When we collaborate, we work with another person or group to achieve a goal or to complete a task.
Sounds simple, right?
However, collaborating effectively, especially in a hybrid workplace, can be a different story.
While hybrid work affords us great opportunities, like flexibility to get work done how, when, and where we want, it also presents challenges — like increasingly fragmented technology tools, content silos, distributed teams, and new security challenges. Regardless of industry or company size, organizations need more flexible, digital ways of working. They also need to avoid bringing old habits into new tools, such as assuming collaboration has to happen synchronously (everyone in the same room, all at the same time).
With today’s technology, people are pushing the boundaries of what collaboration means, and giving themselves more time to do their most important work. So no matter where you are, here are three tips for successful collaboration from anywhere.
The future is visual
Humans are visual learners. We need collaborative tools that help us realize our strengths and let us tap in and unleash our creativity. In fact, market intelligence from 451 Research found that “visual collaboration tools can provide more flexible digital environments that allow users to think creatively [and] a more enjoyable work experience for some who find traditional work tools frustrating.”
Laryssa Polika, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Collaboration Apps at Box, also added that “the brain can process images and videos 60,000 times faster than text, and we retain 80% of what we see versus a fraction or what we read and hear. So, it’s no wonder that more people are visual learners, and why visual or image-based communication has become essential with the move to hybrid work.”
With visual whiteboarding tools, we can explore what’s possible and move past static text as a one-size-fits-all approach to collaborating on video storyboards, collecting visuals for product design reviews, or running immersive HR trainings. Virtual whiteboards give people the ability to think beyond an 8.5 × 11 space, while bringing documents to life with drawings, links, and voting capabilities. Best of all, it makes working together fun!
Tip 💡: Explore visual collaboration tools to build out ideas together in a shared, flexible digital environment. Experiment with virtual whiteboards to problem-solve challenges and translate complex concepts into easy-to-understand actions.
Working together, separately
Today, we’re mixing offices with living rooms, conference calls with Zoom calls, and physical drawings with virtual whiteboards. All of this is aimed towards feeling more productive while feeling less detached from colleagues and teammates. Instead of letting this disconnect create an added layer of pressure, it’s about letting people find a new way of working that allows them to be their best possible selves.
Stewart Butterfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Slack, shared that since people have adjusted to working from home, it’s important to spend more energy finding new ways to accomplish the same goals. “The idea is not to do the same thing better, faster, or simpler, but just to replace it altogether. We’re all used to being on video calls all day. What if those activities, which we currently only do in a synchronous way, we can instead do asynchronously?”
The past two years have showed us that people can collaborate effectively from any location. If the goal isn’t to always be available, then it should be to make sure everyone is aligned on shared goals and has what they need to accomplish them.
Tip 💡: Meet with your individual teams to discuss and implement unique processes that benefit the needs of the team. Create new workstreams that allow for inclusive collaboration and encourage employees to stay connected regardless of whether they are in the office or at home.
Go back to the basics
The hybrid workplace can be daunting for those looking to get started, and challenging for those who already have. But when in doubt — return to the basics. Collaboration isn’t a single concept; it’s an entire category that will continue to evolve and change. By nature, we can’t expect new forms of work to create the exact same results as the way the old forms did – and we shouldn’t be afraid of some trial and error. “Hybrid work” and the “future of work” are intentionally vague terms because we are the masters of their outcomes. By returning to the basics, defining goals, and figuring out new pathways of achieving them, we can decide what collaboration looks like and take it to its fullest potential.
Tip 💡: Take a step back and perform a quarterly or annual audit of your most effective apps; and recognize where you can reduce friction. Today’s tech stack should work seamlessly for you, so it’s in your best interest to lay out a content and collaboration strategy that enables your team as opposed to weighing them down.
Collaboration is an ingrained part of the next frontier of work. Whether you’re using Zoom for video communication, Slack for internal messaging, or Box Canvas (coming this fall!) for virtual whiteboarding, following these tips can help you create a work environment that works for you!