In this past year and half, while many of us have been working from home and have been physically separated from our colleagues and peers, it has been easy to see how we can become isolated and siloed. But, rather than accepting this as a natural consequence, we’ve found creative solutions for successful collaboration in the workplace, mostly through incredible—and necessitated—advancements in technology.
“Adapt, adapt, adapt,” as they say.
The most obvious here are the services that offer video meetings. This option has been around for decades, but until recently was underutilized and the landscape underpopulated. Today, whether via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google DUO or Meet, Skype, or Facetime, the result of a face-to-face interaction is profound when compared to just a simple phone call or email. Expressions, smiles, gestures, and social cues all enhance the visual collaboration experience and provide the next best thing to being in a room together.
Team chat tools are another way to stay connected when walking to the next cubicle or tapping someone on the shoulder isn’t an option. Slack is the most common, but there’s also Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and a host of others that facilitate quick conversations and answers without delay.
Digital whiteboards for sharing work and visual collaboration—think InVision, Miro, Mural, and the like—have probably come the longest way to replacing the experience of sitting around a conference table, comparing ideas, or tacking paper mockups to corkboards for comments and feedback.
It’s really amazing what we can achieve if “the way we’ve always done it” is removed from the equation!
This is not meant to be an advertisement for all of these tech companies, but more a celebration of our need for successful collaboration in the workplace and the ingenuity we’ve tapped into to make sure we still can—no matter where we are.
As a result, through these virtual tools, many organizations have been able to not just keep their cultures intact, but also help them thrive. There’s a sense of camaraderie in collaboration. It engages teams in problem solving, as well as day-to-day activities; it encourages participation, contribution, and belonging; and it brings teams closer, helping them feel united toward goals and solutions.
If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that the need for connection is palpable. Companies that have acknowledged this and have pulled out every tool in their toolbox to make sure their people can still interface, interact, and interdepend are the ones that will emerge stronger in the end.