Collaboration: A Help or a Hinderance?

by hatch quarter

Speculation gets thrown around about whether collaboration really is an idea generator or if it simply stands in the way of getting stuff done. Sharing knowledge is one of our foundational values at Hatch Quarter, so we decided to do some research into why the value of collaboration sometimes comes into question and how you can best use teamwork to your advantage.

When Collaboration Goes Wrong

Critics of collaboration usually put forward two main arguments:

  1. When you oblige staff to collaborate their efficiency suffers and you add to their distractions.
  2. A significant number of people work better individually.

These may seem like pretty good reasons to drop collaboration off your agenda, but there are also some great reasons not to give up yet. As Collective Next argues, the issues really aren’t that different to challenges that can occur in traditional work settings anyway. They suggest that critics of collaboration are usually, “describing … nuisances that almost everybody who’s ever had a job has suffered: common distractions, inefficiency, poor planning, and poor time management.” If this is the case, most companies should already have strategies in place to combat time wasting, intimidating hierarchies and other productivity-killing problems.

Collaboration Leads to Innovation

Most people believe that if they can innovate they get ahead, and their desire to do this has quickly increased in the era of technology. Global CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman said in a report with Campaign Asia “for traditional companies like us, in the past we can innovate at least once in a few years; now if we don’t do that within a six- to 12-month period we will be toast,” Polman said. How do companies like Unilever plan to enhance their chances of forming new ideas quickly? Collaboration. Unilever has recently co-launched a collaborative workplace, which houses around 15 startup tech companies. The office is designed to assist people to come together to compare their ideas and form new ones rapidly. The company believes its strategy and planning are enough to ensure that this works.

Getting Collaboration Right

At Hatch Quarter, we’ve noticed the advantages of collaboration both within and between businesses. Sharing ideas in an open forum has led to work being done more efficiently, new partnerships forming and businesses being able to offer even more value to their clients.

There are four main reasons why we think it works:

1) Residents working together on projects are presented with a win-win situation

Groups work together on a project because they each offer something that the other can’t. Everyone is trusted to deliver their tasks, and valued for their different skills. Since their skills do not compete with each other there is less chance for conflicts to arise and get in the way of the success of the project.

2) Shared work environments promote healthy co-operative thinking and practices

Break out areas are great to keep group discussions at a distance from the main work area. This means that people can easily get together to discuss their ideas, but it also respects the need to do individual work most of the time. A relaxed setting helps people enjoy their work more, and zones where people can chill-out help them connect with the space in more

3) Events expand on collaborative instincts

Co-working spaces are a hub for entrepreneurs, who bring along their love of networking and events. Hosting events at your co-working office can really help you emphasise the team-working values inherent in the communal design plan in an exciting social context

4) Culture exudes focus, attention and healthy competition

An open plan office builds a sense of community. It can also create a mild or healthy sense of competition, or the desire to look good in front of the other residents. In essence, companies may feel more like representatives of their services, roles and industries when they inhabit a shared space.

Co-working environments can become the centre of a productive, innovative and positive model for business. A large part of the incentive to collaborate is to do with innovation and efficiency. It just takes the right planning, leadership and design to get the most out of group get-togethers.

Want more information about collaboration? Chat to us about our productive business ecosystem and innovation hub.

Written by Jessica Locke, Creative Writer at Mo Works Creative Agency