Teamwork and collaboration are key to any business staying ahead of the curve in an ever-changing digital economy. The good news is that digital workplace tools also help teams overcome the obstacles and challenges related to working more collaboratively. Crystal clear, right?
Let’s dig a bit deeper. While anyone at a company is just a click away from signing up to cloud-based tools and setting up digital workflows for their team, making sure everyone is onboarded with the tool and in sync with said workflows comes with further challenges.
We looked towards the Nordic cluster for some answers as it is one of the most advanced regions in the world both from a technological and societal standpoint. Sweden ranks 1/162 in the Good Country Index , whilst Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland are all in the top ranks of a recent World Happiness Report and Stockholm has one of the largest startup ecosystem. The secret ingredient to this success? A strong sense of community and a belief in supporting the common good. It only makes sense that these values translate to their workplaces as well.
In a recent survey, we asked our users from the region how to set up successful digital collaboration in the workplace. This is what they told us.
#1 Cross-team communication at the core
The cornerstone of any collaboration is communication. By having everyone involved in a project on the same playing field and then fostering transparent interaction between all team members you really can deliver extraordinary results.
Scandinavia is known for its flat, open, and transparent system in business and government rooted in the consensus style of leadership where everyone is encouraged to have a say in making key decisions. By treating one another with respect while setting clear expectations that everyone must play their part, the group becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Strong interdisciplinary collaboration systems exist between business, start-ups, universities, and research & design institutions. Both Sweden and Finland have universities creating highly skilled graduates and offering training that is complementary to what the private sector is look for in order to leverage R&D output.
So when you develop a sense of shared ownership and give a voice to everyone you can enable interdisciplinary communication and collaboration both internally and externally with customers and a broader professional ecosystem.
With digital tools, you are giving everyone a voice and making communication horizontal which makes it easier for everyone to participate with creative input and contribute to solving problems. For example, Hipchat or Slack let you build rooms and channels around functional teams and bring people together for real-time and ad-hoc conversations. They also include search functionalities to make it easy for everyone to find all the conversations. Trello can be very helpful to bridge gaps between staff members and clientele or stay in the loop on projects and client information.
Saying bye bye to the days where information is siloed opens doors to strong innovations.
#2 Empowerment comes with inspiration
Building a continuously inspiring work culture is key for employee engagement and bringing about positive change. Empowering individuals and teams to be creative pays off not only in increased participation and productivity, but also retention. How does that sound for inspiration?
Nordic countries have been at the forefront of creating systems based on equality, the key for developing a creative ‘can do’ attitude. If you enable people to believe they can get things done successfully, a sense of individual duty to create positive collective impact is put on show, regardless of an employee’s background.
However, not everything should be strictly about work so you might also find that employee engagement success might come from social activities or teams bonding sessions during office hours. Scandinavian countries are known for a culture that values work-life balance. Flexible work hours are common and only 1% of the population works more than 50 hours per week and working remotely is widely accepted.
Nordic countries are also known for their alternative and disruptive education approaches which generates a highly competent workforce. Finland for instance, has an educational system based on a culture that subscribes to the principles of equity, social justice, cooperation and consensus.
So keep the workplace inspiring, people love to experiment and try out new things that may or may not be work-related. Digital tools help open the door to many ways you can keep a team inspired and socializing, no matter where they’re located.
Our Friday Coffee Talks (using live stream + Hipchat channel), is a stage for any Trello employee to share their work and answer questions from the rest of the team. On the other hand, our Mr. Rogers initiative groups people from different teams together regularly to discuss non-work related topics.
#3 Collaborative work culture starts at the top
Creating a collaborative work culture has to start with the decision maker. Leadership has a clear role to provide the best environment in which it can evolve.
In Sweden, leadership at startups such as Spotify and more established corporations such as Mölnlycke have had the ability to see people as a valuable resource that allows them to generate strong growth and profits, while still treating employees fairly and responsibly. Indeed, they’ve proven that profit does not equal paying as little to employees as possible.
There are also many policies in place in Nordic countries that are geared towards increasing transparency of both government and citizen rights, which builds a frequent and trustworthy relationship on all levels. When you worry less about security and having your basic needs met, it is a lot easier to think in terms of opportunities instead of limitations.
Leadership in this digital era needs to put trust first, ensuring employees feel safe, giving flexibility and making it OK to fail. Giving people power will bring extraordinary results in an economy which requires businesses to be agile, people-oriented, innovative, customer-centric, aligned, and efficient. The change from the inside will reflect on the outside and that’s exactly what research tells us, digitalization puts people before technology.
#4 Digital adoption is quicker with a little push
Using digital tools efficiently can have an important impact on collaboration and communication at work.
Since the mid 1980’s all Nordic countries have had ambitious tech adoption plans (according to the 2015 Boston Consulting Group e-intensity index , Denmark is leading global internet economy). They are supported by a strong cultural ecosystem that promotes the universal adoption of technology and provides access to world-class technological education. It is commonly understood by Nordic citizens that technology can enhance many aspects of their life. In turn, they have the potential (and the duty) to positively impact society and create a positive source of future growth using technology. As a result they are often used as test markets by multinationals .
Many of today’s digital tools can save you from complex implementations and take you straight to adoption. However, providing a good framework for using the tools and facilitating training and access to resources can help get everyone on board faster. Leave room for experimentation in the way you use the tools. Remember, stay agile. Refine and improve!
#5 Digital collaboration requires security and risk management
Digital age security needs the involvement of everyone, but someone should take the lead.
The sharing of information and being able to access it at any time from anywhere is key in any digital collaborative process. As businesses become more digital, they are operating and interacting through multiple channels like social and mobile and moving services and data into the cloud.
This brings real business advantages, but it also means that companies are more exposed to cyberattacks and other vulnerabilities. It’s important to devote the necessary time, resources, and expertise to these issues.
Nordic companies, ahead in digitalization, are moving cyber security from being an IT problem to being a much bigger and broader challenge that’s getting the attention of C-Suite executives.
Today, many of the digital tools offer advanced controls by limiting who can be added to your team’s information. You can decide if your traffic goes over encrypted connections (HTTPS) and you can turn on Single Sign-On (SSO) or 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) to make access secure.
In addition to dedicating resources and having knowledge and expertise in-house, if every team member has a sense of ownership in his project and company, they will contribute to a responsible, collaborative, and risk-free digital collaborative work environment.