careful Time Management

If collaboration is done right by utilising careful time management, it can be useful for both large and small organisations. Mr. Kay advises that it “can lead to greater workplace satisfaction and allow employees to enjoy the benefit of richer ideas, more team buy-in and the breakdown of barriers inside and outside the workplace.” However, when collaboration is done badly, it becomes a distraction and wastes our valuable resources. Collaboration works best when the following five steps are taken.

  • Accept that you are part of a team effort
  • Exert a serious effort into the process
  • Cultivate a fun and productive environment
  • Disconnect for a time in order to get creative
  • Designate a specific collaboration space

Collaboration can be a very useful process to cultivate new ideas and develop projects in the workplace. It takes consistent effort on the part of everyone involved in order to ensure a successful collaboration process. According to Mr. Kay, you can make workplace collaboration work for you by avoiding distractions, finding a balance and making the most of careful time management.


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