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Calling time on collaboration woes

Modern business in the digital age can often feel like a consistent drive to do more – be more innovative, more productive, more efficient, more agile, more dynamic and more collaborative. The latter is key, without having true collaboration within the workplace achieving everything else is simply not realistic. However, fostering collaboration isn’t the easiest for many businesses to implement, and recent research we conducted at Sharp revealed that it’s an ambition rather than a reality for many UK offices.

According to the Center for Digital Business, collaboration is defined as two or more people coming together to create something that they could not have created on their own. But with more people working from home or mobile working, collaborative relationships are becoming more difficult to embrace, with selfish habits amplifying this issue. 

Our survey of 1,000 UK office workers exposed a lack of teamwork and selfish habits blighting businesses across the country. We uncovered that almost half of workers in the UK (46 per cent) work with colleagues who forget to share important information or documents with them, meaning wasted time and missed opportunities resulting in potentially lost revenue. The same number (46 per cent) also state that their colleagues talk over others in meetings, making for a disruptive working environment. 

Despite noticing these selfish traits in their colleagues, over a quarter of UK workers (26 per cent) prefer to do nothing about the problem, 21 per cent like to leave a note in a communal area and 20 per cent email their colleagues to complain. But watch out if you work in IT – one in five said they secretly email colleagues’ bosses to point out their failings. 

Reaping the rewards of collaboration

Most of us will recognise these behaviours as a part of office life, which could appear easier to live with rather than trying to change. However, there’s a serious issue behind these findings too. If your business isn’t setup to promote teamwork and the sharing of information, you will be losing opportunities to grow. How much of the information that workers are forgetting to share could have led to new business, saved costs or inspired a new idea? Collaboration is essential for a happier, creative and more productive workforce.

Worryingly, businesses could also be bringing this collaboration deficit on themselves, as 45 per cent of workers think that the technology in their office actually makes it more difficult to share information. Considering half of workers (50 per cent) also ignore problems with the communal office technology, businesses will need to act fast to ensure that teams can still use technology to work together. 

The fact that technology could be hindering collaboration when it is so ubiquitous in our lives is almost comical, more than anything it illustrates the importance of ensuring the right technology is in place. Businesses need to be implementing products and applications which give employees the flexibility and choice to work in ways which best suit them as a team. This is the one surefire way to reap the rewards that collaboration promises. 

Stuart Sykes, Managing Director, Sharp Business Systems UK
Image Credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Stuart Sykes is Managing Director at Sharp Business Systems UK, and is responsible for Sharp’s entire UK business.