By: Cole Rieben

Collaboration Is King

July 26, 2016 4 minutes

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Having a successful digital marketing strategy can involve many different online marketing channels like social, email, referral, or organic. Many companies and teams establish strategies for each unique channel but they tend to be siloed. This can lead to decreases in productivity and cohesive campaigning. With so many different ways to drive business growth online, it’s very easy to drive wedges between departments and teams who ultimately share the same goals but take different paths to get there. At 97th Floor, we do our best to check ourselves and look for ways to reduce friction in innovation and driving results. We strive to maintain a collaborative environment to produce results and master our profession.

Last July, 97th Floor became a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). While many would think leaving schedules and workplaces up to employees would hinder collaboration, it actually forced each of us to be better about how we communicate and collaborate. The following are a few initiatives that helped various employees and teams improve collaboration and communication, and ultimately made the best of a Results Only Work Environment at 97th Floor.

Adapt & Adopt

Communication plays a prominent role in creating a collaborative work environment. Many of us find that we are more productive at different times, and in different places. This presents the first major barrier today’s teams face in collaborating: logistics. The great part about the world we live in now is that team members don’t need to be one desk or one office away to team up and share ideas. There are a myriad of applications and online tools that support collaboration. It just comes down to adapting to team member’s needs and adopting a tool or set of tools that can facilitate the level of communication needed.

There is no doubt that face to face interaction presents optimal outcomes for communicating. With 93% of success in communication being attributed to non-verbal factors, many prefer communicating in person. However, since we live in an era where “type it” over “saying it” is the preference, it’s important that we facilitate all forms of communication. This is even more true with so much of the work force being dominated by Millennials. In fact 49% of Millennials support social tools for workplace collaboration. Our team loves to use Slack for initial ideation and then meet in person, video conference, or call in for the capstone meeting that establishes assignments and plan of action. It’s crucial with today’s workforce to find ways of fusing technology and communication to drive collaboration.

Support One Another

Nothing can block the fluidity of effective collaboration faster than a negative or overly critical team member. Sharing increases when thoughtful feedback is given. Senseless and insensitive remarks will reduce innovation and over time, kill open collaboration. Feedback is a strong tool for good or bad, and when used for good, can breed innovation and cohesion. I have found that tunnel vision while collaborating is a real plague. Shooting ideas or thoughts down before they’re developed is one of the best ways to introduce silos in the workplace. Getting better at feedback is a great foundation for being more supportive through collaboration. Here are a few ideas for improving your ability to give feedback:

  • Be consistent
  • Be objectively frank
  • Avoid using “but” or any other value reducing transitional words
  • Add value with suggestions and solutions with the overall focus of improvement

Customize Your Space

Since I have worked at 97th Floor, I have become more familiar with how my surroundings and work space affect my productivity. Personally, I thrive in open environments that lack solitude and contain some sort of non interfering commotion. However, some of my other coworkers thrive in complete solitude. In a Results Only Work Environment, we have the flexibility to choose a workplace that drives the most production leading to quality results. What I enjoy most about our office space is the open floor plan which entices cross team collaboration, with no cubicles in sight. The office is just one provided resource for collaborating that is preferred by many.

Additionally, I know of coworkers that prefer to work at Starbucks. Some prefer to work at an office in their home. In an effort to customize a workspace as a team, we will sometimes choose to meetup in a new place. I have found that fresh environments stimulate creativity and cohesive collaboration. 97th Floor isn’t the only company making strides here, studies show that the average amount of space per employee nationwide, in all industries, has dropped to 250 square feet from 400 square feet in 1985.

Internal Mentorship Program

To improve cross team and departmental collaboration, 97th Floor began an internal mentorship program. The program starts with coworkers choosing who they would like to meet up with at a predetermined velocity, usually 1 – 3 times a month. These meetups vary in duration, but range from 30 minutes to an hour. The purpose of each meetup is entirely up to the mentee who may choose to:

  • Learn more about the mentor’s role
  • Brainstorm solutions to work related problems
  • Learn new functions from the mentor as to broaden skill set

It has been great to see coworkers collaborate that might not have done so without facilitating meetups through a program like this. Collaboration between teams and departments has improved. Trust and unity between coworkers have increased which creates a stronger collaborative environment.

At 97th Floor, we take pride in our work which is derived from team cohesion. The keystone to becoming a more collaborative company is constant and innovative evolution. Knowing that there is always room for improvement and employing new techniques often is crucial for success. Being aware of silos isn’t enough, but taking action and initiative to break them down has established collaborative teams and a productive environment. As collaboration has improved at 97th Floor, I have seen new employees get up to speed faster, transitions happen more fluidly, and increases in overall innovation.

Written by Cole Rieben on July 26, 2016

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