- Written by Ariel Sztern
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Collaboration in the workplace is increasing every year and teamwork is a concept that many organizations take great pains to implement. But, while it can offer a number of important benefits, it can also be costly if it not carried out properly. Organizations that want to keep ahead of the competition need to understand how to help developers collaborate effectively, that is why we bring you these 4 studies that share insights on how to create environments that are more collaborative and productive.
1. Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups, 2008.
The study by psychologists at Carnegie Mellon, M.I.T. and Union College found that the most successful and collaborative teams displayed certain types of social norms or “unwritten rules.” The study, showed that the most consistently successful teams were ones that raised the “collective intelligence” of the group by giving everyone an equal chance to talk. The most successful teams gave everyone a voice and a chance to feel heard.
Giving everyone a voice can be as easy as using a tool like Slack, that allows team members to discuss projects and share feedback. Using survey tools can also be an effective way to collect feedback (especially from members of the team who may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts anonymously).
2. Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams, 1999.
An added benefit of what researchers call ‘‘conversational turn-taking’’ and ‘‘social sensitivity’’ is that both of these traits help to create “psychological safe spaces.” Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines this as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ In Edmondson’s 1999 study, she described how in a safe space, people feel confident that they won’t be embarrassed or rejected for being themselves.
For developers, encouraging safe spaces makes it’s easier for team members to share new ideas and discuss mistakes, for example. This especially important in the technology industry, where the adage, “fail fast, fail often,” is often cited as the path to innovation. To increase collaboration, foster an environment where team members feel safe being themselves, taking risks and making mistakes.
3. The New Science of Building Great Teams, 2012.
When you think of meetings, you typically think of a conference room. Turn meetings into walks to the coffee shop or a walk around around your office space. Getting out of the office helps to team members build rapport and make the personal connections. 2012 study by researchers at MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, shows that having conversations outside of formal meetings were important to team success. Teams fostered these informal meetings by scheduling coffee breaks and planning social events. The energy and enthusiasm inspired by these interactions even improved productivity between groups and contributed to creating a more cohesive company culture.
4. Cisco’s Telecommuting Study, 2009
The study from Cisco showed that virtual teams can actually outperform face-to-face teams. Cisco’s Teleworker Survey, an in-depth study of almost 2,000 company employees, found that 69% of employees said their productivity increased when they worked remotely and 83% said that their communication with their team either stayed the same or improved. Working remotely can help developers have better work life balance and add variety to their routine, making it easier for them to be present and mindful when they’re in the office.
Additionally, working remotely means that employees have to communicate more in writing, which means that more information is captured and easier to access later. This can help reduce miscommunications that make it harder to collaborate.
While every team is different, provide an equal forum for all, create safe spaces, break out of regular meetings and encourage teams to work virtually appear to be keys to a successful team. Creating a positive environment is the best way to start opening up the channels of communication and strengthening team bonds.
About Ariel Sztern
Ariel is a Software Engineer with more than 20 years of experience in Software Development with experience in managing projects in more than 16 countries
Nowadays Ariel is responsible for managing the operation in USA as President of TISA Software LLC.
Beyond his technical knowledge and passion for the technology Ariel enjoys watching the NBA and playing Ping-Pong, he also likes sci-fi movies and was recognized as one of the 40 under 40 by the Houston Business Journal in 2014.