A Digital Workplace for successful teams

25. September 2017 Pedro Brägger Culture, Teamwork, Workspace

Is a Digital Workplace changing the way how teams work together?

The world of work is changing rapidly, thanks to new types of work and communication enabled by technical advances. The introduction of digital workplaces has also changed the way that teams work.

Traditionally, a ‘team’ was defined as a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. But we all know that a team is more than that. A good team can be a family; a familiar place where we spend the majority of our professional lives.

The company canteen, the coffee machine and group meetings are all popular places to cultivate interpersonal connections. But how do we structure teamwork in a digital workplace where people can collaborate in various ways independent of their locations? On which factors does successful teamwork depend?

The factors on which teamwork depends

Google recently carried out a wide-ranging study, Project Aristotle, and discovered the key factors on which teamwork depends. We’ve summarised the five key findings:

Psychological security

Team members need to feel free to contribute their ideas and to take risks. In order to do so, they have to be sure that they won’t be condemned if their idea doesn’t work out as planned.

Reliability

Every team member must deliver high-quality work while adhering to the agreed deadlines, and other team members need to be able to rely on this.

Clear goals, clear directions

A clear direction and clear goals are very important. Every team member needs to understand their role and the tasks involved in it.

Meaningful work

Satisfied employees who see the purpose of their work perform better and achieve more.

Impact of work

Employees want to see the impact their work is having within the company.

Promoting teamwork in a Digital Workplace

The Google study gets to the heart of the matter: be kind and respectful; pay attention to your colleagues and their ideas – and your teamwork will succeed. Now, we want to know how modern collaboration software can effectively strengthen the key factors described above. In this article, we take a closer look at three factors and how they can translate to the digital workplace.

Psychological security and workspaces
It’s not always easy to reveal your ideas in front of your colleagues. The more people that hear them, the higher the perceived risk of being held responsible for a failure. Many people find it easier to exchange ideas in smaller groups – something that digital workspaces are well-suited for.

The definition of a workspace: A workspace is a location comparable to a studio. In this space, the team members have access to all the tools that they require for their project, and can also communicate among themselves about it. In order to enter this secure space, they require authorisation. For example, an external service provider (graphic designer, copywriter) can be given access to a workspace and can then work together directly with the team. Even if the team members are sometimes based in different locations, they can always meet in this workspace. Direct communication channels via chat promote communication among the team and create an ideal breeding ground for innovative ideas.

Workspaces generate small, highly-efficient and creative cells within companies, which then ensure high output. A key requirement here is that ideas exchanged within a workspace aren’t suddenly made public. Clear rules are needed to govern what information may be used how, when and where throughout the company. If employees are constantly concerned that their unorthodox initiatives or critical comments from the team chat will end up reaching the CEO, they will withdraw and the company will lose valuable capital.

In short, a workspace is more than just an abstract, digital room. A workspace is a team’s home – and if employees feel at home, they will be more open and communicative. However, this space also requires binding ‘house rules’ for all parties regarding communication, work schedules (‘always at work’ problem) and data use. This is the only way to create the necessary psychological security within the workspace to foster the team’s productivity and innovation.

Promoting teamwork in a Digital Workplace

The Google study gets to the heart of the matter: be kind and respectful; pay attention to your colleagues and their ideas – and your teamwork will succeed. Now, we want to know how modern collaboration software can effectively strengthen the key factors described above. In this article, we take a closer look at three factors and how they can translate to the digital workplace.

Psychological security and workspaces

It’s not always easy to reveal your ideas in front of your colleagues. The more people that hear them, the higher the perceived risk of being held responsible for a failure. Many people find it easier to exchange ideas in smaller groups – something that digital workspaces are well-suited for.

The definition of a workspace: A workspace is a location comparable to a studio. In this space, the team members have access to all the tools that they require for their project, and can also communicate among themselves about it. In order to enter this secure space, they require authorisation. For example, an external service provider (graphic designer, copywriter) can be given access to a workspace and can then work together directly with the team. Even if the team members are sometimes based in different locations, they can always meet in this workspace. Direct communication channels via chat promote communication among the team and create an ideal breeding ground for innovative ideas.

Workspaces generate small, highly-efficient and creative cells within companies, which then ensure high output. A key requirement here is that ideas exchanged within a workspace aren’t suddenly made public. Clear rules are needed to govern what information may be used how, when and where throughout the company. If employees are constantly concerned that their unorthodox initiatives or critical comments from the team chat will end up reaching the CEO, they will withdraw and the company will lose valuable capital.

In short, a workspace is more than just an abstract, digital room. A workspace is a team’s home – and if employees feel at home, they will be more open and communicative. However, this space also requires binding ‘house rules’ for all parties regarding communication, work schedules (‘always at work’ problem) and data use. This is the only way to create the necessary psychological security within the workspace to foster the team’s productivity and innovation.

Reliability – or how to create a workflow booster

We generally assume that reliability is the result of intrinsic motivation and therefore cannot be produced through pressure or threat of sanctions in the long term. However, motivated employees still appreciate support when it comes to organising projects and managing their tasks.

A major benefit of a high-performance collaboration platform is the integrated project management tool. This tool assists in assigning tasks to team members and incorporating them into a timeline. All team members have an overview of which tasks are assigned to which individual and which are in progress or already finished.

While this transparency is generally positive, it can also present difficulties. On the one hand, it can be motivating to be able to visualise the progress of each team member; on the other, the pressure on a single person can become very intense if they are unable to complete their task on time. In this situation, the project manager should investigate the cause, as factors such as restricted resources and goal dependence often play a decisive role in delays.

In practical terms, reliability is the result of both a positive attitude to work, and professional planning combined with appropriate work tools. Together with motivated team members, a proprietary project management tool can become a real workflow booster.

More meaningful work

Committed employees and teams may lose motivation if made to do unnecessary work. For example, a team of well-paid specialists may be tasked with designing a product similar to those already produced throughout the company. However, restricted thinking and a lack of communications technology prevents this team from making use of the expertise the company already possesses. This causes frustration and costs the company unnecessary work hours.

A modern collaboration platform solves this problem with centralised data management and systematic tagging of content. Tagged content is accessible to and can be made use of by all employees via the search function. In this way, the company avoids unnecessary costs and doesn’t demotivate its employees with Sisyphean tasks.