How can we get colleagues talking?

Enhancing collaboration in a dispersed workingforce

March 3, 2015

From the water-cooler to the boardroom, encouraging employee collaboration can reap huge rewards for your organisation.

Now more than ever, organisations are encouraging colleagues to get talking.

Through exchanging best practice tips and sharing expertise, collaborative sessions that bring people together are being increasingly viewed as a breeding ground for game-changing innovation.

In an Economic Intelligence Unit survey of 1,656 executives from 100 countries, the majority said that peer-to-peer communication is vital to the future of their companies.

The survey reported that “increased collaboration will be a defining feature of the company of 2020.

“Executives expect to see a lot more collaborative problem-solving inside and outside their firms, while clear majorities intend to create employee incentives to encourage collaboration across functions (79%) and with external stakeholders (68%).”

In a traditional office setting, bringing employees together is relatively straightforward.

Scheduling a last-minute brainstorming session is possible when the attendees work under the same roof, and communal spaces, such as the water cooler or staff canteen, provide colleagues with daily opportunities to strike up conversation with one another – and an idea sparked while queueing for lunch could develop into a business’s next big approach.

But the structure of many organisations means that getting people together isn’t that simple.

A field-led team, freelance staff or employees scattered across multiple sites – or even countries – might rarely find themselves mixing with other colleagues.

To ensure this crucial part of modern business development is not missed, companies with a dispersed workforce have to be especially creative in how they encourage their staff to get talking.

SSP is a leading provider of general insurance technology solutions.

With staff operating in more than 50 countries across the world, SSP is pushing a ‘collaborate to innovate’ scheme designed to hatch the concepts that will keep the organisation one step ahead of the competition.

Clare Bates, HR and Transformation Director at SSP, said: “We’re providing our people with social enterprise tools and a culture that encourages collaboration.

“It’s all about connecting the knowledge and expertise held across our various teams, divisions and international locations and creating fertile ground for innovation – something that’s clearly vital for a technology business like ours.”

Online forums and internal social media platforms, such as Yammer, are being targeted for increased company investments.

Digital channels offer staff the chance to trade ideas, give feedback on each other’s work and tap in to conversations remotely.

Encouraging employees to engage with these community hubs helps stimulate a collective environment – no matter where people are based.

As more organisations promote inter-colleague communication – whether this be in organised meetings, at the vending machine or from behind their keyboards – managers will be keeping their fingers tightly crossed that it’s only a matter of time before internal networking yields the next big industry headline.

Going forward, it’s looking as if a community of heads is certainly better than one.