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18 techniques to develop strong team collaboration
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18 techniques to develop strong team collaboration

Empower your team to perform better with our guide to developing strong team collaboration techniques

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Any good baker will tell you that a great cake is no accident. It’s all about combining the right ingredients, in the right order, in precise quantities, then baking at the correct temperature to make a whole that’s greater than its parts.

It’s the same with team collaboration. For a team that works better together than apart, you need basic principles (think good communication, trust, efficiency) combined with proven techniques (like transparency and clear process documents). Put all that into the right environment and your people will have everything they need to work together effectively. 

Perfecting your recipe for teamwork is essential—teams who collaborate well perform five times better than those that don’t.1 It takes work and intention to pull it off but, ultimately, team collaboration means more clarity and alignment, better ideas, and stronger team performance. 

That’s why, in this post, we’ll cover: 

  • The 7 foundational principles of strong collaboration
  • 18 techniques you can use to build on these foundations successfully
  • How digital collaboration software can help you do this much more efficiently
Strengthen your team’s collaboration skills for better results.
Switchboard’s digital workspace lets your teams collaborate more effectively—whether they’re in the same room or not. 
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7 foundations of strong collaboration

Strong team collaboration begins with a few foundational principles that will guide the choice of techniques you use. These principles include:

  • Effective communication. You can set the standard for great communication by making sure your people understand what’s expected of them and why. This is essential for team alignment and can also help prevent burnout, especially in remote work settings. For anyone to communicate well at work, they also need to feel safe to express their thoughts, feedback, and ideas. Practice active listening as a team and you’ll find communication really improves.
  • Empathy. This is key to creating an inclusive environment, which contributes to psychological safety. You and your team need to show you understand and support each other's perspectives, experiences, and emotions. When you do, people feel more free to speak up and know they will get support when they’re struggling. Empathy is particularly valuable in remote or hybrid teams with diverse backgrounds and working or communication styles.
  • Trust. This springs from open communication and empathy and helps foster mutual respect and transparency. When teams trust their leaders and each other, they’re more likely to work well together. Establishing trust involves taking responsibility for your work, ideas, and mistakes—and sharing lessons learned.
  • Creativity and positivity. This allows ideas to flow and innovation to flourish. When every suggestion is equally welcomed and valued, team members are empowered to think innovatively. This fosters more inspiring and effective brainstorming while also boosting problem-solving and innovative skills.
  • Efficiency. This involves respecting your team’s time, for example, by not letting meetings run on too long or inviting people to ones they don’t need to be in. It’s also about giving your team the time, tools, and information they need to do their job. For example, using a collaborative digital workspace so they can always find each other and get work done before, during, and after meetings. 
  • Accountability. This means ensuring everyone on your team, including you, takes responsibility for their actions, intentions, and comments. This ensures things get done well and on schedule, and everyone’s clear on who’s accountable for what. 

Now you know the guiding principles behind team collaboration, let’s take a look at the techniques you can use to start strengthening your team.

18 techniques for team collaboration

Team collaboration principles won’t just become part of your daily working practice by themselves: you need to be intentional about introducing them—whether it’s by improving team-wide communication or building trust in your people. Here, you’ll find useful techniques for strengthening each foundational principle with your team.

Effective communication

Effective communication is about providing clarity around your expectations and creating space for team members to ask questions and give feedback without fear of consequences. Try these techniques to improve communication at work.

A graphic of someone on a laptop, looking at a phone, with messages over the top.
Communicating clearly is even more important when your employees are working remotely or aren’t in the same location.

 1. Avoid language of blame 

Whether it’s you or your team giving feedback, it’s best to keep calm and always give the receiver the benefit of the doubt. To get your whole team onboard, encourage each other to avoid “you” statements, and instead begin with “I.” For example, rather than “Why are you late with this?”, try “I’ve noticed this task is past deadline. Do you need more time?”. Make it clear that the issue is with the task or task management, not with the person themselves. 

2. Radical candor 

Always be as honest as possible in your feedback, but without blaming anyone or making them feel attacked. Radical candor is about saying what you mean but in a constructive, caring way. You can be specific and clear and always emphasize that the common goal is to improve their work, not criticize them. 

3. Transparent communication

Be really honest with your team about why you’re asking them to do something, as well as about your own actions and motivations. Doing this makes your staff feel included and gets them on the same page, so they can be honest and open in turn. For example, a team lead in a marketing agency might temporarily remove a team member from their regular clients to work on a test project for a potential new client. When this happens, be sure to communicate the value of landing this new client for the company and clarify who will be covering their regular work for the duration. This boosts motivation and reduces stress because everyone knows what is happening.   

4. Assume positive intent 

Always assuming the best in people facilitates effective communication by showing that you believe in your team and their abilities. Even if your team member has acted in a way that you don’t understand, it’s better to assume their intent was positive and approach the issue from that direction. For example, if one of your developers is late on delivering the code you need, ask them whether there were any bottlenecks that prevented them from handing it in on time rather than jumping to conclusions. 

Listening and empathy 

You can improve your listening techniques and build empathy in several key ways. Active listening and improving your listening skills is especially crucial in a remote setting, as it’s often more difficult to interpret meaning over a call when it is harder to pick up on body language.

A view of the Switchboard dashboard with five users.
Switchboard’s persistent meeting rooms make it easy to jump into a quick huddle and talk in real time.

5. Active listening techniques

Active listening helps establish empathy and trust. It involves focusing completely on the other person in conversations, listening without judgment or interruptions, and checking you’ve understood properly by repeating or summarizing what they said. This shows them you’re really listening to them and understand their meaning. For example, if a client expresses concern about a new approvals workflow you’re introducing, you can summarize their words by saying “What I’m hearing is that you’re concerned about the time involved/how this will work. Is that right?”  

6. Give, receive, and act on feedback 

When you create a culture in which feedback is expected, and given in a constructive way, your team members will be more receptive and motivated to improve. Of course, it has to cut both ways, so your people need to feel safe giving feedback on your ideas and performance too. You can encourage this by proactively seeking feedback in different formats and being transparent about what you learned and what changes you made in response. For example, you could have regular performance reviews where both you and your team member rate each other on specific role requirements.

7. Show you’re paying attention 

Just as with active listening, showing you’re paying attention to your team members is one of the simplest but most effective ways to show them you empathize with their views and experiences. Even simple gestures like nodding and making eye contact–whether in-person or over a video call–can help. If you’re meeting online, emoji reactions are a great way to signal that you’re engaged with what people are saying. 


Your team will share ideas and work toward common goals much more readily when they trust you and their coworkers. You’ll also find that feedback is given and received more easily and teams become more resilient to change because they feel secure and supported in their roles. Here’s how to build trust with your team.

A view of the Switchboard dashboard with three team members in a daily standup call.
Creating a space where everyone can contribute to projects helps build trust and, therefore, collaboration.

8. Team building activities

Setting up regular team-building exercises and team collaboration activities helps to foster a sense of community. This is especially important if your team works remotely as it helps them feel connected to their coworkers. As well as dedicated activities, though, you also need to follow through by baking small, easy team-building activities into your daily work and practices to ensure they stick.  

A team collaboration tool like Switchboard lets you create permanent meeting rooms to host team-building activities like games or work side by side on projects. Using a digital workspace like this brings people together for easier, more enjoyable collaboration and communication. 

9. Set and respect boundaries

Setting and respecting boundaries helps your teams trust you and each other. This means you need to establish clarity on what’s expected and what’s acceptable. For example, not expecting people to check or reply to messages or attend meetings outside of their normal working hours. The same goes for actually disconnecting on vacation. And, of course, you need to practice what you preach here, too. 

10. Establish psychological safety  

Psychological safety involves developing a company culture where all team members feel that they can be themselves without ridicule or being judged for their values or ideas. In a psychologically safe space, your team members can speak their minds and trust they will receive a compassionate response. For example, if a team member has concerns about whether the messages a colleague is posting on social media are in line with your brand, they should feel safe to voice them. 


Being efficient means your team can spend less time looking for what they need. Instead, they’ll be focused on the task at hand and know exactly how to achieve their goals, whether that’s through live collaborative sessions or async working. Here’s how to improve efficiency.

A view of the Switchboard dashboard with the Recently Shared tab open.
Using a digital workspace like Switchboard makes it more efficient to share files and other resources during a collaboration session.

11. Give your team the right tools

Your team members will be much more efficient if they have the tools they need to work and communicate well, whether they’re meeting in real-time or collaborating and updating each other async. Some examples include Slack for instant messaging, Google Drive for file sharing, or Asana for project management. 

The best thing you can do, however, to boost efficiency is to make Switchboard the base of your tech stack. You can use all your favorite browser-based project management and communication tools inside its persistent rooms—no more switching between tools and tabs. You can also share and work on multimedia files and documents, or just hop in, work together, and share knowledge—whether you’re on a call or not. 

12. Clear processes

Boost team productivity and efficiency by documenting and rolling out clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each task or area of responsibility. This means documenting common tasks and including walkthroughs so anyone can understand how to do them to a consistently high standard—without waiting for others to show them. This is especially useful for remote teams that may be in different time zones. 

13. Automation

Using digital tools to automate time-consuming or repetitive manual tasks frees your team up to do more of what they do best. For example, salespeople can use tools like Mixmax to automate updating their customer relationship management (CRM) platform with new prospect information that comes in via inbound marketing. This frees them up to do high-value human tasks like craft more engaging cold emails or spend time talking to prospects.  


Accountability is an important value in any workplace, because it means that everyone is responsible for their own work as well as the overall success of the company. The first step to helping your team stay accountable is building a culture where making mistakes is understood to be a very normal, human part of any role. Here’s are the other techniques you need to encourage accountability:

A view of an Asana calendar open in a Switchboard room.
Open up your Asana calendar right within Switchboard so everyone can see what tasks they’re responsible for.

14. Ownership

Encourage everyone to take ownership of their ideas and work so that they feel empowered to suggest an idea and run with it. With this technique everyone commits to making things happen and taking charge of tasks so they get things done. Of course, they–and you–also need to own mistakes and commit to fixing them. For example, if you mess up on allocating customer success reps to an account, you need to own that and make it right by pulling people from another team or even apologizing to the client. 

15. Make collaboration count 

When you show your people the fruits of their collaboration–and that their time, work, and effort count for something–it helps motivate and inspire them to do even better.  

For example, you can measure key team performance indicators (KPIs) or reward team members for great collaboration or results. This shows you appreciate their work and value team efforts. Rewards don’t have to be financial, either. A shout-out on your dedicated Slack “wins” channel or making collaboration a checkbox in monthly assessments goes a long way. 

Encouraging creativity and positivity

A view of the Switchboard dashboard with two tabs and four users with their own cursors.
Using a collaborative workspace like Switchboard creates a space where your teams’ positivity and creativity can thrive.

Fostering a positive collaborative environment in which people actively work together to move work forward helps spark creativity and encourages knowledge-sharing and brainstorming. Here are some techniques to make it a reality.

16. Risk-taking

They say that “if you never risk failure, you ensure it.” So by allowing your team to take risks, you create the conditions for them to achieve success. If you’ve already created a psychologically safe work environment, you’re well on the way to achieving this. For example, you might give a new employee space to find their own way around a project and suggest ways to improve it. Or you might give an established team member more responsibility and see how they do. This can be scary, so reassure them there are no stupid questions or wrong answers. 

17. Brainstorming

Great projects often come out of great brainstorming. Allocate time to brainstorming at key points in each project, meeting, or coworking session so your team can collectively come up with new ideas or ways around persistent roadblocks. If you’re using Switchboard as your digital workspace for brainstorming sessions, its persistent rooms save your work, so you can brainstorm together in real-time and continue async afterward to continue the conversation.  

18. Cultivating a “yes, and” mindset 

One way to encourage more creativity and ideas–and successful collaboration–is by adopting a “yes, and…” mindset. This improv theater technique involves building on each idea put forward and running with it. For example, if your team lead suggests upselling a client on a new service, you can say “Yes, and we can also bundle it with other services in our premium package.” 

Team collaboration techniques: Start with strong guiding principles

High-performing teams need strong collaboration whether they work face-to-face or remotely, but it takes intention and planning to develop these skills among your people.

That’s why it makes sense to base collaboration techniques around a few key guiding principles. These include clear, effective communication, empathy, trust, creativity and positivity, accountability, and efficiency. 

Once you have those principles in place, put them into practice using the techniques we’ve covered in this piece. For example, active listening, two-way feedback, risk-taking, ownership, and establishing psychological safety. 

Finally, provide the right tools and space where collaboration can flourish, either remotely, in-person, or a mix of both. For example, a collaborative digital workspace like Switchboard. Its multiplayer experience and persistent rooms save your work and ensure everyone can get involved and contribute to brainstorming meetings or project work. 

Strengthen your team’s collaboration skills for better results.
Switchboard’s digital workspace lets your teams collaborate more effectively—whether they’re in a meeting or not. 
Sign up for free


The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), Purposeful Collaboration: The Essential Components of Collaborative Cultures, January 2023

Frequently asked questions about team collaboration techniques 

What is effective team collaboration?

Effective team collaboration is built on strong foundations like clear communication, empathy, trust, efficiency, accountability, creativity, and positivity. Building on these principles means implementing techniques like avoiding the language of blame, being honest, assuming positive intent, welcoming feedback, and establishing psychological safety. 

Why is team collaboration important?

Team collaboration is important because it helps your team to perform more successfully. Implementing collaboration techniques with intention means your team members feel listened to and respected, encourages better ideas, fosters creativity, and, ultimately, helps them perform better. 

What is key for team collaboration?

The key to successful team collaboration is to implement techniques based on strong guiding principles. For example, establish healthy communication, active listening, trust, empathy, and accountability. You also need to do this within a positive and creative atmosphere, which can be established by using a collaborative digital workspace like Switchboard that allows everyone to work together on browser-based apps, files, and documents.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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Strengthen your team’s collaboration skills for better results.

Switchboard’s digital workspace lets your teams collaborate more effectively—whether they’re in the same room or not.