Workforces are not what they looked like 15 or even 10 years ago.

Many employees now work remotely from their homes, co-working spaces and even coffee shops.  Others operate from multiple offices over several cities.  Co-workers are frequently located in different cities or even countries. 

These distributed teams are forcing us to update our way of thinking about communication and collaboration within the modern workplace.

What is the modern workplace?

The modern workplace is a network, rather than a single location.  It is a collection of continually evolving places that connects members of an organisation.  It is flexible, dynamic, and collaborative space, where work is done, powered by technology.

There is continuous digital transformation that empowers the teams to do more with less.  It encourages people within the workplace to take on the characteristics of being flexible, dynamic, and collaborative.

The modern workplace needs to provide several elements for it to function correctly.

  • It must be streamlined.  There needs to be a smooth and simplified interconnection between each member of the workforce and across every division.
  • It must be available 24/7.  To cater to the globalisation of the team, the workplace platform needs to be available around the clock and be accessed from anywhere. 
  • The workplace needs to be geographically flexible.  It cannot be bound to a single location or time zone. 
  • The workplace fosters empowerment of the team members, by providing the necessary tools to perform at their best.

How do we foster communication and collaboration?

Both communication and collaboration rely on sharing.  The critical difference is that communication is about sharing information.  Collaboration is about sharing the responsibility of the outcome or result.

Communication can be mastered by understanding the different elements required to communicate effectively across the organisation.   To master collaboration, the contemporary workplace needs the right stack of communication tools in place.

Communication System

The ultimate communication system in a modern workplace contains three elements.  An inner loop, an outer loop, and an open loop.  Each component is driven by tools that optimise the communication in the specific loop.

  • The inner loop incorporates everyone that an employee regularly works with.  Usually on core projects and within their team or working group.
  • The outer loop comprises the rest of the organisation they work for.  This loop helps disseminate information on leadership and human resources.
  • The open loop includes everyone else.  It facilitates communication with vendors, customers, outsourced workers, and anyone else who is not employed by the organisation.

What are the communication tools for collaboration?

Once a modern workplace understands their communication loops, they need to use the right collaboration stack to share information, outcomes, and results.  The collaboration stacks are the tools you will apply for seamless communication. 

There are many platforms and apps you can be used for each loop. 

  • Inner loop tools include Trello, Hangouts Chat, or Teams. 
  • Outer loop platforms include Slack, Google sites, Workplace by Facebook. 
  • Open loops can include Outlook, Thunderbird or Gmail.

How to choose the right stack?

When choosing the right stack for your organisation, you need to consider:

  • Interconnectivity – the tools should work together.  They should easily integrate and have the freedom to move quickly between each app or platform.
  • Accessibility – the tools should be available for all devices.  This is easiest if the organisation provides work devices.
  • Reliability – the tools should work, even if connection problems arise.  The modern workforce needs to have access to their workspace, whether they are at home, in an office or traveling.
  • Easy to use – if employees find the tools difficult or worthless, they won’t be adopted.  Tools need to be intuitive and easy to implement.

Choosing the right technology to master collaboration and communication is intensive but well worth the effort.  But it doesn’t stop there. 

Management needs to encourage collaboration by using the chosen communication tools.  Show the workers through example, the importance of mastering digital communication to facilitate cohesive collaboration within the organisation.

© Human Resources Global

Categories: Team Member


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