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How collaboration improves performance and builds happier teams
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How collaboration improves performance and builds happier teams

What’s all the hype about collaboration? See why it’s good for team performance and learn how you can help your team work better together.

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Ever seen a Formula 1 pit stop? If you blink, you might miss it. The average F1 pit stop takes about two and a half seconds, with the world record clocking in at just 1.82 seconds (set by the Red Bull Racing team at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix).1 

Changing four tires in less than three seconds requires the concentration and coordination of over 20 people, with each member of the pit crew performing a unique and crucial role. And while pit stops are only a small fraction of what goes into winning a Formula 1 race, you can certainly see some correlation between collaboration in the pit lane and overall success. 

In 2022, Red Bull Racing won the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award for the fifth consecutive year and the team’s driver, Max Verstappen, took home the F1 World Championship title for the second year in a row. 

So while you can’t attribute the team’s success solely to their pit stop speeds, it’s clear that Red Bull Racing’s ability to coordinate everyone on their team and work towards a common goal helped lead them to win 17 races that season. 

The same is true for your organization: Simply put, collaborative teams perform better. But just as it takes years to build and train a strong Formula 1 team, people won’t always naturally work together unless you show them how. 

That’s why you need to develop the soft skills that encourage collaborative working—both in yourself and in your team. In this article, we explain how teamwork can help improve performance, the key soft skills that improve collaboration, and how you can encourage your people to work cohesively. 

Help your team work together better
Switchboard gives your people a collaborative digital workspace that makes it easy to communicate, brainstorm, and share ideas–both real-time and async. 
Learn more

How collaboration improves team performance

When Formula 1 teams collaborate well, they win grands prix and even world championships. When businesses get their teams to work together, they can see the benefits of collaboration firsthand: Better business performance, happier teams, and higher employee retention. 

For example, the Harvard Business Review references case studies that demonstrate collaboration can improve financial results by 17% and annual revenue by 34%. That’s because when you get your team to coordinate their efforts, you get to leverage everyone’s best characteristics and skills. 

Plus, getting your people to communicate well can help you save time and improve team productivity. Instead of spending hours trying to debug their code on their own, encouraging your employees to join heads and do some pair programming can help them find solutions much quicker. 

Finally, fostering a culture of teamwork at your company gives your employees a better experience, plain and simple. And when your people feel engaged and supported at your organization, it becomes easier to retain them. 

That same Harvard Business Review article cites that hires who work on other team members’ projects and receive support on theirs are at least 65% more likely than less engaged coworkers to stick around long enough to become productive and profitable at their company.

“We wouldn’t exist without collaboration, plain and simple. So much of our business is built on trust–not just between our team and our clients, but within our company, whether that be across departments or within a specific one.” - Alex Melone and Andrei Marin, co-founders of Code Crew.
Formula 1 Renault team pit stop
Pit stops are a perfect example of how valuable successful collaboration can be.

The 5 key soft skills that improve collaboration 

Everyone can learn how to work well on a team, but some employees may not yet be equipped with the knowledge and experience they need to properly collaborate. So look out for these soft skills when hiring, and work to cultivate them in yourself and your existing employees. 


Collaboration and communication go hand in hand. On a Formula 1 team, drivers are in constant contact with their strategy engineers, giving feedback about the performance of the car and reporting on the state of their tires so they know exactly when to pit. 

And engineers are continuously updating their drivers about where the other cars on the track are and how big the gap is between the car ahead or behind them. 

In an organization, having effective collaboration hinges on the ability of your team members to effectively communicate. This goes both ways: Employees should both have skills that enable them to actively listen, as well as clearly express their thoughts. 


In order to collaborate with someone, you need to put yourself in their shoes. So even though Hannah Schmitz, Red Bull Racing’s principal strategy engineer, isn’t out on the track herself, she’s constantly weighing critical decisions and supporting Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Pérez with information that could make or break their race day. 

And while your back-end engineers aren’t responsible for what your product looks like to users, they need to be able to understand the motives and desires of front-end developers and UX designers. 

That’s why it’s so critical that employees are able to empathize with their team members. This soft skill stops misunderstandings from getting in the way of a project’s progress, and it makes the collaboration experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. 

Conflict management

The ability to empathize is directly connected to the ability to manage conflicts. Because let's face it—if your team can’t comprehend how their coworkers feel, they won’t be able to reach a consensus when disagreements arise. 

Conflict management doesn’t have to be negative: The key here is understanding the pillars of negotiation, like being able to think up creative solutions and compromise when necessary. 

So for collaboration to run smoothly, your team needs to know how to manage conflicts as they arise and, even more importantly, prevent them from happening in the first place. 


In a Formula 1 race, engineers and drivers are required to change courses at a moment's notice, calling an unexpected pit stop or adapting their driving style to track conditions. Employees must also be highly adaptable to work well with their team members. 

When you’re completing a task alone, you’re in control of just about every variable. But when you rely on others to achieve a common goal, there are so many elements that can change depending on team member availability or unexpected delays. 

So being able to adapt to unexpected twists and turns in a project, whether that’s a coworker forgetting to turn something in or unexpected delays from an external contractor, is essential for teams working well together. 


Collaboration helps organizations come up with unique solutions to complex issues, but only if they possess the right problem-solving skills. These include critical and analytical thinking, quick decision-making, creativity, and the ability to define problems. 

Without the abilities that help employees identify what exactly the issue is while coming up with a creative solution, it’s easy for them to stay in the brainstorming stage without taking any actual concrete action. 

But when team members possess the ability to think critically while staying innovative, they can combine their unique and diverse ideas to reach a solution that’s better than what one team member could come up with themself. 

How to encourage real team collaboration 

You’ll find collaboration at every level of a high-end racing team, but you can also create it within your organization. With these strategies, you can develop a team that communicates openly and works cohesively. 

Create the right company culture  

Workplace collaboration starts with your company culture: Your core values should encourage communication, empathy, and trust, and you should live these principles every day. 

“Be clear on your company mission and vision statements and read them at the beginning of every [all-hands] meeting,” advises Ashley Russo, founder and president of ASR Media. “It’s a gentle reminder of what your business stands for and expects from the team.” 

Most importantly, create a work environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas because they know their opinions are valid. This starts at a peer level and goes all the way up to you—lead by example and treat your people with respect, using active listening and empathy to do so. 

But remember, creating company culture doesn’t happen overnight. It requires ongoing work of bringing your people together through trust and mutual respect. Ashley explains: “Being open-minded and listening were the key factors that helped us find success through collaboration. This didn’t happen overnight and required consistent reliable actions and behaviors to move the needle.”

Use the right tools

Even the teams with the most inclusive company culture may still end up working in silos if they don’t have the right collaboration tools. So use software that helps your team stay in touch at every stage of the workflow, from brainstorming and ideation to project management and delivery. 

Messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams help your team stay in contact, but you need to take things a step further to empower your employees to share knowledge and work together, both in real-time and async (especially if you run a remote or hybrid team). 

For example, Switchboard’s collaboration software has persistent rooms, meaning your employees always know where to find the information they need for a specific project, even between meetings. Plus, team members can work together in any web-based app, document, or file in these interactive, multiplayer spaces.

Switchboard design room
Help your team work together and share ideas by giving them a tool like Switchboard. Source: Switchboard

Get team buy-in

Forcing a collaborative environment on your employees isn’t going to get you very far. People need to know why they’re collaborating in order to fully buy into it, so be sure to help your employees understand the bigger picture. 

Explain to your employees the ways working together can benefit them. This includes: 

  • Less time searching for information
  • Skills and knowledge sharing for professional development 
  • Better relationships with their coworkers
  • Improved innovation and output on projects
  • Higher levels of support and less burnout

When you get everyone’s buy-in for stakeholder collaboration, your employees will have a greater sense of purpose and ownership over their role and be willing to work together towards broader team goals. 

Develop key soft skills 

Everyone has something to bring to the table with their unique skill set, but there are certain practices and behaviors your employees may not have in their tool kit yet. So help them develop these soft skills with collaboration training.

For this to be a success, you need to establish psychological safety in your organization, so your employees know there are no wrong answers or bad ideas. Practicing skills like active listening and conflict management can be intimidating, so be intentional about creating an environment free of judgment where your people feel comfortable learning these different skills they might not have prior experience with. 

“Be patient and trust the process. In my experience, most people want to have the opportunity to be collaborative but may have past experiences that hold them back. As a leader, it is our job to bring out the best in our team and give them the time and resources to grow to their full potential.” — Ashley Russo, Founder and President of ASR Media

Incentivize and reward collaboration 

Giving your employees incentives to work together can be incredibly valuable when creating a collaborative workplace. Traditionally, companies have incentivized competition. And while some friendly contests can be healthy, you want your people working together towards shared goals, not focusing on achieving their individual ones. 

So make collaboration a core value your people are assessed on—the higher score they get in their performance review, the higher their bonus or portion of the profit share they receive at the end of the quarter. Ask your employees’ direct manager and peers to share their feedback about how well they communicate and work in a team so you know they’re being assessed fairly. 

These rewards don’t have to be financial, though. Publicly praise your employees when they collaborate well, shouting them out in Slack channels or company-wide meetings.

Screenshot of a #wins channel on Slack
Create a #wins channel and encourage your employees to shout each other out when they collaborate or help others do their job better.

Build collaboration into daily work 

Collaboration isn’t just something you talk about in your values or build through isolated exercises—it should be integrated into everything your team does. So rather than depending on a monthly team building exercise to get your team to communicate better, empower them to collaborate in their daily work. 

This ties directly into encouraging teamwork rather than incentivizing competition, as well as ensuring your team has the right software to collaborate. With a tool like Switchboard, give your team a permanent space where they can pop in whenever they want to share their suggestions or run something by their coworkers. 

And emphasize the importance of collaboration when assigning tasks for a project: Though each person will have their own responsibilities, make it clear that employees are encouraged to work together to share information and ideas. 

Switchboard daily standup room
Switchboard gives your employees a space to collaborate, making spontaneous interactions possible on teams that don’t always meet in person. Source: Switchboard

Understand what collaboration isn’t 

More communication, endless meetings, and forcing people to work together aren’t the answer. Collaboration is about building an environment where everyone feels respected and can combine their individual strengths to reach a better result as a team.

So when you set out to foster collaboration on your team, start at the source. Instead of requiring your team to have more brainstorming calls, create a culture that encourages your team to put their heads together and think of collective solutions. 

And rather than asking your people to attend an endless series of unengaging, one-sided meetings, give them a collaborative digital workspace like Switchboard—where they can always get together and share ideas. 

Help your people work together better for a happier team and better results

This year Red Bull Racing is leading the pack, but in the past, Formula 1 teams like Ferrari and Mercedes have also dominated the field. And there’s a key thing all these teams have in common (well, aside from having hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal): Their ability to collaborate.  

Formula 1 drivers may get all the attention on race day, but they couldn’t do it without their team. It’s the coordination of 1,000-plus people, including engineers, mechanics, and trainers, that are responsible for putting Max Verstappen or Sergio Pérez up on the podium. 

Similarly, the success of your business depends on your team’s ability to communicate and work together cohesively. So help your people develop the right skills and give them the tools they need to collaborate, like Switchboard. 

Because when your team has one central place to work together, you’ll quickly see the benefits, both for your people and your performance. 

Help your team work together better
Switchboard gives your people a collaborative digital workspace that makes it easy to communicate, brainstorm, and share ideas–both real-time and async. 
Learn more

Frequently asked questions about how collaboration improves performance

How does collaboration improve productivity?

Collaboration improves productivity in a number of ways. First off, it brings people with unique viewpoints and experiences together, helping teams come up with unique solutions quicker. Additionally, working together allows teams to divide tasks and responsibilities based on each person’s strengths, helping everyone get the job done quicker. 

How does collaboration improve skills?

The main way collaboration improves skills is through knowledge sharing, as team members get the chance to learn from each other. Also, teamwork helps employees improve their communication skills, as it requires them to learn how to actively listen, clearly express their ideas, and negotiate when necessary. 

How can individual performance be improved through collaboration?

Collaboration improves individual performance because it exposes employees to the different ideas and experiences of their team members, giving them new perspectives and knowledge. And since teamwork helps foster key skills like communication and negotiation, employees can then apply these newfound abilities to their work as a whole.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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Help your team work together better

Switchboard gives your people a collaborative digital workspace that makes it easy to communicate, brainstorm, and share ideas–both real-time and async.