Breaking down silos – tools for better communication and collaboration
used with permission from Microsoft Office Blogs
Today’s workforce is spread across more locations than ever before: 37 percent of workers telecommuted to some degree in 2015. Companies occupy multiple locations, and business partnerships span the globe. In addition to physical separation, teams in the same company are separated by projects and departments. These barriers unfortunately lead to communication silos, furthering separation and limiting teamwork and collaboration.
Silos can have a significant (and detrimental) effect on your business. They create barriers between teams, often disrupting communications across your entire organization. But that’s not all. Let’s look at the wider impact silos can have across your company.
- Limits communication and impedes culture—Siloed teams eventually inhibit your company’s culture. Employees crave communication, collaboration and a thriving work environment. They want to feel comfortable being themselves and feel like they’re part of a team. In fact, 47 percent of workers find it motivating when colleagues discuss workplace success.
- Creates repeat work—Often, you frustratingly discover that someone else at your company (most likely on another team or in a different department) is doing the same work or looking for the same information. When teams are in the dark on other teams’ projects, it can severely impact your business’s productivity.
- Blocks information from those who need it—The average interaction worker spends nearly 20 percent of their workweek looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.
Here’s how you can harness communication tools to break down these silos and enable employees to share ideas like never before.
Streamline file management and storage
Sharing files should be seamless between teams, tools, devices and departments. A platform or suite of well-integrated tools will allow clear connections between people, content and business apps across the organization. As a part of such a suite, team sites can help employees collaborate on documents, store information and manage projects. This will allow for cross-team, real-time document sharing and editing to support collaboration on several levels, while providing one easy place to find it all.
To improve productivity, team sites should be accessible from virtually anywhere, making information securely available and enabling collaboration across distances and from mobile devices.
Broaden the use of team- or project-based communication tools
Teams that don’t interact on a regular basis are often unaware of what the other is working on. Enterprise social networks built for cross-organization communication can help break down these silos and walls. Employees can create cross-company and cross-department groups on topics of shared interest, successes and learnings to solve problems or crowdsource ideas.
Organizations also often face management and executive silos, created by organizational hierarchy, internal communication practices and company culture. These hierarchical barriers can be broken down by creating groups within team-based communication tools to empower employees to engage in two-way conversations with executives.
Improve interpersonal relationships
Easily accessible communication tools, such as IM, voice calls and video conferencing, give employees multiple ways to reach out to their peers. If they are allowed to choose their method of communication—and can connect with peers from nearly anywhere—employees are more likely to reach out and build stronger interpersonal relationships.
The right collaboration tools can help reduce barriers to communication, provide better access to resources and help teams be more productive.