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January 24, 2017

Calling time on collaboration woes

Businesses need to be implementing products and applications which give employees the flexibility and choice to work in ways which best suit them as a team.

By James Nunns

In 2017 business desires aren’t going to change, there’s still going to be a drive to be more innovative, more productive, more efficient and more agile.

Trying to achieve these things is commendable but it’s not realistic without first taking stock of how well collaboration happens within your organisations. After all, it’s the main driver for many of these business wants.

Regardless of industry, poor collaboration is an issue, and recent research we conducted at Sharp revealed that it’s an ambition rather than a reality for many UK offices.


Stuart Sykes, Managing Director at Sharp Business Systems UK.

Our survey of 1,000 UK office workers exposed a lack of teamwork and selfish habits blighting businesses across the country.

According to the Center for Digital Business, collaboration is defined as two or more people coming together to create something that they could not have created on their own. But with more people working from home or mobile working, collaborative relationships are becoming more difficult to embrace, with selfish habits amplifying this issue.

We uncovered that almost half of workers in the UK (46%) work with colleagues who forget to share important information or documents with them, meaning wasted time and missed opportunities resulting in potentially lost revenue. The same number (46%) also state that their colleagues talk over others in meetings, making for a disruptive working environment.

Despite noticing these selfish traits in their colleagues, over a quarter of UK workers (26%) prefer to do nothing about the problem, 21% like to leave a note in a communal area and 20% email their colleagues to complain. But watch out if you work in IT – one in five said they secretly email colleagues’ bosses to point out their failings.

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Most of us will recognise these behaviours as a part of office life, which could appear easier to live with rather than trying to change. However, there’s a serious issue behind these findings too. If your business isn’t setup to promote teamwork and the sharing of information, you will be losing opportunities to grow. How much of the information that workers are forgetting to share could have led to new business, saved costs or inspired a new idea? Collaboration is essential for a happier, creative and more productive workforce.

At Sharp we spoke with workplace strategist and change manager, Dr Nigel Oseland, about this problem: “There are usually three key factors which contribute to how well collaboration can happen within a business – people, space and technology. For people to better collaborate together it comes down to how well they understand and appreciate each other’s personalities and different ways of working, as a more diverse mix of people typically will be a more successful team.

They also need to understand each other’s motivators, gain trust and share mutual respect. However, even the best team in the world can’t work together productively if they don’t have the right tools in place. It’s important that organisations bear this in mind and make sure they provide their staff with the appropriate technology and complementary spaces which will encourage them to be collaborative across a range of working environments.”

Worryingly, businesses could also be bringing this collaboration deficit on themselves, as 45% of workers think that the technology in their office actually makes it more difficult to share information. Considering half of workers (50%) also ignore problems with the communal office technology, businesses will need to act fast to ensure that teams can still use technology to work together.

The fact that technology could be hindering collaboration when it is so ubiquitous in our lives could almost be comical, more than anything it illustrates the importance of ensuring the right technology is in place. Businesses need to be implementing products and applications which give employees the flexibility and choice to work in ways which best suit them as a team. This is the one surefire way to reap the rewards that collaboration promises.


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