We’re all aware by now that the way we’re working is changing rapidly and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With 82% of people reporting home to be their primary working location, there is a clear shift away from the traditional working spaces. While employees can enjoy the multiple benefits that remote working can bring, it poses a whole new challenge in the way that teams and businesses collaborate. With 76% of workers citing it as a direct factor in influencing how a company’s culture develops, there’s no doubt how important collaboration can be.
Sharing ideas is nothing new for businesses, and business collaboration is more important than ever in our increasingly connected world. Whether it’s internal or external, sharing skills while working towards a shared goal allows both innovation and partnerships to grow. The various types of business collaboration provide plenty of opportunities to foster key working relationships and produce the best outcomes possible. By keeping communications open, that culture of collaboration can thrive and generate as much success as possible for all collaborators.
What is business collaboration?
Business collaboration, to put it simply, is when organisations utilise the existing internal and external relationships to generate new ideas, find practical solutions, and ultimately accomplish a shared objective. Open and honest communications allow productivity to flow continuously, and in this emerging era of remote working, these methods of communication are more vital than ever.
The brilliant thing about collaboration is that various skill sets and perspectives come together to provide fresh new ways of working and achieving their goals. Sharing knowledge and resources that would usually be out of reach gives businesses the chance to expand into new markets. But we can easily cover the multiple benefits that effective business collaboration can bring later.
To demonstrate its versatility, business collaboration can come in different types that each serves its own purpose. These include:
- Strategic alliance, which sees two or more firms combine their resources together in an effort to reach a shared goal
- A portfolio that puts one business at the heart of a broad collaboration of multiple, smaller partners and assumes responsibility for how the collaboration is managed
- Coopetition, which fosters a harmonious, but ultimately still competitive, relationship between collaborating companies
- An ecosystem of stakeholders that create long-term and interdependent relationships that stretches across the supply chain
Business collaboration is utilised by both large and small enterprises, with each of these aspiring companies looking to take full advantage of a culture that celebrates innovation and working towards a shared goal. So, what are these benefits then?
The benefits of business collaboration
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again; when businesses come together to collaborate, innovation thrives. With so many skill sets and levels of experience coming together to work towards a common goal, collaborators can learn from one another’s different perspectives and start to develop new approaches to the task at hand. New, creative ideas can provide an impetus for future projects and allow these collaborative forces to explore brand new markets to expand into.
On that thought, partaking in business collaboration allows these organisations to access new markets and expand their customer base. Smaller enterprises may struggle to break into new sectors if they were operating solely, but if two or more companies were sharing their time and resources, there’s a greater chance that they can reach new customers more effectively. Business collaboration gives these companies an added advantage in scale and expertise, as they combine their strengths in certain areas to become more competitive and expand their existing professional networks.
With markets becoming more competitive themselves, it’s vital for businesses to build trust and credibility with both existing and potential customers. Collaborating alongside a business that has already gained a positive reputation in one market allows the other to leverage that existent trust and start to enhance their own standing with customers. Indeed, if the products provided meet customer standards, the credibility of the collaboration is assured and gives customers a reason to put their faith in these companies in future circumstances.
The best thing about collaborating with another business is not just sharing knowledge and resources, but also saving on time and expenses. Workflows are streamlined, and having more bodies on deck means that focus can be spread right across the project, rather than moving from one job to the next. No time is wasted, with collaboration potentially saving employees 5-10% of their time while working towards a shared goal. Collaborating alongside another business presents the opportunity to split costs in particular departments, with this cost-effectiveness also being seen as resources are combined and shared.
As knowledge and resources are shared, employees can enjoy a whole new level in productivity. An environment that supports collaboration allows data to flow seamlessly from one business to another, especially if they are utilising a unified communications solution. Real-time sharing means that no time is wasted waiting on responses, which allows projects to be completed within the set schedule and avoid any potential stress in meeting deadlines. Now that’s certainly a relief!
These benefits, and more, are all waiting to be enjoyed by companies that are willing to engage in business collaboration. But before diving headfirst into a collaborative project alongside another business, there are factors to consider. What your business needs is a clear and effective strategy that gets the most out of business collaboration, regardless of which form it comes in.
The importance of building a strategy for success
Much like with team collaboration, it’s integral to craft a strategy that allows business collaboration to thrive. An internal culture that promotes collaboration between employees brings its own wealth of benefits, including increased employee engagement and retaining top talent, which can be seen by the 17% rise in satisfaction when employees engage in collaborative work. Establishing that mindset of working together towards a shared goal allows external collaboration to become a more attractive option as businesses look to move from strength to strength alongside like-minded peers.
Having built that base to let collaboration and innovation sprout, it’s important to define your goals and determine the reasons why your business wants to collaborate in the first place. This is vital, since having no clear measure of what success looks like means that any work can’t be properly assessed. Defining goals must be done with your potential collaboration partners as well, because if nobody has any idea what they want to achieve, all prior work may become null and void since each collaborator wants something different out of the project.
As your business begins to work with another, it’s important to make sure that communication is always clear. Being truthful with what your workforce can offer from the start gives a clearer picture of what kind of value your organisation can bring to the collaborative effort. As the project progresses, regular updates allow a better understanding of what’s working and what needs addressing. Making sure that any potential problems are noticed and rectified early ensures that they don’t become too much of a burden as collaboration continues. By staying connected, collaboration can continue and is constantly meeting the needs of each stakeholder.
Having a reliable collaboration strategy in place ensures that common challenges can be easily overcome. The threat of conflicting interests and a lack of alignment between teams can make collaboration difficult if there isn’t a level of trust and respect already in place. Building trust remotely can be difficult, especially when 70% of communication is non-verbal, and an email can be easily misinterpreted. Cloud-enabled video calls can enable better communication, and its cost-effective nature means that teams can spend more time getting to know one another without the silent threat of steep bills. Overall, it’s all about making communication more human.
That notion of building trust and respect ensures that individuality can be promoted, and each team member’s working styles can seamlessly fit into the project. It’s important to accommodate each personality type and ensure that their voices are heard. Extroverts can enjoy getting their points across through video collaboration, while those who are more inclined to be introverted can make comments in a group chat to make sure that their opinions are rightly acknowledged and discussed. Through either medium, collaboration can continue.
A foundation of trust enables efficient conflict resolution if constructive dialogue is allowed to flow between businesses. With goals clearly defined and stated, each organisation knows what is expected of them, negating the possibility of a clash of interests that can cause productivity to come to an abrupt halt. There’s no risk of projects lacking vision or direction if there is a clear roadmap to what this business collaboration is aiming to achieve.
There are, of course, challenges to the notion of remote working, whether within or with other businesses. Organisations still lack a clear guide on how hybrid working should be done, and there now appears to be a shift in attitude towards a return to the office as the working-from-home illusion apparently fades. It’s important that these remote workers avoid the potential problem of burnout through particular actions that preserve a strong sense of mental wellbeing. Again, installing a clear mindset in how to work effectively in the remote working era can prove to be beneficial when collaborating with colleagues, and feeling involved makes sure that you get the most out of business collaboration.
The power of business collaboration
The global team collaboration software market is set to increase to $40.8 billion by 2028, with collaboration tools and software set to play a major role in how businesses collaborate going forward. There’s no doubt that UCaaS and the benefits it generates for businesses are instrumental in efficient collaboration, and having platforms such as instant messaging and social media management in one place can make working far easier. If businesses can find ways to make working more efficient, then they should make it a priority to implement solutions that make it a reality.
When businesses pursue different avenues of collaboration, whether it’s network collaboration or via the cloud, technology can be pivotal in how successful these projects will be. Since 80% of SMEs have seen their revenue negatively affected by the pandemic, it’s critical to understand what business collaboration can mean for organisations. Having technology that works means efficient collaboration can be achieved with ease, allowing for stronger partnerships to be formed and opening up the opportunity to drive further growth. By choosing to collaborate alongside other businesses, we all have the chance to build stronger.