Create a collaborative workplace: Tools & Tips on How to Develop Teamwork

A modern workplace relies on two key elements to be successful, your people and your tools. When it comes to tools there can be confusion when it comes to ‘what tool for what task’ and, when done incorrectly the outcome is anything but collaborative.

When rolled out correctly, however, your choice of tools can quickly enable collaboration and cross-team communication. To help you make the right choices, here are some great insights from Mark Woodrow, Head of Change, Adoption and Change at Engage Squared, one of the five alliance members of the MWA, on how to develop teamwork.

Where to start

There is no definitive ‘start here!’ when it comes to embracing modern workplace tools. The most important factor is that you don’t do too much too soon. Taking a holistic approach and making mass changes overnight often results in overwhelmed and uncomfortable staff which will hinder collaboration rather than help it.

According to Mark, there are many practical ways to introduce modern workplace tools. His recommendations are:

  • Move your weekly meeting to Microsoft Teams and upload an agenda and notes to OneNote. Encourage staff to add comments and edits directly into the document in stead of sending emails with attachments. Take notes in Microsoft Teams during the meeting, if applicable include interstate colleagues, suppliers or contractors on the Teams channel.
  • For your next big project, decide from the outset to use a collaboration tool. Add only staff involved with the project and request that all conversation relating to the project take place in the tool, say Microsoft Teams, rather than via email. 2
  • Start using a collaboration tool for task allocation and project checklists – tick-tacking on documents between staff


According to Mark, starting with simple and small pieces of work will allow staff to familiarise themselves with the tools and see the benefits, such as a reduction in email, first-hand. This will improve adoption rates.

In terms of which tool to try first, Mark advises:

“This ultimately comes down to the work in question and personal preference. If you are unsure, consider using a product you are already paying for. Microsoft Teams is a great tool to use to dip your toes in the modern workplace water.”


Be Flexible and open

With multiple products available, modern workplaces often find themselves running overlapping tools. This is a good thing! Different teams, different roles and different staff may be attracted to different products. You need to be supportive of this and allow them to identify the best collaboration tool for their purpose.

Additionally, team members that are not part of a core internal team such as external contractors may prefer a different tool. Be adaptable and focus on what set-up will enable your team to work together in the best way.

When considering how to develop teamwork, you also need to be flexible on how your modernised team operates. With increased access and connectivity, fixed corporate hierarchies can become less relevant in modern workplaces. Read more about modern workplace culture in our blog here.

Instead, successful collaborative and agile teams will self-manage, meaning the need for managerial direction becomes much less.


Increased access and visibility

Tools such as Microsoft Teams help to develop teamwork by showing availability of staff members. When staff are visible, everyone knows when they are busy or free, which means it’s much easier and faster to get answers.

In addition, teamwork tools can also remove geographical barriers that businesses may have previously faced. Being able to communicate from anywhere using a collaboration tool enables staff to keep abreast on what’s happening day-to-day rather than information being hidden in email attachments. Mark says:

Not being in the same place is a massive part of the modern workplace, make sure you address it. Asking your colleagues what’s happening where they are is a nice way of focussing on the benefits of a modern workplace whilst strengthening team relationships.”


Good tools need good tradespeople

Selecting the right technology to suit your business needs can be a complicated process. But the reality is these days there is a tool for everything – hence the rise and success of the modern workplace. Identifying the right tools for you, and determining the right way to use said tools, is a very personal process.

It is also a process that relies heavily on an adoptive and willing workforce who embrace the chosen technology.  When it comes to answer the question – how to develop teamwork – the tech is only part of the puzzle.

A modern workplace succeeds when you a team who work together, enabled by good technology, not a group of independently excellent individuals. Sadly the Microsoft productivity cloud doesn’t have a system to improve staff culture and approach to new systems, that part is up to you.  Read our blog about modern workplace culture here.

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