Collaborative work is a widespread notion that deserves to be clarified as working methods are developed that derogate from traditional practices but do not belong to true collaborative work.
Collaborative Work Collective Responsibility
Here is a synthetic definition proposal:
- Collaborative work is the work carried out jointly by several people who pool their knowledge and skills, organize and coordinate their actions to achieve an outcome for which they are collectively responsible.
New information and communication technologies are the indispensable tool of this mode of work. Unlike working methods in which the hierarchy is central, the fundamental principle of cooperative work is to place all members of the group on an equal footing.
Responsibility is global and collective. All members of the group work together. Everyone works on a subject, proposes it to others. The work is carried out by accumulations and permanent modifications. The reports are horizontal, each one gives his opinion and valid. The talents and skills of each member are at the service of the project.
Optimized Workspace for Collaborative Work
Work spaces must evolve in parallel with the organization and working methods. The open spaces or shared offices are an effective way for the team members meet interactively. The freedom given to employees to reconfigure their working environment also makes it possible to strengthen collaboration. The positioning of the offices facilitates the dynamics of proximity and confidence. The spaces of relaxation, places of spontaneous encounters, also promote the cooperation and the feeling of belonging.
Corporate real estate advice focuses on three key factors:
- The proximity that favors socialization and brewing;
- The intimacy which presupposes the freedom of choice of the place and of the working partners with a possibility of nomadic work;
- Certain permissiveness makes possible an evolution of the organization towards an optimal form favoring the interaction and the co-creation.
The Cohesion of a Cooperative Working Group
All members are on an equal footing in the collaborative process, but how to manage labor relations? And do we have to create subgroups and designate representatives or a steering group?
When tasks are complex, these implementations are envisaged. The composition of the groups must then take into account the wishes of the participants, their competences and their work constraints. The objective is to achieve a balance in the distribution of tasks, without excessive specialization and with a critical eye. Risks to compromising collaborative work may emerge. A certain de-motivation may arise, personal initiatives being hampered by the very existence of a “leader”, a higher echelon on which one rests. A lack of transparency, linked to the privileged relations that are then established naturally between the representatives of groups, is inevitable.
Benefits of Collaborative Working
As part of a policy of well-being at work, the values of collaborative work lead to the establishment of a calm climate. Benevolence of the various stakeholders, clarity in collaboration and application of the giving and giving principle are the success factors of the approach, the benefits are numerous.
Obviously, collective work does not happen overnight in a company. It is the fruit of a common will implemented progressively around a common project. Undoubtedly providing a better quality of professional life, it can be an additional stress or if changes occur badly, without the support of all.
The tools of Collaborative Work
Numerical means are very diverse, in a closed environment (intranet, training platform) or open (Internet, social networks):
- Communication tools: instant messaging , corporate social networks
- discussion forums, audio or video chat, telephone, videoconferencing
- Organizational tools or collaborative platforms : the agenda to schedule actions and appointments, project management software like Planzone
- Storage and sharing tools such as on-line storage services
- Shared creation tools such as wikis allowing writing to several or shared blogs or even pages created on social networks