Everyone knows teamwork is important, but sometimes it just seems easier to roll up our sleeves and do things ourselves. We should resist that urge, since spreading a workload among several people rather than putting an intense burden on just one person reduces stress and increases the likelihood of on-time completion of projects. Teamwork also boosts morale and increases learning among group members.
But creating a work-place culture that fosters collaborative efforts is far easier said than done. Having been the leader in shared, temporary and virtual office space in and around D.C. for more than 25 years, we at Metro Offices have seen a lot of collaboration, so we know what works (and what doesn't). Here we share our top three tips for getting your people working together naturally.
Break that ice
Total strangers aren't likely to have good work flow with each other, so before you demand routine collaboration from your people, make sure they know each other -- and not just in a 'work' way.
It may seem counterintuitive, but kick off a work project by not working. Plan a lunch or afternoon pick-me-up (a group trip to the frozen yogurt place down the street, perhaps?), pick up the tab and have no agenda or work items to get done. Instead, let people talk to each other, or try some fun ice-breakers. Perhaps two of your team are natural introverts. A free lunch with no work talk could be just what they needed to bond over a mutual love of opera, thus strengthening their previously tenuous bond and upping their chances of working together successfully.
Have the right space
Who feels like they can get together and brainstorm if their office is nothing but cubicle walls? Make sure your space invites collaboration. You'll need a few huddle rooms or areas with sofas, love seats and/or other comfortable seating. Have fun with it, too -- after all, there's no reason your people can't come up with some of their best ideas from a beanbag chair. Of course, not everyone wants to sit all the time, and for our health we should all do less sitting, anyway.
Don't have the budget for a full office redo? Metro Offices' locations throughout D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia have no shortage of huddle rooms and other comfortable, collaborative spaces suited to practically every taste. And all are conveniently, centrally located.
Play to people's strengths
Workers who use their strengths on a daily basis are six times more likely to be engaged on the job and three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life than their peers who don't get to do so, according to a Gallup poll. So instead of asking that your tech-loathing but ultra-people-savvy team member be in charge of creating a client-wowing PowerPoint, let them do the talking during the presentation -- and let the gadget-obsessed millennial lead point on the visuals. You're likely to find that letting the division of labor fall along natural lines leads to the best outcome.