May 28, 2020

The New Healthy Collaboration

When you think about healthy collaboration, what do you think of? Sure, collaboration requires a team of individuals working together for some collective goal. There’s the obligatory dictionary definition to get you thinking. But what’s included in working together? What makes it healthy? Certainly, it relies on your definition of “working together” and “healthy”. Distilled, healthy collaboration means that the team is working together and everyone is happy with the work they have done and what their team members have done. They aren’t pulling out their hair, screaming, throwing shady passive-aggressive comments across the whiteboard. They are talking, laughing, and getting the job done.

That’s what teams strive for, but now there’s a new element to healthy collaboration.

First, let’s talk about the key elements of collaboration. I’ve written it out in a list because people like lists. Maybe you skipped right to the list. If you didn’t, good job, you made it to the list!

Healthy collaboration requires these elements:

  • Communication
  • Delegation
  • Understanding of the work
  • Understanding of coworkers/environment
  • Goals that work for everyone
  • Motivation
  • Feeling safe
  • Leadership — in all its forms
  • Trust

When these elements are in full force, the project gets done much faster. The members work well together, and they’ll work together more often.

But now we have to focus on a new layer of healthy collaboration — one that focuses on physical health. Healthy collaboration between team members now relies on a communal goal of ensuring a safe and healthy environment in which we can all work together.

So what does this new healthy collaboration look like? Well, it requires all the same elements as before, but with a different mindset. Instead of communicating clearly between team members on a project, delegating what needs to be done and by whom, everyone is communicating on how to interact in the environment they are in. Like project tasks, there is a level of responsibility that hinges on this form of collaboration. People have to work together, respect spatial boundaries, and communicate clearly on multiple levels.

To ensure an environment is safe and healthy, members need to have information. They need to know what desk spaces have been used by others. They need to know when areas have been cleaned and when the next scheduling is. Without even entering a room, they should be able to know how many people are in there and whether or not there is available space. They need to feel comfortable with the air they are breathing, the surfaces they are touching, and the devices they are using. This all requires a certain level of trust within the community, but when it works, people can focus on what really drives them rather than what scares them.

Think of the collaborative work benefits when certain stressors are alleviated. Time isn’t wasted on finding a clean desk space. You don’t have to think about who was there before you. Everything is ready to go for you, so you can get down to work with your team.

How can a spatial environment help provide you with this level of healthy security? Good question! There are a lot of technology systems out there that interact with each other to help present data that is easily digestible and actionable. I know how much you like lists, so here’s another one!

When a working and living space utilizes this high-level method of ensuring the community’s spaces are healthy and safe, real collaboration can happen. Networking and team-building are no longer about feeling comfortable, but allowing everyone to grow and reach their goals. As a community that strives toward growth and collaboration, this is the most important thing people and their environments should focus on.

It certainly is what we focus on.


Crossing the streams of collaboration and goals to hit your target :)