How-to create a collaborative culture at work

By Randi Sherman

6 min read

How-to create a collaborative culture at work
Illustration by Maya Ramadhina

Collaboration is the cornerstone of innovation. Almost every workforce is collaborative in some way, but it’s not always part of the company’s culture. A collaborative culture believes that teams are stronger when they leverage the strengths of many instead of relying on individual efforts and skills to complete a project. 

When team members can lean on others and focus on what they do best, they are more productive, innovative, and invested in the outcome. Being a part of something bigger than oneself is just one aspect, but it’s significant when team-based efforts produce spectacular results that would not have been possible otherwise. 

Today, we’ll discuss collaborative culture, the benefits of prioritizing it, and strategies for implementing it in your organization. 

Benefits of collaborative culture

Employees are happier and feel more accomplished when they succeed in their jobs. Thus, fostering a collaborative culture can lead to greater employee happiness, retention, and bottom-line value that helps companies grow. 

A collaborative culture offers benefits that resonate throughout the organization, including: 

  • Enhanced teamwork and cooperation. A collaborative culture builds team trust as people know they can rely on their teammates to help them succeed—and vice versa. 
  • Increased creativity and innovation. Collaboration invites diverse perspectives and viewpoints, making products and projects better. 
  • Improved problem-solving and decision-making. Collaborative projects rarely get stuck as there are many skillsets and talents to draw upon. 
  • Boosted employee engagement and satisfaction. Working together on projects provides a sense of accomplishment and motivates employees to do their best. 

Collaborative employees are happier, more engaged, and more productive than they would be working alone. They feel more connected to the mission and know they are a part of the company’s success, leading to increased job satisfaction. Happy employees reflect well on the employer brand and may also improve recruitment initiatives. 

All in all, there are no downsides to having a collaborative culture. Ergo, it’s in any company’s best interest to lay the groundwork to make it possible. 

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Building blocks of a collaborative culture

So, what are the attributes of a collaborative culture? Let’s have a look. 

Open and transparent communication

Transparency builds trust, inviting honesty and openness in communication. Employees must feel encouraged to share their perspectives and know they will be heard and considered.

Consistency is critical here, as employees need to be well informed to do their jobs. While there is sure to be sensitive company intel that isn’t widely shared, organizational changes, market influence, and company news affect everyone, so it’s critical to establish a platform to make such information available. 

Employee success platforms like Jostle provide a central hub for communication and relevant content, along with tools to help leaders push out company news and announcements, recognize excellence, and offer frictionless opportunities to connect. 

Trust and psychological safety

True collaboration requires trust. Collaborators must feel safe sharing their thoughts and ideas and know their input is welcomed, encouraged, and valued. Genuine trust doesn’t just happen, however. Managers and leaders must build relationships first, as trust can’t happen without these foundations. Once team members trust each other, they can better interact in ways that benefit the overarching goals. 

Shared goals and objectives

A shared focus is essential to collaboration. Otherwise, employees work independently with little thought to what others are doing or where the project may fall short. Having a common goal brings people together as they draw upon each other’s experience and skills to solve problems and improve the project as they see it through to completion. Team members are always more invested when there is collective buy-in to the goals they are working towards. Consequentially, everyone will work harder to ensure success. 

Empowerment and autonomy

Even when there is trust within the group, leaders must empower teams by trusting them to do their best work. A little autonomy goes a long way, increasing engagement, motivation, and improved decision-making. Freedom to act aside, true empowerment can’t happen unless employees have the tools they need to do their jobs. For example, a centralized communication platform, access to relevant content, and productivity tools integrated into a shared workspace simplify interactions and ensure all team members are on a level playing field whether they are working in the office or remotely

Strategies for promoting collaboration

Now that we have a framework to describe a collaborative culture, let’s look at the essential building blocks you must implement to ensure success. 

1. Leadership support and modeling

All aspects of company culture start from the top. Leading by example is the best way to demonstrate commitment to a collaborative culture, so building a management team to support these goals is critical. Reward leaders who demonstrate their commitment to a collaborative culture, as this will inspire others to take up the charge. 

2. Creating collaborative spaces

Physical workspaces play a pivotal role in fostering collaboration. Design cross-functional spaces to support collaboration. Provide plenty of whiteboards, audio-visual tools, interactive screens, or whatever is appropriate for your teams and their tasks. For remote and hybrid teams, virtual platforms are also vital. Teams should be able to continue their projects seamlessly from wherever they are working without compromising technology or connectivity with their teammates. 

3. Team building activities and workshops

Organizing team activities outside the workspace is an excellent way for employees to get to know each other personally. Team building exercises that require strategy help to build trust and bring people closer as they learn each other’s strengths. Workshops and training sessions are also great ways to unite teams as they provide a platform for discussion based on a common objective. 

4. Cross-functional collaboration

Cross-functional teams can supercharge results. Case in point: sales and marketing are separate departments, but their work is symbiotic. When the two are aligned, marketing can feed sales the content they need, and sales can help marketing understand customer sentiment so they can improve their messaging. When disparate departments and teams can visualize the bigger picture, they will work together to ensure everyone succeeds. 

5. Technology for collaboration

The right software is essential to support a collaborative culture. Ideally, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for employees to be able to do their jobs. Provide them with a platform that integrates the software they most use, including communication, content creation, and project management tools so they can do their work, connect with their teammates, and keep projects moving forward. 

Overcoming challenges in building a collaborative culture

Establishing a collaborative culture doesn’t just happen. If you’re starting at a disadvantage, such as if your culture is inherently disconnected, it will take vision, dedication, and consistency to manifest change. 

Employees need to trust that the collaborative process will be good for them. Circling back to some of the building blocks mentioned earlier in the article, transparency and autonomy are essential. 

There are bound to be disagreements, but when managers and leaders are committed to active resolution, conflict can be mitigated. It’s critical to address conflict when it occurs and not to allow it to fester. 

Final thoughts on building a collaborative culture

Fostering a culture of collaboration might take some effort. Still, with the right approach, technology, and leadership, your teams will thrive beyond what would be possible if every employee worked independently. Shared purpose is a powerful thing. When we nurture a culture of collaboration, we enable our teams and the company in countless ways. 


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Randi Sherman

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