What is Collaboration and Why Does it Matter?

Collaboration is a word that likely conjures images of lengthy email chains, video calls with grids of faces, and group message notifications lighting up phones in a dizzying stream. But for me it sparks thoughts of my eccentric friend, Bubbles. Allow me to explain how this unlikely muse informs my perspective.

by 

James Moffatt

-

November 12, 2023

Collaboration is a word that likely conjures images of lengthy email chains, video calls with grids of faces, and group message notifications lighting up phones in a dizzying stream. But for me it sparks thoughts of my eccentric friend, Bubbles. Allow me to explain how this unlikely muse informs my perspective.

You see, Bubbles fancies involving himself enthusiastically, if not helpfully, into my remote work routine by abruptly interrupting video meetings to wave at the camera or playing loud music while I’m referencing important documents. Hardly stellar collaborative etiquette - though we can’t blame him for trying!

Bubbles’ unrestrained approach may not be what comes to mind when most envision constructive teamwork. And yet, if I probe deeper into motivation, there are nuggets of insight to be gleaned. Underneath his zany lack of self-awareness lies a fundamental craving for connection and contribution. The essence of collaboration tapped into - if only we can channel it constructively.

But why does any of this matter beyond an amusing anecdote? In today's increasingly dispersed business environment, with remote work untethered from geography and teams global by default, collaboration can no longer be taken for granted. Gone are the days when cooperation flowed freely from casual office run-ins. Impromptu whiteboard jam sessions fade as work digitizes. In their wake, fostering collaboration requires intention, empathy, and technology to unite workers across distances. Therefore, as a remote team working together and collaborating asynchronously and in real-time, it is relevant for us to align our personal experiences with this notion, as is done in the Bubble below.

At the foundation are project management platforms, weaving scattered efforts into a coherent mosaic dictated by accountability and visibility. These tools form the potter’s wheel where distributed teams take shape. They facilitate conversations unconstrained by time zones, provide a fertile ground for brainstorming, and lend transparency into tasks, timelines and responsibilities alike. In an age of entropy, they bring order and orchestration to realizing collective potential.

But we must be wary of reducing collaborative interactions strictly to efficiency gains or productivity outputs. Because at its core, authentic collaboration represents an opportunity to cultivate sustainable relationships in the absence of a shared physical environment. Consider Bubbles’ playful presence during my work from home sessions not as a distraction, but rather as social creature seeking interpersonal connection. Similarly, team activities present invaluable occasions for relationship-building, strengthening interpersonal bonds beyond what offices could ever constrain. These emotional ties fuel engagement, satisfaction, and retention for distributed teams alike.

Collaboration also serves as the crucible for forging organizational intelligence through integrating a diversity of experiences and perspectives. Bubbles’ unconventional worldview keeps me mentally nimble even if our approaches differ dramatically! Similarly, when teams enlist people of wide-ranging backgrounds, skill sets and working styles, the resultant solutions reveal the amplified potential of collective capabilities collaborating in harmony.

But with great variance comes great complexity in communication required. Streamlining the synthesis of multifarious minds demands diligent diplomacy, articulation, and translation skills from across the organizational hierarchy. This makes collaboration exceptionally vulnerable to erosion of team trust without proper caretaking from both leaders and contributors alike. Those in positions of authority must model transparent vulnerability while avoiding toxic politics which corrode culture. Simultaneously, individuals play a role through nurturing interpersonal goodwill with soft skills like cultural awareness, patience and compassion. Nevertheless, there is a fine line between being empathetic and allowing poor productivity and collaborative efforts, which can be further understand within this Bubble.

When trust and psychological safety thrive, employee engagement blossoms in their wake. Consider Bubbles’ wholesome enthusiasm always making me smile even when our approaches conflict. Now envision that same emotional rewards culture scaled across an entire organization. People feel valued, heard and respected regardless of background. Collaboration transforms from obligation to opportunity. Work becomes a shared labor of passion and meaning rather than merely transactional. Alignment around mission and purpose propels teams to new heights.

Let us also contemplate collaboration’s fruits when it comes to creativity and problem solving. Bubbles keeps me cognitively nimble by presenting an endless parade of enigmas through his eccentricities. But his antics also demonstrate that without structure or methodology, decentralized efforts can spiral into diffusion. Effective collaboration thus mandates deliberate leadership in providing frameworks to distill direction and priorities from chaos. Norms must be established for communication rhythms. Creative processes given just enough guardrails so they culminate in targeted outcomes, not just ideas in isolation.

In remote environments especially, the stakes heighten further. Without ambient signals and impromptu exchanges endemic to physical workplaces, virtual teams must meticulously manufacture moments of connection through intentional utilization of digital tools. The ad hoc tap on a co-worker’s desk morphs into scheduled video check-ins. The gentle nudge evolves into detailed project updates on boards. The high five shifted to animated GIFs and emoji reactions in chat channels. No element can be left to chance. The knock-on effects of effective team collaboration can therefore be widespread, and have been explored in depth within the Bubble below.

At the end of the day, well-orchestrated collaboration unlocks exponential returns through enabling the amplification of collective contributions. But realizing this latent potential necessitates laying a foundation of psychological safety, cultural cohesion and interpersonal trust upon which fruitful cooperation can flourish. Bubbles has taught me that behind every collaborator - no matter how quirky - reside fundamental human desires to be seen, heard and valued rather than dismissed or ignored. Meet these needs with empathy first and foremost. Only then can collaboration’s dividends fully manifest.

Make your
meetings matter

Use AI to record, transcribe, and summarize meetings into actions. Bubbles is your home for after-meeting collaboration.

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Collaborate better with your team

Get your point across using screen, video, and audio messages. Bubbles is free, and offers unlimited recordings with a click of a button.

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More from Bubbles

Collaborate better with your team

Get your point across using screen, video, and audio messages. Bubbles is free, and offers unlimited recordings with a click of a button.

Get started free

Make your
meetings matter

Use AI to record, transcribe, and summarize meetings into actions. Bubbles is your home for after-meeting collaboration.

Try it free in < 2 min

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