Collaborative efforts stem from open communication and shared goals. Organizations will structure their business without thinking of the effect it may have on social collaboration.
It’s vital to understand how impactful interactions between teams and leaders can affect the company’s direction or lack thereof.
What Is Social Collaboration?
Social collaboration has multiple definitions, but essentially it’s the process of numerous individuals, groups, teams, or departments interacting with each other to achieve an overall goal.
Discussions about organizational team collaboration aren’t new. Depending on your business structure, you may find shortcomings and limitations to how effective communication can be.
Why Is Social Collaboration Important?
Social collaboration is essential for numerous reasons. Divisions or teams that can communicate increase innovation and productivity, while groups that don’t leave their company in a state of confusion.
Communicating fluidly allows organizations to maintain a structure that can survive an evolving business world. Promoting open communication leaves employees feeling attached to their coworkers, their leaders, and the company’s success.
If the company employees want the business to succeed, they’ll actively contribute their ideas and communication problems within the company to their managers and other coworkers. Conversely, if people couldn’t communicate within the work environment, it would plateau a company.
Benefits Businesses Seek From Social Collaboration
The benefits of collaboration are what business organizations want. The problem is cultivating and promoting this type of effort through their organizational structure.
- Project Understanding
- Knowledge Transfer
- Company Culture
- Better Products
While there are numerous benefits gained from social collaboration, downsides come with it. These benefits stem from proper communication and collaborative efforts, but studies have reported that too much communication can lead to social burnout and anxiety.
There are methods commonly used to cope with workplace anxiety and other issues that arise from an active social environment. Of course, there will be downsides to every strategy, but the collaborative benefits outweigh the few negatives with active team collaboration.
What Business Structures Affect Social Collaboration?
While multiple factors affect social collaboration, it’s important to note that a few common business structures heavily impact how teams and groups of people communicate with each other.
In a standard organizational chart, employees will report to a manager, and that manager will report to the owner of the business or group of executives.
This structure allows a flow of communication that provides collaboration vertically. However, the downside of this type of collaboration is that translation up and down the chain can become skewed or misinterpreted.
In this particular structure, collaboration tends to only happen between peers. Employees will only communicate, innovate, and solve problems on the employee front, managers will only do so on their end, and executives will relay their issues to the managers.
Popular among large companies, divisional structures operate as branches of the leading company. These branches have their leaders, employees, and internal structure. Collaboration within these teams tends to be similar to a hierarchy structure.
Team collaboration typically only happens within their divisions as these branches tend to act independently from other company divisions. Maintaining communication with other branches is very difficult because each division is specialized and focused on its projects.
Multidivisional structures hinder a collaborative environment within the company but not within their division. It’s common for these divisions to have a stronger output because their resources and teams focus on one particular project.
This desired goal leads to incredible collaborative efforts within their division.
Some businesses are remote and remain all digital. While there are benefits to having a company structure that is all digital, it can impact social collaboration.
For example, according to research conducted by Jessica R. Methot and her team, workers who experienced more small talk throughout their days saw a more positive impact on their work.
People need to have easy ways to communicate and communicate as often as possible without limiting their workflow. Collaborative efforts come from social interaction. If social interaction is limited or restricted, so will innovative and collaborative ideas.
Luckily, a digital environment has ways around this lack of face-to-face communication. The digital space allows for instant communication with people worldwide, leading to insane productivity for businesses.
People aren’t bound to their physical environment to work or talk to their teams. While small talk is limited in a digital environment, meaningful communication can still happen through video conferences, chat rooms, phones, and emails.
There will always be some disconnect in a digitally structured environment. Still, as communication technologies improve, we will find more and more ways to continue social interaction with our coworkers and team leaders.
How Does a Business Promote Social Collaboration?
The three listed structures have their benefits and drawbacks, but they promote social collaboration in some ways. There are general practices that can reinforce this idea of social collaboration within these organizational structures.
Companies that actively promote transparency and openness see higher employee satisfaction and social, collaborative benefits. Executives and managers should better communicate their intent and listen to their employees during the communication process. Transparent communication leads to joint efforts on all levels of the hierarchy.
Even in a digital environment, communication can still be strong. Proper communication technologies can help keep teams actively communicating and working on projects even when not in the same room or country.
Established Company Goal
One of the strengths of the divisional structure is having a focused team achieve the desired goal, but companies can do this without this organizational structure. Focusing all departments to contribute to an overall operation and plan can help promote teamwork and social collaboration.
In many ways, social collaboration in business will always be the leading cause for innovation in companies. People need to communicate and keep an open line of communication with other teams and coworkers.
While there will always be issues that arise as humans communicate, the important thing is that we try to communicate with each other as best we can. Mental health issues will occur in the workplace, but adequately utilizing the tools within your business structure will help mitigate that stress by promoting a safe work environment and proper communication tools.