As 2022 approaches, many companies are trying to bring people back into their offices at least part-time. The rationale is that it’s easier for us to engage in teamwork and collaborate when we’re together, since that’s how we’ve been doing it all our lives. Digital tools provide some support for these activities, but the thinking is that remote isn’t as effective as face-to face when it comes to teamwork.
Prior to the pandemic, Fierce Inc., surveyed more than 1400 executives and employees and reported that 86% said workplace failures were caused by a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication (See “3 important skills for teamwork and collaboration in the new normal”.) The study identified 3 main skills and 4 supportive skills for teamwork and collaboration:
- Trust – “the degree to which each party feels that they can depend on the other part to do what they say they will do” (APA definition). To develop it, people need to engage in team building activities and engage in spontaneous bonding activities. Obviously when physically together, it’s easier to do so. They also hold each other accountable – which creates trust-within-teams
- Tolerance –“level of acceptance and appreciation for the unique styles, values and rules of each person including your own”. To develop it, people need exposure to a diverse team for exposure to different ideas, values and perspectives. They also need to learn how to be tolerant, including the practices and skills, and how to be empathetic, taking other people’s perspectives and viewpoints.
- Self-Awareness – “knowing your emotions, motivations and blind-spots and how they affect others on your team”. This critical component of Emotional Intelligence affects who we communicate with others, since it requires that we recognize our own feelings as we discuss our feelings toward others. How do we develop greater self-awareness? Since we’re often poor judges of ourselves, we can ask for feedback from others, as well as use objective assessments. Also, we need to monitor own emotional reactions to actions by others and yourself.
- Empathy – both the emotional component (who you feel) and the cognitive (taking someone else’s perspective)
- Transparency – more than honesty, it’s telling the truth even when non-one asks for it with the goal of avoiding problems that might occur later.
- Active Listening – Rather than listening to respond, this is listening to understand. By clearly paying attention to others, you enable them to express themselves to you and know they are being heard.
- Handling Conflict Resolution. When conflicts appear, people need to know how to de-escalate and resolve them. This way they can work together to create a happy, healthy and productive team.
So, as you go back to work on a hybrid status or full-time, keep in mind the importance of working together to promote teamwork and collaboration by mastering these skills. Some of us may be rusty having been remote for a year. So be patient and tolerant, and as a team promote collaboration!