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Real life examples of collaboration in the workplace to inspire your teams
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Real life examples of collaboration in the workplace to inspire your teams

We all know what teamwork means, but what does it look like in practice? See 5 real-life examples of collaboration in the workplace to get inspired.

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Greta wants to plant a vegetable patch in her garden but worries it’s too big of a commitment. What if she ends up spending a fortune on expensive fertilizers and it doesn’t thrive? What if she moves? Who will take care of it when she goes on vacation? 

Greta’s concerns are valid: A long-term project like this is always a risky commitment and it can be a long while before it bears fruit. That’s why she opted for getting an allotment with a neighbor instead. Now, they can share the work of caring for the garden and both get to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of their joint labor.  

Planting in a community garden can be similar to working with others in your company to achieve your organizational goals. It takes time to see the result, but you have the satisfaction of knowing you’re working together toward something bigger than yourself.

That can be easier said than done, though. People talk a lot about the importance of collaboration, but without examples, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. That’s why learning from real-life examples of collaboration in the workplace will help you figure out how to apply these lessons to your own teams.  

In this piece, you’ll find real examples of collaboration in different companies and situations. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be ready to plant the seeds of teamwork in your organization.

Make it easy for your team to collaborate online 
Switchboard’s async-first collaboration platform comes with persistent project rooms where teams can get more done together. 
Learn more

5 real examples of collaborations in the workplace

There’s a lot of research out there about the importance of building a collaborative work environment, but information on how to actually do it is harder to come by. 

To help your research on collaboration training, we’ve found real examples of workplace collaboration in a range of companies for different purposes: working on projects, connecting global and cross-functional teams, managing client communications, and reaching shared goals. Below is a list of five examples of successful collaboration to help you envision what it could look like on your team.  

1. Collaboration on projects - Switchboard 

Switchboard is an async-first collaboration platform designed for highly collaborative teams that makes everything multiplayer. Here’s how its team members leverage each person’s skill set to reach project goals. 

The problem

The Switchboard team found that every time they launched a product or feature, they started from scratch and didn’t follow a standard procedure. This was causing them to waste time and, without a place to record all previous learnings, people kept making the same mistakes. 

They needed a way to standardize and document processes for feature and product launches. This would let everyone use a template and follow the same playbook every time. 

What this async-first collaboration platform did

Switchboard meeting room with two opened files
Switchboard lets you work side by side on anything in the room during meetings and save materials in a dedicated project room for easy access. Source: Switchboard

Switchboard created a cross-functional playbook template using Notion to encourage knowledge sharing and document previous learnings. This made it easy for others to follow the same procedures to launch product updates in the future. They tested the playbook on a project, rolled out the initial template for the launch, and asked team members to share ideas. 

After gathering feedback, they updated the template based on their different perspectives and comments. Then, they assigned tasks to each person, used the playbook to track relevant metrics, and shared it with key stakeholders. 

Since the team keeps all project information in the same place, they included this playbook in their Switchboard project room, using the sections feature to keep it organized. Now everyone knows where to find the playbook and can lead a product launch using the Notion template. 

How collaboration solved the problem

The team was working in silos and had limited visibility of what others were doing. When they encouraged everyone to provide input, see the launch status, and track their tasks in a shared space, the project had fewer hiccups and everyone was able to work together and learn from each other. 

Promoting effective collaboration on the project made each team member more accountable and provided clarity about what was expected of them. They now also know what other people are working on and what’s pending just by accessing all project-related docs in their Switchboard room.

How to apply these learnings to your own team

  • Identify bottlenecks and lay out a process to solve them
  • Get cross-functional teams involved in building the solution
  • Give people the opportunity to brainstorm ideas and share feedback on processes in real time and async 
  • Assign clear projects roles and responsibilities to avoid duplicating efforts or forgetting to complete tasks
  • Provide a single source of truth for updates and ensure everyone knows where to find project related documents
“Collaboration happens when you make it part of your processes. Make sure each team member understands their role, has a platform for their voice to be heard, and has clear responsibilities. Most importantly, make the process of collaboration visible by documenting work in progress and creating a space where everything is easy to find.”—Deborah Kelson, Vice President of Marketing, Switchboard.  

2. Collaboration on global teams - Airbnb 

Airbnb is a well-known hospitality platform that offers short- and long-term stays. It needs to hire the best talent, even if people are located in multiple time zones. Here’s how Airbnb changed its working style to enable remote work and hire global talent.  

The problem

Airbnb stays picture compilation
Airbnb allows people to rent their property for short or long periods.

2020 showed us that people can work in different locations and still maintain high levels of productivity. Workers wanted the freedom to do their jobs from anywhere which made office-reliant companies like Airbnb less appealing to top talent. But hiring globally meant dealing with potential time zone, communication, and collaboration issues.

What this hospitality platform did

Airbnb wanted to maintain performance and build a strong shared culture. So it designed a policy for people to work and live from anywhere. In it, Airbnb mentions the need for platforms like video conferencing software, instant messaging apps, and project management tools to keep daily operations running smoothly. It also plans for quarterly in-person meet-ups for team building. Finally, people are expected to work at certain hours to have an overlap for synchronous work. 

How collaboration solved the problem

Teamwork is what makes Airbnb’s plan work. Besides using team collaboration tools, the company uses a shared calendar and a multi-year roadmap revolving around product launches to ensure successful remote work. 

The CEO is also thinking about redesigning in-person offices to open floor plans to promote teamwork—instead of working in siloed meeting rooms—for times when teams are together in person.

How to apply these learnings to your own team

  • Listen to the market and make internal changes to attract and retain top talent 
  • Communicate online but enable spaces for face-to-face interactions
  • Codify company goals and make them visible so everyone can work in sync Use the right collaboration tools for daily interactions and information sharing 
  • Eliminate siloed working and information
  • Ensure distributed teams overlap for a certain number of working hours every day  
“The response [to these changes] internally was great, but I was even more impressed with the response externally because our career page was visited 800,000 times after that announcement.”—Brian Chesky, CEO at Airbnb.

3. Collaboration on cross-functional teams - Figma  

Browser-based user interface (UI) design tool Figma needed to keep track of pending work in cross-functional teams without spending too many hours in meetings. Here’s how it did it. 

The problem

Figma employees were struggling to keep track of the engineer’s backlog and keep projects on course. This company was using a project management tool that didn’t give its teams the needed flexibility and was causing extra administrative tasks. 

Its employees needed to work in tandem with other departments—while each of them had different internal workflows. They also needed to collaborate without spending too much time on daily stand-up meetings. 

What this design tool did

Switchboard room displaying an Asana page open
If you use Asana for project management, you can open it in your Switchboard room and work side by side in real time or async on your own schedule. Source: Switchboard

Figma turned to Asana as an alternative to its original project management tool. It now uses Asana to create cross-functional or team-specific workflows and assign individual tasks. This allows Figma team members to have a clear view of pending work, so they spend less time in daily stand-up meetings and more time doing actual work. 

How collaboration solved the problem

Using a tool where everyone has visibility of projects’ status allows Figma employees to work more efficiently together, no matter which team they’re on. For the Figma team, project boards are now a unique source of truth as they allow everyone to collaborate, delegate, and interact with pending tasks to ensure project completion. 

How to apply learnings to your own team

  • Find tools that fit your internal workflows, not the other way around
  • Try and iterate until you find processes and tools that work for your teams
  • Keep everyone in the loop and communicate transparently in projects
  • Find ways and tools to work with your team online in real time and async, so you can progress outside of team meetings
  • Provide a source of truth for project work and information 
“We know when things are due and who’s going to deliver them, and we hold each other accountable. That trust is critical to a team’s success.”—Badrul Farooqi, Former Product Manager at Figma.

4. Collaboration with clients - Flying Cat Marketing 

Flying Cat Marketing is a digital marketing agency. It needed to come up with processes to ensure it delivers consistently high-quality work on time, is responsive to feedback, and gets great results for its clients. Here’s how Flying Cat did all that by improving its internal processes.

The problem

Early on, Flying Cat wasn’t getting enough client input before the writer started work. So when it came to clients approving content, it wasn’t always fully in line with what the client wanted to say. Content wasn’t meeting client expectations and writers were working extra hours to make in-depth edits.

What this marketing agency did

 Screenshot of Google Docs comments
Editors at Flying Cat Marketing and clients can leave comments for the writer within the briefs to ensure alignment. Source: Flying Cat Marketing

Client satisfaction and great results are two of the most important goals for this company, but it also values its team’s work-life balance. To keep everyone happy, the Flying Cat project manager ran internal project health checks, inviting everyone working on each client project to give feedback and brainstorm potential solutions. In parallel, the client account manager collected feedback from clients and shared it with the team.

As a result, Flying Cat introduced an outline approval stage to get the client’s input before writers start work. This involves sharing the skeleton outline and holding a call to get the client’s thoughts, make any changes necessary, and agree on the shape of the article before work starts. 

How collaboration solved the problem

After the agency sought ideas internally and externally to improve results, the articles were much more closely aligned with client expectations. Collaborating creatively like this led to better final results, less time spent on second drafts, a faster final draft review stage, and a better relationship with happier clients. Not to mention happier writers! 

How to apply learnings to your own team

  • Create spaces for problem-solving and invite everyone on the project to participate 
  • Actively listen to your client’s needs, but also take your people’s wellbeing into account
  • Ask for and act on client feedback, work on finding solutions together, and show clients you’re looking for ways to improve the results and relationship
  • Iterate until you find the right workflow and process 
  • Be flexible with your workflows to achieve client satisfaction
“We offer our clients different communication modes and we adjust to their preferred style—Slack, Loom, or meetings. We’re also quite flexible in the number of approval stages we offer, they can choose to opt in or out depending on the amount of time they can spend on edits and approvals.” —Robert Beames, Head of Editorial Content at Flying Cat Marketing.

5. Collaboration on goals - Financial Health Network

The Financial Health Network unites business leaders, policymakers, and innovators to design and implement solutions that improve financial health for all people. To achieve its objectives, this company needs everyone to row in the same direction.  

The problem

The Financial Health Network strives to come up with ever-better solutions for their clients, which can be rolled out across all portfolios. However, when goals exist independently of each other, it’s too easy for a team member to focus only on the tasks in front of them. For example, if they’re working toward a goal that impacts revenue, it’s tempting to focus on that rather than others. This might be beneficial for them and their individual client, but not for the organization as a whole—or, in the long run, other clients in its portfolio.

Therefore, the Financial Health Network needed to create a collaborative environment where teammates are willing and able to support each other to find the best solution for the client. 

What this network did

The company implemented shared team goals so everyone could be accountable for reaching all business objectives. To ensure personal development, everyone on the team also has one individual goal. 

Here’s what it looks like in practice: each person sets 3-4 individual goals (linked to a higher business objective) and a personal development target. Then, the leader reviews the group’s goals to guarantee they’re challenging yet achievable. Throughout the year, the manager shares progress updates, identifies which targets are on track, and looks for ways the team can support each other. 

How collaboration solved the problem

Collaboration is what empowers this company to achieve challenging objectives and great results. Having shared goals creates commitment and transparency for each team and other teams it collaborates with. When everyone is working together to reach set goals, they work in tandem to solve problems, and all share in the success. 

How to apply these learnings to your own team

  • Align individual goals with company ones 
  • Encourage your team to set goals for themselves so they own their performance and development
  • Foster accountability and transparency in teams that work together towards common goals
  • Make success a shared thing to motivate people to work together 
“The team comes together and collaborates on what their goals are based on the organizational goals. As a leader, you have to push them to make sure they're the right [goals], but then that creates commitment across the set of stakeholders, not just in your team but with other teams that they have to collaborate with.” —Andrea Galvez, Vice President of Client Success and Membership at Financial Health Network.

Real-life collaboration examples: Bring teamwork to life 

If Greta plants a seed and waters it frequently, eventually she’ll have a flourishing vegetable garden. Similarly, if you start cultivating collaboration in your company today, you can create a work environment where people come together to find solutions and move the needle on projects. 

Without clear collaboration examples or guidance, however, you may be in the dark about how to go about it. To turn the theory into a reality, get feedback from your internal project teams to develop playbooks; put systems, tools, and policies into place that enable people to work in a way that suits them; use the right communication, collaboration, and project management tools; gather feedback from internal and external stakeholders, including your clients; and work together to set and meet shared company and team goals. 

To simplify communication and collaboration management, you can also use an async-first collaboration platform like Switchboard that has dedicated project rooms and multiplayer browsers. It gives your people a place to find each other and get more done in real time or async. Share, store, and save all your work in one place—and make teamwork the best part of work.

Make it easy for your team to collaborate online.
Switchboard’s async-first collaboration platform comes with persistent project rooms and meeting rooms where teams can get more done together.
Learn more 

Frequently asked questions about real-life examples of collaboration in the workplace 

How do you show good collaboration at work?

To show good collaboration at work you need to:

  1. Over-communicate. Explain why you’re asking questions and what you expect from people and collaborative interactions.
  2. Get the right tools. Relying on video conferencing tools that depend on one-sided screen sharing makes it hard to get work done together. Instead, use an async-first collaboration platform like Switchboard that makes all your apps, documents, and files instantly multiplayer.
  3. Be open-minded and create a space where people feel safe contributing ideas. Avoid judging ideas during brainstorming sessions. Not all ideas or solutions will help but people need to feel they’re participating in a safe space, which encourages creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. 
  4. Don’t try to control everything. Sometimes the best thing a manager can do is to give their team space to come up with ideas and solutions by themselves.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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Make it easy for your team to collaborate online

Switchboard’s digital collaboration workspace comes with persistent project rooms where teams can get more done together.