Collaboration is quite probably the buzzword of the moment. The rationale is an obvious one. We know much more collectively than we do individually, so therefore it makes sense to collaborate as much as possible, be that with colleagues within your organisation or with people outside of it.
I wrote earlier this year about some of the collaboration pitfalls you can fall into, such as misdiagnosing the problem, overestimating the costs and over hyping the potential outcomes.
So it’s interesting to read a new report published this week by Gensler on the modern workplace that found a marked reduction in the amount of collaboration being done.
The report, which consisted of a survey of over 2000 office workers in the US, looked to unearth what it was that made them happy and productive at work.
It found that people are spending more time on focused, individual tasks than they were just five years ago. What’s more, over half of respondents said that their colleagues were often a distraction at work, and disrupted their need to focus. Respondents also believed that collaborative work was less productive than when working on their own.
The key, according to the survey at least, is to design a workplace that provides a balance between collaboration and tight focus. Such workplaces are not only more productive, but they also ensure employees have a positive perception of their employer. The survey found that employees from such an environment ranked their employer highly in every measurement category, including the encouragement of innovation and creativity at work.
It underlines the importance of ensuring any collaboration you do has a clear end point in mind. There is an awful lot of research on the negative affect of open plan offices on concentration levels, so the study is a timely reminder that if you want to encourage the right behaviours at work, you have to provide people with the kind of environment that encourages those behaviours.