Agile Working Environment: Tips for Boosting Team Collaboration

Agile working is here to stay, and businesses are making the most of the new age of collaboration. Learn how to maximise your team with this guide.

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Although it rose in the business world as a buzzword that lacked the backing to truly impact business operations, with enough time and research, the agile working environment has become one of the most sought-after ways to manage a team.

The ability to offer flexibility and freedom in a working environment, all while giving your employees more tools to collaborate and succeed in their roles. For many employers, if you aren’t offering a truly agile environment while your competitors do, you could be losing out on performance, results, and even employees who choose to go elsewhere.

With all that said, it isn’t as simple as declaring your business an agile one. It takes a significant mental and tactical shift in how your departments operate, and your senior team needs to be well-versed in the management of an agile workforce to maintain morale and effectiveness.

If you can put it all together, your teams will begin collaborating freely and naturally, which will drive creativity and lead to better output across the board. But what is the best approach to boosting your team’s performance? Find out here.

The Rising Trend of Agile Methodologies in Today’s Workplaces

The agile working methodology has been around since its inception in 2001 when the Agile Manifesto was formed. While the website still looks like it came from the dawn of the internet, the original concept relies on four primary principles that outline what an ideal agile environment should look like:

• Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
• Working software over comprehensive documentation
• Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
• Responding to change by following a plan

These principles have largely followed through in modern implementations of agile methods, though the nature of business operation in 2024 has naturally changed things somewhat. Agile environments in 2024 are primarily focused on building strong collaborative practices between your team and departments and remaining flexible to respond to changes within projects or the business at large.

7 Tips for Creating a Collaborative Agile Working Environment

Deciding to change your working culture is a future-focused choice. It won’t be a smooth transition and will require multiple iterations and internal drives to get everyone in a position where they’ve embraced the new approach completely.

Resistance will typically originate higher up in the chain of command, as an agile working environment ranks highly on things employees want most in 2024.

Agile methodologies are slightly more resilient to growing pains, given that they create flexibility over-relying on strict processes, but it’s still important to do everything you can to support your team during the transition. We’ve listed seven of the key areas to focus on and promote a true agile working environment.

1. Foster a culture of transparency and open communication

As part of the process of breaking down barriers between senior staff and the wider business and promoting a collaborative environment, you need to lead by example and showcase transparency and openness company-wide.

How you specifically approach this will be up to you, but any instance where deeper insights into business operations - even challenges - can be shared will help invest employees in your company and build a stronger bond between the team.

2. Empower teams to make decisions autonomously

While traditional approaches to company structure install a series of increasingly senior staff members to manage others, part of the beauty of an agile environment is that everyone in the company is given the tools and agency to work autonomously and make key decisions that will have an impact.

Although it sounds daunting to hand off the reins to non-senior team members throughout your business, the benefits are tangible. For example, if your company is beset by a wave of product complaints and call center issues arise, the individuals best positioned to handle the situation are the experts - your support agents.

It would be all too easy to swoop in and command the situation, but your team will have the best tools to diffuse frustration and find a resolution for the customer.

Not only do you improve morale team-wide, but you actively support creativity and collaboration at all levels within the company structure. As employees feel valued and that their input matters, they’ll be much more likely to engage with tasks and give their all to showcase their talents.

3. Encourage knowledge sharing among team members

One of the best aspects of an agile environment is the cross-pollination of junior and senior staff. So much on-the-job training and education can be achieved simply through the collaborative process of team members involved in a project.

You should promote this activity and encourage any mentoring and support your team can provide to others. Whether it’s a senior team member helping tackle a challenging problem or an employee from another department jumping in to move the project forward, opening up your team’s knowledge to the wider business will have wide-ranging benefits.

This type of leadership will lead to faster employee development and help steer a project to completion in an organic manner.

4. Provide tools and resources for remote collaboration

The mindset and workflow of agile methods differ greatly from traditional working patterns. As documents might need to be worked on simultaneously or cross-department communications arise, it’s important to have the right resources and technology in place to make those situations pain-free to navigate for everyone involved.

Fortunately, there are several quality tools that can facilitate this, even down to the Google suite of software, which includes multi-user document editing and history information to show changes and allow for rollbacks.

5. Advocate for taking ownership and accountability

Accountability and ownership stand as the biggest challenges to an effective agile environment. Given that a project will have several team members working on it at any given time, and possibly even those outside of the project jumping in to share expertise, it’s all too easy for employees to step back and stay quiet when something goes wrong.

While it’s not an easy problem to solve, trying to build a culture of ownership among your employees is incredibly important to keep the environment healthy for everyone.

Create an environment where failure isn’t worth of punishment and is instead used as a learning opportunity for the business, and ensure that this ethos is instilled into the company culture through effective communication strategies.

When team members feel that they can own their successes and failures in a safe environment, they’ll be much more willing to be held accountable for their actions. This will help keep projects on track, solve issues that emerge, and build confidence across your workforce.

6. Ensure access to collaboration tools and technologies

Several incredible tools can help foster an agile environment. These multifaceted platforms can bring a set of useful features - such as communication tools, document co-creation software, and paper trail functionalities - and bring them together to create a single touchpoint for all employees to engage with.

With the right systems in place, it’s crucial that you ensure the teams have access to these technologies as and when they need them, and there aren’t any unnecessary gates on who can and who can’t use them.

It’s worth trialing a range of platforms with your team while you try to find the one that works best for the whole business, especially during the early stages of building your agile environment.

7. Celebrate successes and learn from failures

The final step to assuring a collaborative atmosphere within your teams is to properly identify when team members go above and beyond and to celebrate those successes.

This is made much simpler with the right supporting tools, but be sure to take an active approach during project life spans to learn when team members are exceeding expectations and help move things forward.

Certain employee management tools have ‘high five’ features built-in, where employees can give a shout-out to colleagues who have achieved something noteworthy. This kind of selfless positive reinforcement creates a supportive atmosphere and builds comradery.

Meanwhile, the same level of accountability needs to be in place for businesses to examine the cause of any failures and to gain knowledge from the process. As long as your team can learn from any challenges, then it hasn’t been a complete loss for the business, and you can move forward with confidence.

Final Thoughts

An agile working environment can open up new avenues of collaboration and creativity within your company. The added flexibility and autonomy provided to your employees will help boost morale and build a team-focused atmosphere, which will drive innovation and help everyone to learn and grow together.

It’s not an overnight change, however, and the whole business needs to be aligned that an agile environment is the right approach. Explore the prospect with your staff and field any concerns with sincerity and openness, and if the challenges can be resolved then it’s worth taking the plunge.

Author Bio

Cory Plachy is the Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at Convoso, the leading contact center software for powering sales and lead generation As an adaptable and naturally curious Marketing Communications Manager, Cory channels years of content creation, marketing and sales experience into the world of SaaS communication. Here is her LinkedIn.

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