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Collaborating for growth

The workplace has changed beyond recognition. Despite all of the talk about recovery, most business are still in crisis mode, trying to navigate the ongoing uncertainty. But it is time to think beyond survival, and to lay the foundations for growth, and reinvention.


The key to unlocking growth is collaboration, but in a virtual working world that’s not always easy.

Most large global businesses have started to create opportunities for their employees to fulfil their basic need for human connection, but few have taken this as far as they need to.  

Existing employee journeys are ill-suited to this new way of working. We’ve shifted ways of working and operating models overnight, without changing the employee journey to ensure key touch points exist to encourage connection and allow diverse perspectives to come together in the pursuit of growth. These moments of connection are not going to happen organically in a virtual or hybrid environment.

There are some good examples of businesses trying to find opportunities for people to connect beyond their immediate working teams, from the coffee and chatter sessions at Biffa, which bring people together for 30-minutes to connect and catch up, to the social networking sessions being set-up around hobbies or topics of interest in other companies.

But we have to do more.

We need to spark a revolution around collaboration for innovation and growth. And build regular opportunities for different voices and perspectives to come together to solve real business challenges in this new world of work.

There are three fundamental shifts that have accelerated the need for collaboration and disruption:

  • Consumer behaviour is evolving and changing
  • The competitive landscape has changed and will continue to do so. Who would have thought that Amazon would be competing with pharmacies!
  • Businesses are completely rethinking their offer in order to survive. Food wholesalers are going direct to consumers and restaurants are running virtual wine tasting to complement their cook at home meals.
But where do you start?

How do you bake opportunities for collaboration that could drive innovation into your BAU activity? And what skills do you need to identify and nurture to build a culture where the right type of collaboration happens, and an innovation mindset starts to thrive?

According to The Innovator’s DNA there are certain behavioural skills you need in play within your business to spark brilliant ideas for innovation: questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting.

So, when we are thinking about our opportunities for collaboration, we need to create the conditions for these behaviours to surface.

One good way to foster collaboration is to involve your people in the recovery and rebuilding process. Here are some simple things you can do to create moments of collaboration and start an innovation revolution in your business:

  • Set the scene, help your people to understand the challenges you face. Share the disruption COVID-19 has bought into your business, sector and for your customers. Ask them to consider what doesn’t work anymore and what opportunities are there for you as a business.
  • Encourage questions and exploration of the challenges and encourage people to share additional perspectives on the opportunities you see.
  • Create opportunities for discussion and networking around the things that matter to your business. Encourage open, and honest conversations about what’s possible, allow people to question the data.
  • Build into your employee journey opportunities to hack solutions for the challenges you face – make it public and encourage builds, questions and challenges on all of the ideas shared.
  • Make the sharing of new ideas and suggestions part of how you operate, encourage incremental improvements as well as the big ideas.

 Getting people involved in collaborating over real work, helps to drive deeper engagement and ownership, and importantly will foster a culture where bringing together different perspectives to innovate becomes the norm. And ultimately sets the foundation for driving growth.  If you need help finding ways to collaborate for growth contact us at hello@unitedcultureco.com.