A recent infographic from WorkflowMax highlights compelling data regarding workplace collaboration and provides actionable insights to help a company improve how its employees communicate--with each other, with contractors and with clients. The infographic, 4 Ways to Improve Collaboration at Your Company, illustrates that workplace collaboration can increase innovation by 15% and, if done well, can reduce time to market by 20%. The key to achieving that success is through the three-step process outlined here--a method that combines the right collaborative software with effective methods of communication.

Step 1: Offer the right technology

In our digital society, the mobile and remote workforce is steadily increasing. To work from anywhere (and at any time), employees need and even expect employers to provide certain collaborative software--such as web conferencing tools, which 52% of survey respondents cited as one of the tools that must be provided by employers. Web conferencing didn't top the list--it was bested by remote access (64%), mobility (60%) and desktop virtualization (55%).

Without these assets, it's unlikely any workplace innovations will occur. But they alone don't guarantee better collaboration.

Step 2: Remain available, consistent and clear

Once you have the talent in place with the tools necessary to do the job, increase your team's chances of success by arming them with the appropriate soft skills to collaborate with remote workers and contractors. It's also important to stress that team members must be available when coworkers need them. These communication tips (the infographic offers more) can help:

  • Using presence tracking (a feature available with many IM apps) is a great way for employees to notify coworkers when they're available for a spontaneous meeting or last-minute question.
  • Consistency is a key factor for eliminating confusion and ensuring quality. Establish processes for mundane HR tasks, meeting protocols and everything in between. Documenting the processes and housing them in a shared place will ensure no one has to hunt for the information.
  • Another important factor to ensuring a project's success is clarity, and it's important whether you're dealing with in-house teams, remote workers or contractors who are hired on a project by project basis. From the start, ensure that all team members on a project are aware of scope, the division of tasks and the all-important deadlines.

Step 3: Set the example for effective collaboration and communication

Employees must understand what the provided software tools are for and how to use them. Your staff is also responsible for practicing good communication--among themselves, with clients and with you. Equally important is the notion that effective communication is expected from everyone, starting from the top down.

Providing information early and often about any new toolsets you're rolling out to your staff will give them an understanding of how the tools can improve productivity and teamwork.

  • Roll out the toolset in phases, if possible, before going company-wide. This way, you can test the tools and make adjustments as necessary before everyone has the software.
  • Provide training to ensure employees are familiar with feature sets and best practices. The training should be in whatever format you provide other training to your staff--via in-person sessions or self-guided video tutorials.

Communicating about a 'simple' thing like collaborative toolsets allows you to set the tone for communicating overall in an effective, consistent and respectful way. You have to be willing to walk the walk if you want your employees to fall in line behind you.