The Future of Collaboration
Facing a global pandemic and a pressing need to transition to a more sustainable world means that working effectively together has never been more important and challenging. The shared desire to overcome coronavirus and save our planet is stimulating innovation and opening our minds to how we can help each other towards these common goals.
We have already seen many examples of positive collaboration over the past 12 months with scientists sharing knowledge to develop a vaccine, businesses adapting to supply healthcare products and infrastructure, and communities and individuals pooling together to support those in need.
Looking to how we can improve collaboration from a business perspective, we can separate this into two areas:
- Internal collaboration
- External collaboration
Working from home can make us feel lonely and cause our work relationships to suffer, but also can have positive benefits as people are more contactable whilst working from home and we can invest time speaking over video that would otherwise have been spent commuting:
- Invest in technology – Ensure their staff is comfortable working from home and well connected including cameras, lighting, microphones, internet and general office equipment (or money towards these).
- Video made the norm – Try to use video as a first port-of-call. Facial expressions and body language make communicating more enjoyable and productive, not to mention the cute pets in the background.
- Make time for socialising – Each week, time should be dedicated to non-working get together to foster relationships and take our minds off work. For example, we have a master of fun (Will Adams) who organises an activity for the Tonic Team to do each week.
We need to share ideas and pool resources, as no one business or idea is going to tackle climate change and other important issues alone:
- Virtual conferences and live streams – these are a great way to share information and build business relationships with others in your industry
- Collaboration mindset – always be open to how competitors can become allies: can you make a bigger impact by developing a technology or project together with a company who specialises in a complementary area? Or gain mutual benefit from sharing information?
- Pool resources – many of our clients have benefitted from saving money by outsourcing tasks whilst giving opportunities to others to be involved in exciting projects
Personally, I have already experienced first-hand an increased willingness to collaborate, for example sharing ideas with ex-colleagues on how to get through a difficult business year in 2020. Since video calling became more normal, I have suggested one to anyone I am dealing with in a business or personal context which has meant I am enjoying meeting a lot more people face to face to build meaningful relationships.
I hope that one positive result from the pandemic can be an increased level of collaboration which can help us solve other problems in the future such as the energy transition and mental health in addition to improving our relationships.