Culture and collaboration are the two battle cries for teams being mandated to return-to-the office. These seem to be seen as the biggest losses in the many work-from-home gains over the last two years. There is anecdotal evidence that individuals and individual productivity might have benefitted from WFH; but teams and interconnectedness has not. Leaders are talking about increasing challenges on collective delivery in their teams and increased siloes in their organisations.
Yet hybrid and virtual ways of working are here to stay, particularly in a global world. Even where and when teams can be mandated to return to work to a single site or office, this is unlikely to build collaboration. Simply being together, at the same time and in the same place, does not create or automatically foster collaboration. Alongside a compelling, clear, and consequential purpose; and a deep level of interconnection in achieving outputs, teams collaborate when they are skilled in noting what this requires and how to do it. It takes teams building insight and skill for them to collaborate effectively.
One important – and new – aspect of collaboration is whether this needs to be synchronous or asynchronous. Add ASYN COLAB to your vocabulary – it is likely to be a key new term! Put simply does the team get together (in real life or virtually) at the same time and in the same place and work on a task together – synchronous collaboration. Or do they work on a collective task together, but not at the same time. This makes real sense given virtual teams, working across multiple time zones and on a variety of projects concurrently. It may build efficiency, enable members to move things forward in separate ways at different times; and allow for both individual and collective input at different times of the task. It also enables individuals to achieve greater work/life wellbeing, providing greater flexibility and autonomy on when and how collaboration happens.
When starting to ASYN COLAB keep in mind the value of taking time to set the team up well. Planning and preparation help bring clarity to the process. Aligning on the context, expectations, objectives, roles, hand-offs, timelines, and tools is key. Spending time together at the outset to build alignment is useful. And yes, an old-fashioned meeting may be the quickest way to get everyone on-board. Finally, investing in tools is useful – instant messaging, application sharing and whiteboarding are already widely used. Your team may well be Whatsapping, emailing or sharing documents. Add to this the new tools springing up developed specifically for ASYN COLAB. Quick examples include Slack, Mural, Range, Miro and Complish.
Teamery builds better teams. We’re actively experimenting with ASYN COLAB ourselves and with our clients. We’d love to share more with you and your team.