While internal collaboration sounds ideal, it can be difficult to achieve, especially considering traditional work models. Kelly (2009) lists several aspects of a workplace culture that will foster collaboration. The first factor that helps create a collaborative environment is “come and go as you please” schedules. According to Kelly, when management allows alternative schedules, telecommuting, and time off to attend to personal commitments, collaboration, ironically, is likely. Employees will need to use various document creation, planning, communication, and file-sharing tools to accomplish their goals. If there is a culture that encourages the sharing of information, collaboration will be likely. Employees who are connected, technically savvy, early adopters of the latest technology, and open to the possibility of discussing work at any time will be more likely to collaborate. Finally, management that demonstrates by example that they value collaboration will also find that they have a staff that is likely to collaborate.
If these factors encourage collaboration, then it stands to reason that the opposite factors will inhibit collaboration. Expecting employees to not only always be at the office but at their desks does not encourage a collaborative environment. Micromanaging will not lead to cooperation; management must loosen up control if they hope to achieve creative collaboration. Kelly describes “knowledge archipelagos,” islands of information caused by the hoarding of knowledge by individual employees; these archipelagos are the opposite of collaboration. If there is a split in the staff between those who achieve work-life balance by only conducting work during traditional working hours and those who are willing to be constantly available through technology, even during non-work hours, then collaboration will be difficult. Finally, when some or all of the staff is paid an hourly rate (instead of an annual salary), collaboration outside of paid work shifts is unlikely. The availability of collaborative tools such as Google Docs, wikis, or Skype will not create collaboration amongst a staff that is anti-collaboration due to personal or corporate beliefs and practices that stifle it.
Kelly, W. (2009). Corporate culture, not technology, drives collaboration. Web Worker Daily.