Want to increase team efficiency, meet your goals, and avoid burnout? Check out our expert guide of 5 ways teamwork improves productivity.
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In ancient Persia, around 550 BCE, King Darius the Great established the most efficient postal system of its time. Stretching over 1,600 miles, the Royal Road facilitated effective communication, trade, and governance across the empire. Royal couriers used the road to cover long distances while on official business, stopping whenever necessary at relay stations that were equipped with horses and supplies.
While you don’t need an ancient marvel at your workplace to communicate with each other and get things done, you still need effective teamwork. When teams know how to work together, they perform better. However, joint working can be difficult if information silos, lack of team building, and poor communication get in the way.
To build a positive, collaborative culture and get people working together efficiently, you need to understand and communicate the benefits of teamwork at your organization. You also need to be intentional about guiding your team to work together better. This includes figuring out why collaboration isn’t working, knowing what productivity looks like for your team, and playing to individual strengths to make your team greater than the sum of its parts.
With that in mind, in this article, you’ll read about how teamwork improves productivity and how to guide team members to work more productively together. You’ll also learn more about how Switchboard’s collaborative digital workspace helps make productivity part of your company culture.
Get your teams working better together to avoid burnout.
With Switchboard’s collaborative digital workspace, your people can work together more easily and get more done both in real time and async.
How does teamwork improve productivity?
Working together improves team productivity by pooling diverse skills, ideas, and perspectives. When your team is collaborating well, tasks can be distributed efficiently, reducing the burden on individuals and increasing overall output. In fact, one study found that when tasks are complex, like brainstorming or designing a new product or campaign, teams are more effective than individuals.
A supportive team that communicates effectively also helps individuals feel more engaged and motivated, which in turn fuels creativity and problem-solving. Let’s take a look at these benefits in more detail.
1. Get diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences
Collectively, your team has more life and professional experience than any single team member. Together they can solve problems more quickly and effectively, spotting more opportunities and potential blockers than they would alone.
The more ways there are to look at a problem, the easier it is to solve it. A recent McKinsey report confirms this: When you bring people from diverse backgrounds and experiences together, they’re more likely to be creative and outperform their homogeneous counterparts by 35%.
For example, imagine a marketing team launching a new product. Rhiannon, the creative genius, shares some ideas for eye-catching graphics with the design team. Rob, who used to work as a freelance content writer, helps craft a compelling brand message. Bree, who knows Google Analytics like the back of her hand, helps the team analyze metrics like traffic and user behavior so they can make more data-backed decisions.
The results? A successful product launch.
Finally, teams with different skill sets and interests can adapt more quickly to shifting demands and changing circumstances. In a multifaceted, successful team, almost 80% of individuals are better prepared to adapt to business challenges and grow revenue in the long term, according to Asana’s 2023 Anatomy of Work report.
2. Learn from each other
When team members share what they know and learn from each other, the whole team becomes smarter. By exchanging expertise and best practices, your people can become more capable in their current roles, improving flexibility and efficiency when dealing with different tasks and problems.
For example, let’s say you’re the head of content at a small content marketing agency. Some team members might have prior knowledge of AI and its applications in content marketing, while others might be completely new to the concept. By organizing learning sessions or workshops, you can encourage team members to teach each other the basics of AI, its potential uses in content creation, and how it can help them be more productive.
You can also learn from each other’s mistakes, which can help you avoid making them yourself. Mistakes are inevitable, but they are also valuable opportunities to learn and improve. When you work in a team, you can see how others handle their errors, how they fix them, and how they prevent them from happening again.
This helps you save time and improve the quality of your work. It also lets you build trust and a sense of camaraderie with your team members by showing that you are willing to learn from them and that you value their input.
3. Be ready to “Yes, and…” every idea
"Yes, and" is a practice within improv theater that’s all about accepting and adding to others' ideas, letting actors come up with more creative, engaging shows. In a strong team, there are more opportunities to acknowledge and build upon each other's ideas, which leads to more creativity and benefits both teams and clients.
Imagine a design team at a web development company that has gathered to brainstorm ideas for a new website interface. Instead of shooting down suggestions, team members embrace the 'Yes, and...' mentality. One designer proposes a unique layout, and others build upon it, suggesting innovative features and interactive elements. Through this exchange, the team can come up with a design that surpasses their individual ideas.
However, keep in mind that this level of teamwork and communication can only happen if your team has the right interactive meeting tools or collaboration platforms to brainstorm ideas. These platforms give you what you need to share documents, work side-by-side, and make progress both in real-time and async.
For example, Switchboard’s digital collaboration workspace lets you integrate all your files, media, documents, and browser-based apps together, no integrations needed. Its interactive, multiplayer rooms let everyone work together on the same things without needing to share their screen or watch one person present at a time. Plus, those rooms save your work so you never have to waste time searching for information or prep another meeting again.
4. Share accountability
When working in a team, your people are responsible not just for their own tasks, but also for the success of the entire team. This heightened accountability leads to a great sense of ownership, motivation, and responsibility.
Imagine a tech startup's product team developing a new mobile app, with engineers, designers, and testers in specialized, interdependent roles. The engineers know that their code directly impacts the success and functionality of the app while the designers understand that their creative input influences user experience and engagement. The testers are also aware that their thorough evaluations ensure a bug-free experience.
Each team member has specific responsibilities, but they’re all ultimately responsible for the app's success. Throughout the process, they hold regular team meetings and progress updates to openly discuss challenges and roadblocks.
Everyone feels responsible not just for their individual tasks but also for addressing any bottlenecks that might hinder the overall progress. This helps them enhance the overall output quality and even speed up the development timeline.
5. Reduce burnout
When people support each other, share the workload, and build strong relationships, they’re less likely to experience burnout. That’s because by identifying themselves as part of a team, people can adopt a more collective perspective that serves as a buffer to stress. Asana’s report also found that 92% of workers at collaborative organizations find value in their work, which leads to more job satisfaction and productivity.
Picture a busy sales team at a software company. Each person has tough sales goals and tight deadlines, which can cause burnout when they work in silos. But, when they come together to share strategies, they reach their goals faster and feel more supported in their work. By collaborating, they pool their expertise, motivate each other, and celebrate successes together.
The sense of belonging and camaraderie that comes with joint working also boosts morale across the entire team, especially if you create a culture that rewards teamwork. This means recognizing and celebrating group achievements, practicing and encouraging active listening, and fostering psychological safety so team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review study found that employees who are well-connected and work together regularly and effectively, are 65% more likely than more isolated peers to stay long enough at the company to become productive and profitable.
The same study also reported that when teamwork is cross-silo, meaning between different teams and departments, companies are more likely to cope with a volatile competitive environment, innovate faster, and grow their bottom line.
How to guide more productive teamwork
Now that you know the five ways teamwork can improve productivity in your organization, here are some strategy to help your people work together more efficiently:
- Understand and address barriers to collaboration. According to Slack’s 2023 State of Work report, these mainly include lacking access to effective tools and software, information silos, toggling between disconnected apps, and feeling disconnected from colleagues. To help your people build stronger relationships, encourage team collaboration activities and hold regular 1:1 meetings. Additionally, adopt an online workspace that brings all their tools, documents, and files in one place.
- Get team and stakeholder buy-in. Understanding and communicating the benefits of teamwork, and of having external stakeholders involved, helps get everyone on the same page. Getting your people involved in team productivity audits also helps you find solutions that work for the majority. For example, involving both the marketing and development teams in a product launch helps them understand each other's needs, overcome productivity blockers, and work together more effectively. They feel more motivated and supported, knowing that teamwork leads to better results and a smoother process.
- Understand what productivity looks like for your team. This means understanding how your team works best. Recognize their strengths, areas of growth, and preferred communication and work styles. When you know how they operate best, you can set clear goals and measure team productivity more accurately. If you work with creatives like designers or writers, for example, you might find that they need regular periods of “focus time” where they don’t get involved in meetings or check their emails.
- Allow for flexibility. Slack’s data found that workers who are most productive are able to embrace flexible work and have a choice over the meetings they attend, which leads to more focused sessions. Giving your team more ownership over their time can increase efficiency by letting them work when they’re most productive. Finally, if they’re working to their preferred schedules they’re less likely to burn out.
- Allocate work based on strengths. This means assigning tasks to team members that match their individual skills and abilities so they can complete them more quickly and easily. For example, if someone is great at problem-solving and critical thinking, involve them in finding solutions to complex challenges. If someone else excels at organizing and coordinating, give them project management responsibilities.
- Provide opportunities for continuous development. Over time, your team will need reskilling and upskilling to suit your evolving company and industry. For example, the software bought in 2021 will have new updates and features to learn about in 2023. Learning and development should be embedded in your team culture to ensure that everyone has the skills they need to complete their own work—and to work together better. And, as technologies like AI advance, your people need to know how to use them to make their jobs easier.
- Improve team communication. Honest, transparent, and two-way conversations are the best way to build trust and understanding between your people, which helps them be more productive and cohesive. Give your team the tools they need to communicate spontaneously, synchronously, and asynchronously—whether they’re in a meeting, in a brainstorming session, or working in different time zones.
- Set up a productive environment. Create the conditions for people to get more done together. For example, you can use interactive meetings tools to have more productive meetings and tackle tasks together. Making sure you have well-documented processes is also crucial to helping your people find the information they need to be productive whether they’re working simultaneously or async.
How to use Switchboard to make teamwork part of your company culture
Switchboard is designed for cross-team collaboration and helps organizations—whether they’re in person, remote, or a little bit of both—connect and get stuff done in intuitive meeting rooms.
You and your people can create persistent virtual rooms for anything from brainstorming and spontaneous meetings to connecting with clients and design reviews. The best part is that Switchboard rooms remember everything you put in them so you can pick up right where you left off next time.
For example, let’s say you’re brainstorming on a design with your team. You can open all the browser-based apps, files, documents, and media you need in the dedicated room. When you have all you need, like your Figma board and briefs, you and your people can work together simultaneously, without having to take turns sharing their screens.
Need some quick feedback from your colleague in marketing? No problem, just ping them and if they’re available, they can just jump in without needing a meeting invite.
Switchboard gives your teams a permanent place to go and work side-by-side or at different times. For example, let’s say a team member can’t make it to the brainstorming session. You can easily record the meeting and save it right there in the room so they can find it. You can also leave sticky notes to make it easier for them to catch up.
As an added bonus, they can use the automation feature to summarize the sticky notes so they get on the same page even quicker. Want to see Switchboard in action? Check out the video below to see how project rooms work.
The Power of Collaboration: How Teamwork Improves Productivity
What do ancient Persian couriers and modern employees have in common? To achieve their goals, whether it’s delivering messages and government orders across an empire or hitting ambitious KPIs, they need to work together.
It’s no secret that information silos, unclear expectations, lack of supportive relationships, and poor communication can get in the way of productivity. But it’s also true that teamwork improves productivity.
To get your people collaborating, you need to actively take steps towards communicating the benefits of teamwork, and guide them in working together better. Some of these benefits include more knowledge sharing, getting diverse perspectives and skills together, a lower risk of burnout, and shared accountability.
To increase team efficiency and hit goals, you also need to understand what productivity looks like for your team, discover barriers to productivity, and assign responsibilities based on individual strengths.
Finally, to create high-performing teams, give them the tools they need to communicate effectively and work together better. It doesn’t have to be a 1,600-mile-long ancient road with relay stations either: Switchboard’s digital collaborative workspace does this by giving your people a centralized source of truth where they can find each other, work side-by-side on browser-based apps and files, and get more done together—wherever, whenever.
Get your teams working better together and avoid burnout.
With Switchboard’s collaborative digital workspace, your people can work together more easily and get more done both in real time and async.
Frequently asked questions about how teamwork improves productivity
1. What is team productivity?
Team productivity refers to the level of efficiency and effectiveness with which a group of individuals work together to achieve common goals. It's the measure of how well the team utilizes resources, communicates, and works together to accomplish tasks and deliver results. Maximizing team productivity means you can accomplish more in less time, ultimately driving success.