2 min read

Together? Apart? Collaborative Options for Post-Covid Workplace

 

Together apart

While many of us conceive of collaboration in a very formal sense that involves a team sitting around a table, working to accomplish one common group objective, the truth is, most of us are collaborating in myriad ways throughout our entire workday - and sometimes we don’t even realize it. Certainly different types of work can be best accomplished through particular styles of collaboration - and often we do this intuitively. Need an answer from a peer? Pick up the phone. Need group consensus on something before moving forward? Call a meeting. But sometimes, our intuition overlooks effective collaboration options - particularly if they’re formats or tools that we’re not familiar with. Want to provide opportunities for diverse team members to maximize their confidence and ability to contribute to the team? Consider collaboration options beyond the status quo. 

    1. Working Together: Meetings might be the most frequently thought of method for collaboration. Whether they’re held in person (together-together)  or virtually (together-apart), this format can be extremely productive- for the right people, and the right purpose. People with a preference for extraversion, and who are members of well-represented identity groups tend to excel in these highly vocal, participatory environments. It’s also a great format for presenting information and coming to a decision with all group members. But, we’ve all had days of back-to-back meetings, and left some of those meetings thinking, this did not need to take an hour out of my day. So don’t stop there!

    2. Apart Together: Meetings are great for forming consensus, brainstorming, and instant input. But what about ongoing work? Or for those people who prefer more quiet time or thinking time before participation? Newer, and frequently evolving technology is making it easier than ever to support different ways to collaborate. Take Mural, for example, a virtual whiteboard that allows team members who are separated physically and temporally to share their ideas and work in the same virtual space. Tools like this can allow people to think through ideas and complete work in the setting that is best-suited for them before contributing. Sometimes known as “apart-together” promoting and encouraging the use of similar tools supports more inclusive collaboration that allows the space and time for greater participation among diverse groups. If your team hasn’t used tools like this before, why not suggest one that’s well-suited for your team?

    3. Apart Apart: Perhaps the most overlooked style of collaboration, “apart-apart” provides opportunities for individuals to work on shared projects in their own space and on their own time. And, in well-established teams, sometimes this is the easiest and best solution. Working apart-apart allows each member of the team to complete individual tasks related to the group purpose and then to disseminate their outcomes to the team via email, chat, or in a shared intranet or document. Are people physically working together? No. But when roles and guidelines are clearly established, team members can function in a highly independent manner, and still yield a successful collaborative outcome. 

Regardless of your preferred style - or even the preferred style of the majority of the team - the truth is, there are endless ways to collaborate. Being open to exploring different tools, methods, styles, and encouraging each member of the team to do the same can open the door for greater participation - and by extension - greater outcomes.

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