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Why is collaboration important in teamwork?
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Why is collaboration important in teamwork?

A headshot of Simon Kirrane
Simon Kirrane
21st May, 2024
8 min read
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A headshot of Simon Kirrane
Simon Kirrane
21st May, 2024
8 min read
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What is collaborative teamwork?
Why is collaboration important in teamwork?
What stops effective team collaboration?
The signs of failure to collaborate
How to achieve collaborative teamwork
Examples of successful teamwork and collaboration

Teamwork makes the dream work, but only when it’s done properly. Learn how to achieve effective team collaboration with our guide.

Want a more efficient workplace? It’s less about fancy bells and whistles but instead a pillar of work management: collaborative teamwork. A stunning 23% of U.S. employees said that the lack of collaboration within their team gets in the way of work, representing millions of people who want to get going but just can’t.

To build a dream team, learn about collaborative teamwork and how it can be effectively achieved in your business.

What is collaborative teamwork?

Collaborative teamwork combines collaboration (the act of working with someone) and teamwork (the combined action of a group), making it the action of working with others for a collective or common outcome.

While any team has individuals who can work together, collaborative teamwork is when there’s an intentional focus on combining individual efforts and talents to reach a goal.

“Every team starts as a group of individuals, then you start to lean on each other. You motivate each other, pick up slack when someone is having an off day, congratulate others on a performance… then suddenly, you all hold yourselves to a higher standard because you’re doing it for more than yourself. Now our opponents aren’t just up against an individual, they have to contend with the whole team.”
- Jimmy Moody, NCAA Fencing Champion

Why is collaboration important in teamwork?

You can have a team, but collaboration doesn’t come as standard. By pooling resources and efforts towards common goals through collaboration, you can expect enhanced problem-solving, greater creativity, a range of perspectives, and improved efficiency and outcomes.

The key benefits of collaboration include:
  • Problem-solving: Collaboration brings diverse perspectives and expertise.
  • Efficiency: Working together allows tasks to be accomplished faster. Sharing workload and responsibilities ensure that work is done more efficiently.
  • Learning: Team members learn from each other's experiences and knowledge.
  • Engagement: When employees feel their contributions are valued and they are part of a supportive team, job satisfaction increases.
  • Communication: Collaboration fosters open communication and trust among team members.

What stops effective team collaboration?

Your teams may work together but may be hindered by huge projects or incorrect communication tools.
  • A recent Harvard Business Review report indicated that today’s project teams can involve members of 100 or more, yet it’s been reported that the tendency to collaborate naturally decreases as a team increases beyond 20 members.

  • A study found that 74% of millennials prefer to collaborate in small groups.

  • More than 40% said real-time collaboration has been replaced with asynchronous or disjointed collaboration tools.

As the way we work changes, ensuring we don’t leave collaboration to itself is more important than ever.

The signs of failure to collaborate

There are several signs that your team is uncooperative, including:
  • Lack of communication
  • Dominance of specific team members
  • Misalignment of goals
  • Overlooking (or not asking for) certain contributions

How to achieve collaborative teamwork

We analysed the research, including a Harvard Business Review study analysing 55 large teams demonstrating high levels of collaborative behaviour. Here are the top areas for success identified.


“Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another.”

Learning what good looks like and helping show employees that they are teammates, not threats, all start from day one. An informal or formal mentoring programme could help coach new employees into the company ethos.

At Google, a new employer is not only mentored by senior employees but also has an onboarding check-in at least once a month for the first six months!

  • Teaming new employees up with experienced employees
  • Early introductions to projects
  • Welcome meetings across all departments
  • Training and learning outside of their immediate role

Develop a company-wide approach

A commitment to collaboration can be company-wide for the best impact. Consider The VT Group, one of the UK’s leading defence companies, which employs over 12,000 people.

“The Group’s financial performance has continued to improve, despite a testing economic environment, and it was recently ranked as the top performing supplier to the MoD.”

The company focused on collaboration through several whole business methods:
  • Ensured their senior management team effectively encouraged feedback
  • Workshops on organisational vision and values with all employees
  • Values based on a ‘can-do/will-do’ approach
  • An extensive programme of coaching
  • A performance-related appraisal scheme
  • A commitment to challenging poor behaviour
  • Rewards for appropriate behaviour
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Invest in team bonding

Events and group activities play a crucial role in fostering collaboration through community-building activities. When we meet in person, have fun, or get to like each other as humans, skills like appreciating others, engaging in purposeful conversations, resolving conflicts, and managing programs to enhance collaborative effectiveness become easier at work.

According to Gallup, when employees have genuine friends, their work improves. Yet the number of employees who believe their organisation cares about their well-being has plummeted to a record low of just 24%. An event could be a tool to bring teams together.

Make work-from-anywhere tools a reality

As 85% of global workers state working from home is appealing, many smart businesses (80%) said they have physically restructured their offices to better allow hybrid work. Working from anywhere is likely to be the future. In a PWC study, 83% of employers say the shift to remote work has been successful, and in a 2022 reflection, almost 80% of employees said they feel like they collaborate as well now as they did prior to 2020 despite working in new locations.

However, the right tools are required:
  • A Microsoft study revealed that more than 75% of respondents strongly or somewhat prefer to use a holistic solution for cross-team or cross-app collaboration.
  • It’s been revealed that up to 60% of a workday is consumed with coordinating work - such as communicating about work, searching for information, switching between apps, and managing shifting priorities.

It’s clear to see that collaboration starts with technology.

Examples of successful teamwork and collaboration

  • Chris Froome's triumphant victory in the Tour de France 2016 is a prime example of collaboration. Eight of the world's elite cyclists in the team dedicated themselves entirely to Froome's success. Their strategy? Protect and propel Froome to the forefront (no dual leaders). This unified team goal paid off.

  • Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson, on the other hand, wanted a collaborative team that didn't rely on a single star but on the combined strengths of all players. Famously creating a new dynamic emphasising each player's strengths, Jackson orchestrated one of the most formidable teams in NBA history.

  • Under Steve Borthwick's guidance, the England rugby team focused on collaborative team building, including integrating family into the training process. Borthwick banned the unpredictable schedules seen under former coach Eddie Jones and helped create harmony with a delineation of work and leisure time, which not only improved player well-being but also team performance.

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Written by
A headshot of Simon Kirrane
Simon Kirrane
Senior Content Marketing Manager
With a 20-year career in content marketing, Simon has represented a range of international brands. His current specialism is the future of work and work management. Simon is skilled at launching content pipelines, establishing powerful brands, and crafting innovative content strategies.

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