Creating a culture of collaboration

Collaboration has been shown to support productivity and business performance, as well as improving employee engagement. Implementing the right culture is far from easy, but businesses that get it right stand to attract and retain the best talent


When Google for Work and Raconteur plotted the data for job satisfaction against the extent to which a company adopts a culture based on knowledge sharing and collaboration, there was a clear correlation.

Knowledge-sharing and collaboration is one of the main priorities for young workers today as they bounce ideas off each other, often on digital platforms, leading to new solutions and in turn growth and innovation.

Businesses still have some way to go before they are able to master the technological tools which will further enable collaboration

Google for Work and Raconteur surveyed 258 C-Suite executives from North American companies representing a diverse range of business sectors and sizes to gain an insight into the best tools for an increasingly collaborative culture.

The results clearly showed that collaboration boosts job satisfaction and employee engagement but that businesses still have some way to go before they are able to master the technological tools which will further enable collaboration.

Employee morale and collaboration

It’s obvious why an organisation’s culture is so important when respondents believed that ‘not attracting enough talent’ (25 per cent), an ‘inability to retain the best talent’ (18 per cent) and ‘a disengaged workforce’ (14 per cent) were the most serious threats facing their organisations.

For media companies, geographical separation and the underutilisation of communication technologies are the biggest challenges in creating a more collaborative culture

However implementing the right culture is far from easy. Respondents’ answers highlighted that the biggest challenges they face in creating a more collaborative culture include ‘difficulty changing working styles or habits’ (22 per cent), a lack of employee incentive to work more collaboratively (17 per cent) and a complete lack of leadership (14 per cent) as the top 3 problems. Two of those three are directly related to not prioritizing a culture of collaboration and innovation.

There’s no doubt that each of these barriers should be taken seriously, but with strong leadership, exact communication, and inspired change agents within the business, none of these top three challenges is insurmountable.

Biggest challenges in creative a more collaborative culture

The steps to creating a collaborative culture 

So, how does a business foster a strong and effective culture of collaboration? The first step is to work out what that culture would look like for a given business. The vision will, of course, change according to sector, however two key milestones remain constant:

  • Agility: The ability to respond quickly to changes in a business environment
  • Transparency: An open conversation can be created if information is allowed to flow freely across the business so that all employees feel that their voice is heard and valued.

Interestingly, media companies cited geographical separation and the underutilisation of communication technologies as the biggest challenges in creating a more collaborative work culture. Half of the media companies surveyed identified themselves as ‘Believers’, companies that have adopted new technologies and reworked their business models, but still feel that they are yet to experience the full benefits of transformation.

Case Study: Collaborative Culture with Avery Dennison

250px-Averydennison.svgAvery Dennison, the global labelling and packaging company, has more than 25,000 staff and has been around for 80 years, but was able to embrace new technology, processes and a more collaborative approach to work when it adopted Google Apps for Work for its global workforce.

Senior director of new technologies, Bhupesh Arora, admits that transforming the company’s culture wasn’t a completely straightforward process: “When you make a big change, you are going to face resistance—that’s just the nature of the beast.”

But, he adds, through clear, comprehensive communication with staff, and by calling on the help of “evangelists” within the business, it was possible to bring about a fast, efficient transformation. “We solicited help from 700 passionate employees across the world. These employees created a positive buzz and showcased how the tools can simplify work processes. The evangelists were our eyes and ears, and provided feedback about how to adjust our change management and communication processes across divisions.”

About the survey

This study of 258 North American business and IT leaders, produced by Raconteur and Google for Work, was conducted in Q1 2015.

Respondents were asked to complete an anonymous online survey about their beliefs and predictions around innovation and collaboration in the workplace. The individuals that responded to this survey represented a broad spectrum of industries in terms of both their size and main areas of activity.

About Google for Work