Collaborative skills have always been essential in the workplace — and that’s even more true in the age of post-pandemic work.
With employees of several companies now operating in hybrid environments, in-person or face-to-face collaboration in a setting other than video conferencing may not always be possible.
But workers don’t operate alone — often, in work settings, peers need to collaborate to get tasks done. So it’s easy to understand why effective collaboration can make the difference between an organization’s growth or stagnation.
In this article, we’re going to explore eight collaborative skills to help your team achieve better business and operational outcomes.
When two or more people collaborate, it means that they’re working together toward a common goal. A collaborative effort can involve completing tasks, coming up with new ideas, or implementing new systems.
Collaborative skills enable effective teamwork and collaboration, encompassing open-mindedness, communication, conflict resolution, and more.
Cultivating these abilities allows teams to unleash their full potential and achieve remarkable results, including the following outcomes:
To learn more about the benefits of collaboration, check out our article, “How Can Collaboration Help a Business Grow? [2023 Guide].”
There are a number of things you, as a business owner or manager, can do to help team members build and reinforce collaborative skills. Let’s take a look at eight of these essential capabilities and how they fare in the hybrid work context.
Open-mindedness is the willingness to consider ideas and opinions that are different from your own.
When a team comes together to solve a problem, it’s inevitable that not all members will share the same ideas, visions, or perspectives. But that’s a good thing.
Diversity in thought gives your team the ability to come up with new and innovative solutions — the very thing that could skyrocket your business’ growth.
A great example of open-mindedness in action is Apple. The then disruptive underdog, led by Steve Jobs, might never have taken a chance on its greatest project and gamble — the design and production of the iPhone — if it hadn’t been for open-mindedness.
Though Steve Jobs receives much credit for being bold enough to image the iPhone, he wasn’t initially convinced that Apple needed to work on this project.
It was his brother-in-law, who worked for Microsoft at the time, who had been convinced of the potential and inevitability of this project by another engineer, Jean-Marie Hullot.
Jobs did keep an open mind and was eventually persuaded.
From 2004–2007, a cross-functional team headed by Tony Faddell, Sir Jonathan Ive, and Scott Forstall, engineers, and designers, came together to design this never-before-seen concept — a touchscreen smartphone.
It took the world by storm, and Apple is now the second-most valuable company in the world.
Employees who aren’t sure how their input will be received might avoid speaking out. To combat this, leaders should promote a culture that values curiosity and encourages constructive discussions.
Here are a few tips to make that happen:
Of course, brainstorming sessions aren’t the only forums for fostering open-mindedness. Encourage cross-functional and inter-departmental collaboration instead of keeping your team in their silos. This exposes your employees to new ideas and ways of doing things.
Don’t forget to include remote workers, too. While brainstorming via video conferencing takes a while to get used to, the principles of open-mindedness remain the same.
Effective communication skills are crucial in the workplace, particularly when some team members work remotely. Failing to prioritize communication can result in the formation of “ingroups” and “outgroups,” which can hinder collaboration and impede productivity.
Collaboration also thrives on seamless knowledge sharing. It’s not enough to have great ideas — the ability to express them clearly is equally important.
Research by Grammarly, in conjunction with Harris Poll, shows that ineffective communication costs US businesses $1.2 trillion dollars every year in wasted productivity.
Furthermore, it’s essential to recognize that people have diverse communication styles, and these variations must be considered when fostering effective communication within a team.
Use a hybrid workplace management tool like OfficeRnD Hybrid to prevent ingroups and outgroups from forming between your in-office and remote workers.
In-office employees can invite their remote teammates to join them in the office when in-person collaboration is required. Those working remotely can also check who’s in the office and plan their collaboration ahead of time.
Be aware of your own communication preferences while also adapting to your employees’ preferred ways of communicating. For example, some may prefer written communication, while others might be more comfortable with verbal communication.
But it isn’t just preferences you have to consider. The way you communicate with someone working in the office versus someone working at home also differs, as the latter can’t rely on behavioral and tone of voice cues that are the hallmarks of nonverbal communication.
As such, things can get lost in translation.
Lastly, it’s crucial to give everyone a voice. Otherwise, you’ll only get input from the most outspoken employees. When everyone feels like they’re able to express themselves, collaboration naturally ensues.
Active listening is more than just hearing what your coworkers are saying — it’s making a conscious effort to understand their points of view.
If employees sense they’re not being heard, they might give up trying to communicate with you (and each other). This leads to a breakdown in communication, which then impedes collaboration and can even worsen workplace relationships.
For example, many hybrid companies hire employee experience managers whose main quality is active listening.
Of course, practicing active listening differs in a face-to-face setting versus a remote setting.
While it’s possible to focus on body language and non-verbal cues during face-to-face and video conferencing meetings, that’s rather unlikely during other periods of collaboration in which the communication channel of choice is a written one.
In that case, you can paraphrase and ask follow-up questions to show you’re paying attention.
Organization is an important skill to have, especially now that hybrid and remote work is becoming normalized. The ability to plan and execute your own schedule and delegate tasks to others not only enables a truly collaborative workplace but also guarantees that things are done efficiently.
When employees constantly reassign tasks or miss deadlines, entire projects slow down. This can also frustrate other team members, who have to wait even longer than anticipated before they can begin their part of the project.
Use collaboration tools, such as calendars, project management software, and time trackers, to make organization easier.
OfficeRnD Hybrid can help you organize your team by allowing them to plan their schedule in advance. Employees can coordinate when to work onsite and when to work from home. And when they choose the former, they can book a desk in advance.
But don’t just rely on technology. Delegate duties according to skill, knowledge, experience, and competence. Make sure everyone has enough to do, but avoid overworking your employees, as that can lead to hybrid work burnout.
Rarely do collaborative projects go exactly the way we want. Priorities shift, delays happen, funding runs out, and personnel can change.
Being able to adapt at a moment’s notice can be the difference between a stressful work environment and one that runs smoothly, especially when working in a hybrid environment.
Companies that have adapted over the past few years to the global pandemic, the rise in artificial intelligence, and the shift to remote and hybrid work are seeing a 28% increase in revenue compared to those who remain stuck in their old ways.
These companies are also 40% less likely to go bankrupt. So as you can see, adaptability is an important collaborative skill to foster. That’s why collaborative leadership is a valuable skill nowadays.
When things don’t go according to plan, stay calm as you figure out the next steps.
Perhaps that means brainstorming a way out of the problem. Or maybe it entails putting out fires and reorganizing workflows. Whatever it is, recognize that things are constantly changing, and keep an open mind.
Conflict in the workplace can arise for any reason, from differing opinions to personality clashes to arguments over limited resources. If allowed to continue, it can sour the mood and turn a previously collaborative culture into a toxic one.
That’s why conflict resolution — the process of finding a solution to a problem that all parties find agreeable — is such a vital collaborative skill. And these days, a leader should be a master collaborative communicator.
If the cause of a conflict is a lack of desks in your new hybrid office, OfficeRnD Hybrid’s desk booking feature can help.
When clothing manufacturer Dewhirst transitioned to hybrid work, their employees found themselves arguing about who would sit where and when.
To learn how Dewhirst resolved their frustrations, check out our case study, “How Dewhirst Used the Teams Integration to Jump Start Their Hybrid Work Model.”
Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and control your own emotions while also understanding the emotions of others.
It involves knowing how you’re feeling at any given time and how others are feeling while you interact with them — and making optimal decisions based on those factors.
Understanding others’ feelings makes collaboration that much easier. But that’s not the only advantage.
According to a survey by LHH, emotional intelligence is the top factor in:
Start by understanding your own actions and reactions. How do you react in various situations, such as when deadlines are coming up? How do you work best? How do you like to communicate?
Next, observe others. How do they respond in different workplace scenarios? How do they work best? What’s their preferred method of communication (or, in a deskless setting, the most convenient method for them)?
You can use what you learn about yourself and others to make decisions that enable effective collaboration. For example, you can tailor your feedback to a particular employee based on how they react to constructive criticism. Or you can offer support when another colleague is stressed.
Emotional intelligence is a particularly important skill to develop when engaging remote and hybrid teams simply because, for most, the face-to-face option and all the nuances it brings aren’t available.
Misunderstandings can occur more often if you’re not careful, which can widen the gap between in-office and remote workers.
In this case, you can promote emotional intelligence by scheduling one-on-one chats with each team member to get to know them better. You can also encourage them to get to know each during virtual after-work drinks or other social settings.
Time management is the art of using your time efficiently. It entails being realistic about your capacity, effectively communicating that capacity to your team for task delegation, and respecting others’ availability. Ensuring that team members aren’t overworked or underworked is crucial.
Effective time management strategies include planning your day, better prioritizing your tasks, not multitasking, limiting distractions, and delegating.
You can also use various time management tools, such as calendars, task and project management tools, distraction blockers, habit builders, and time trackers.
OfficeRnD Hybrid can help you plan your day with its hybrid work scheduler. It integrates into your tech stack so you can schedule in-office time directly from your Microsoft or Google app.
You can also see how productive your team is with workplace analytics and use these insights to optimize how you run your office.
How well your team collaborates in person can be the difference between growth and stagnation, especially now in the era of hybrid work. Make it easier for your team to develop collaborative skills by using the right tools.
OfficeRnD Hybrid is an easy-to-use hybrid workplace management solution that makes in-person collaboration easy for any hybrid team.
Employees can plan out their schedules in advance, see who’s in the office, send customized invites to up to 15 favorite colleagues, and much more. They can also book desks and meeting rooms for brainstorming sessions.
Get started for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid, no strings attached.
Collaboration skills include communication, open-mindedness, conflict resolution, active listening, emotional intelligence, delegation, understanding a variety of perspectives, managing priorities, meeting expectations, and having a cooperative spirit and mutual respect.
You can describe your collaboration skills in your resume and cover letter by providing evidence that you work well in a team. Talk about your biggest collaborative project and the outcomes achieved through working together. For example, I worked with the customer service team to reduce customers’ wait times from half an hour to 5 minutes.
There are many ways you can develop collaborative skills. Some of these include setting goals and defining expectations, using the right tools, and celebrating each successful collaboration.
Three important skills for teamwork and collaboration are effective communication, being open to and accepting of new ideas, and conflict management.
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