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15 practical ways to build teamwork in the workplace
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15 practical ways to build teamwork in the workplace

Want your people to work better together? Discover 15 ways to build teamwork at your organization.

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Bees: They’re nature’s model of productivity. Their collective efforts are the reason we get to put honey in our tea or on our biscuits. And if there’s anything we can learn from them, it’s their knack for working together. 

In a colony of honey bees, each bee knows what its role is. The queen and drones repopulate the colony while the worker bees collect nectar, care for the hive, and produce honey. 

All this collaboration pays off. While a single bee can produce about one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey across its entire life, a productive hive can produce more than 60 pounds of honey in a season.* 

Similarly, when your employees work well together, you’ll see impressive results—the kind that one person alone couldn’t produce. Truly collaborative teams aren’t just primed to hit their departmental KPIs–they’re also more innovative and resilient. 

That’s why teamwork matters: It’s not just about “getting along,” but rather trusting in each other to be creative and take strategic risks as you go after company goals. Here are 15 ways to bake collaboration into your company culture and help you foster effective teamwork in your organization.

Want your team to work together? Give them a place to do just that.  
Switchboard fosters team collaboration through intuitive, visual meeting and project rooms, helping you build a more connected team. 
Learn more

*The British Beekeepers Association 

15 ways to build and improve teamwork in the workplace

Bees are naturally collaborative creatures. On the flipside, while people can do great things together, it’s not always apparent to employees how they can best work together as a team. So here are 15 things you can do to build team unity and get your employees collaborating effectively. 

Get organized and aligned

Organization is what helps bees protect their hive and produce such impressive amounts of honey. Worker bees don’t try to do the queen’s job, and drones aren’t out there collecting pollen. 

Similarly, on a team with effective collaboration, everyone knows their role and works towards a common goal. Use these five strategies for getting your employees organized, aligned, and clear on goals. 

1. Establish a shared vision and goals

For bees, the goal is making honey. So what is your team working towards? Establish a vision to organize your team around, setting collective goals that motivate your employees. When everyone understands how they play a critical role in your company’s success, they’ll be much more eager to work towards that shared objective. 

According to Tarah Keech, founder of Tarah Keech Coaching, these goals should be grounded in your company’s values. “Make sure you’re putting your values and priorities first,” says Tarah. “Be clear about how you want to reach your goals and why they matter for your team.” 

2. Track progress using OKRs

Setting a goal is important, but if you want to reach it, you need to track your progress. The OKR framework is a great way to measure how your team is advancing towards your goals and where they might need extra support. 

In this approach to goal setting, you create a big picture “Objective” that your team should work towards. Then, set smaller, more approachable “Key Results” to track progress and give employees smaller milestones to focus on. This helps your team work together by clarifying where they can support their coworkers when working towards a common goal. 

3. Manage projects in a shared online workspace

If you want your team to work together, you need to give them a place to do so. That’s where a digital workspace can help. Switchboard, for example, lets you visually organize everything your team uses into meeting and project rooms–and makes everything instantly multiplayer. 

Employees can work together in coworking sessions, meetings, and in between meetings on a wide range of documents and apps inside a persistent virtual room. Because of this, it helps you foster team connection, collaboration, and productivity.

Switchboard data and insights room
Create a designated room for each of your projects in Switchboard so your people always have a place to collaborate and brainstorm—together or async. Source: Switchboard

4. Give everyone the resources they need to succeed

In addition to a digital workspace, your people need other resources that help them work together. The key here is to ask your team what they need, rather than make assumptions about the tools that could help them collaborate. 

Send out a survey, and listen to your people. Do they want a better team messaging app? Are they dissatisfied with your current virtual meeting platform? Once you take the pulse on your employees’ preferences, give them the tools they need to collaborate effectively. 

5. Provide opportunities for different people to work together

When we talk about teamwork, we mean across your entire organization. To prevent your employees from working in silos, create cross-functional teams. What exactly does that mean? That decision-making and ideation can happen across departments. 

Give different teams the opportunity to work together and share ideas. For example, set up a weekly cross-departmental meeting for your marketing and sales departments, or create a persistent project room in Switchboard where your design and engineering teams can go to swap ideas. 

Upskill and develop your team

A strong team that works together well doesn’t just happen: It’s built. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to develop your team so they know how to best collaborate and communicate. Here are five strategies for improving teamwork skills across your organization. 

6. Create a culture of great communication

Communication is the number one skill for teamwork, meaning your team needs to understand the principles of active listening, feedback, and clarity. “The biggest thing that can help solidify communication skills is being clear about your own intentional outcome,” adds Tarah. So, be sure to set an example of honesty and transparency from the top. 

You can also check your team’s understanding and encourage a culture where being curious and asking questions is celebrated. In fact, you can even create a digital space for it. With Switchboard, for example, employees can communicate in real time or async with video, audio, chat, polls, and emoji reactions–whatever best suits them. ‍

7. Set up knowledge-sharing sessions 

As mentioned above, if you want teamwork to thrive, it’s essential to create opportunities for different people to work together. That means organizing team meetings or knowledge-sharing sessions, whether they’re related to a specific project or bigger picture ideas, where your employees can share their expertise, ask questions, and learn from each other. 

These brainstorming sessions can also be an opportunity for you to practice effective communication and active listening with your employees, learning from their unique skills sets and knowledge. “To build teamwork, listen to what your team has to say,” says Tarah. “Give yourself enough time to ask important questions and receive responses.”

Switchboard daily standup room
Set up a persistent knowledge-sharing room in Switchboard where your people can go to brainstorm, ideate, and ask questions in real-time or async. Source: Switchboard

8. Foster a culture of continuous learning and development

Ongoing learning and development is essential to building a successful team, so support your employees to continuously upskill and progress in their careers. Not only will this have a positive impact on team performance, but will also help you improve teamwork, as you can train employees on communication and collaboration skills. 

Providing ongoing feedback and coaching is a key element here. Tell your employees what they’re doing well and where they can improve, and give them the guidance and support they need to fulfill their potential. 

9. Demonstrate ownership and accountability

To motivate as a team leader, you need to start by setting a good example. That means demonstrating ownership and accountability over your actions, decisions, and policies. In other words, lead by example.

So if you require your entire team to participate in a training session on collaboration, you should be there as well. Or if one of your company values is transparency and honesty, keep your team consistently in the know, even when the news isn’t as positive as you’d like. 

10. Give team members the chance to take initiative and lead

While your role as a leader is essential to fostering good teamwork, you also need to give your people a chance to lead. Allow your employees to take initiatives that play to their individual strengths and help them feel like an essential member of the team. 

For example, rotate the responsibility of leading team meetings, letting each employee have some autonomy over the meeting structure and agenda. Or encourage each employee to lead workshops and training sessions in their own areas of expertise. 

Focus on team culture 

Bee hive culture centers on collaboration and shared goals. On the same note, if you want to build more teamwork in the workplace, you need to create an open, inclusive culture that makes your people want to work together. We have five tips for how to do that. 

11. Build a positive and respectful work environment

Teamwork can’t happen without trust, which is why creating a culture centered on respect is at the center of creating a collaborative organization. To build a positive work environment, create policies and guidelines that build trust and mutual respect. 

For example, develop strong, ongoing diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives to ensure everyone feels comfortable and welcome in your workplace. Additionally, provide employees the opportunity to share honest anonymous feedback so you can consistently make the changes your people want to see.  

12. Celebrate successes and milestones

Feedback is a big part of effective communication, but constructive criticism is only one part of that. To boost employee engagement and make everyone feel appreciated, celebrate your team–both their individual successes as well as company-wide milestones. 

For example, create a #wins channel in Slack where you share team member shout outs and celebrate company successes. Or create a dedicated section in your company newsletter where you recognize milestones for employees and highlight overall team success. 

13. Provide opportunities for team-building activities

Though your team may work together on their projects every day, it’s important they get to know each other on a more personal level in order to better understand and empathize with each other. That’s why you should organize team-building exercises that help your employees connect in a more relaxed setting. 

But remember–no one likes forced fun. So send your employees a survey on what type of team building activities they’d like to participate in, as well as the format (in-person vs. online). Some ideas include escape rooms or coffee chats, both of which are fit for either in-person or remote teams.

Switchboard games room
Create a games room in Switchboard to give your employees a place to connect and unwind. Source: Switchboard

14. Encourage camaraderie and team spirit

Anyone who’s been part of a team knows how powerful camaraderie and a sense of belonging can be. While you don’t want to create a cutthroat environment, you can encourage team spirit and healthy competition on your team. 

For example, host an “innovation challenge” that encourages employees to propose creative solutions to challenges your company faces, and offer rewards, like extra PTO, to whoever has the best idea. Or run a “personal development” contest to motivate your employees to complete trainings and courses. 

15. Embed work-life balance into the company culture

No matter how much they enjoy their role, your employees’ job satisfaction hinges on how well it meshes with their personal life. When they’re happier in their role, your people will be more motivated to collaborate with each other, which is why work-life balance should be a pillar of your company’s culture. 

Encourage employees to take time off, allowing them to fully disconnect. This is another place where managers can lead by example. That means no emails or messages after working hours or on weekends. Additionally, when you’re on vacation, turn on that OOO email reply, close Slack, and trust your people to do their jobs. 

Put team building at the center of your organization

Without effective teamwork, bees wouldn’t be able to produce the honey that keeps them alive (and gives us a deliciously sweet ingredient). Their efforts reach far beyond their hives, as they support the growth of trees, plants, and flowers through pollination. 

Similarly, when your employees come together and work as a team, the results reach far beyond getting better results and hitting KPIs: You’ll see improved team productivity, more employee engagement, and greater innovation and resilience. 

To spark truly great teamwork in your employees, you need to foster the trust necessary for taking risks and going after big goals. You also need to give your people the right resources and collaboration tools for working together effectively. 

With Switchboard, your people have a centralized place to organize their projects and stay in constant communication, whether it’s a spontaneous brainstorming session or a weekly ideation meeting. By giving them a digital workspace, you make teamwork effortless for your employees. 

Want your team to work together? Give them a place to do just that.  
Switchboard fosters team collaboration through intuitive, visual meeting and project rooms, helping you build a more connected team. 
Learn more

Frequently asked questions about building teamwork in the workplace

How can I improve my teamwork skills?

In order to improve your teamwork skills, you’ll want to focus on other related skills like communication, active listening, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and collaboration. Additionally, you need to be clear on your team’s goal, as well as your individual responsibilities. Be sure to clarify how your role plays a part in reaching this greater goal and what knowledge and experience you can bring to the table. 

How can I nurture team spirit?

There are a number of ways you can nurture team spirit in your organization. First off, ensure your team is organized and aligned on goals and responsibilities. Secondly, upskill and develop your team so they have everything they need to work together effectively. Finally, build a team culture that prioritizes and encourages collaboration and open communication.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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Want your team to work together? Give them a place to do just that.

Switchboard fosters team collaboration through intuitive, visual meeting and project rooms, helping you build a more connected team.