The Company Connection: Tips and insights from business leaders across industries to keep your teams engaged and productive

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  • Company CEOs and workplace strategists say implementing new collaboration tech among teams helps them work better together.
  • Companies are incorporating a wide range of tools to encourage collaboration. CEOs told Business Insider they're doing everything from video conferencing to adjusting an office's temperature to help improve productivity.
  • We've compiled a list of tricks for fostering collaboration and creating healthier teams in the series "The Company Connection."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Today's companies are prioritizing technology and flexibility for their employees - all in hopes of boosting collaboration.

When employees are sharing responsibilities, this can make it easier to tackle and complete tasks. In the workplace, this can also lead to higher productivity levels, according to a study published last June in the Human Resource Management Journal. Advertisement

From the C-suite to remote workers, effective teams keep ideas flowing and business booming. Additionally, managers who encourage teamwork help keep employees happy.

Collaboration, however, isn't only about working in teams. People want to know how to use applications, websites, and hardware to make personal career progress in their workplace. And when used properly, the integration of tech in both office life and a remote setting can lead to goals being met, creating greater successes and bigger opportunities.

Business Insider talked to CEOs and experts across industries and workplace experts to find the best tech-based collaboration tips for our project "The Company Connection." Read summaries of each story and find links to the reporting below.
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The cofounder of a fintech startup uses monthly in-person meetings to strengthen her hybrid workforce.

The cofounder of a fintech startup uses monthly in-person meetings to strengthen her hybrid workforce.

Lindsay Lockhart is the cofounder and chief of staff at Neocova, an early-stage fintech startup providing banking technology. She's tasked with making sure her team works successfully across a pair of offices in St. Louis and New York, as well as with remote employees. She told Business Insider that over-communication on messaging platforms is key to keeping such disparate teams collaborating properly.

"Assume that no one knows anything, so everybody stays on the same page," Lockhart said.

What's more, Lockhart uses twice-daily check-ins and a week of face-to-face meetings to improve collaboration among workers.

"As leaders, if we don't make sure we maximize that face-to-face time that we have — which is becoming more and more sacred — that is really where I see the morale and the emotional rot within a team and that is incredibly dangerous," she said.

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Mambu, a company that offers core banking services to the finance industry, has a team of more than 200 people from around the world

Mambu, a company that offers core banking services to the finance industry, has a team of more than 200 people from around the world

Eugene Danilkis, a former NASA software engineer and CEO of the cloud-banking platform Mambu, told Business Insider he has "naturally" fostered international connections by hiring a remote team.

"We wanted to build a relatively international team from day one, because it's a lot easier to build something that is naturally international and naturally used to remote work, than build everything that is siloed in one office and slowly try to introduce that," Danilkis said.

Even though team members are spread out across the globe, Danilkis said they make a special effort to foster strong connections with in-person meetings and frequent video conferencing.

"We also like a bit more of a hybrid model in the sense that while everyone is remote, we do make sure that teams meet up in person on some sort of regular basis," Danilkis said.

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An architecture firm designed its office to make its workers healthier and more collaborative, with movable 'green walls' and air-quality control

An architecture firm designed its office to make its workers healthier and more collaborative, with movable 'green walls' and air-quality control

The architecture firm M Moser told Business Insider that altering an office's environmental factors can help foster collaboration. In fact, the company uses temperature-changing lights, moveable "green walls" with plant life, and air-quality-control monitors.

"There are a lot of negative impacts that the workplace has," said Grant Christofely, an M Moser workplace strategist. "Space can make us depressed if we don't have access to natural light. There are a lot of factors, whether it's natural or manufactured, that make your body sick."

According to M Moser designers and strategists, this type of office layout has helped make workers not only more productive but healthier as well.

Christofely said, "Teamwork requires healthy employees. M Moser takes a data-driven approach to designing for their clients."

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The director of global communications at Prezi uses video calls to increase the focus of employees who cannot make in-person meetings

The director of global communications at Prezi uses video calls to increase the focus of employees who cannot make in-person meetings

Spencer Waldron, director of global communications at presentation platform Prezi, told Business Insider that managing virtual teams can be difficult because sometimes there are too many people on the platform.

While online meetings do have unlimited space, trimming the size of these virtual gatherings can actually make them more productive.

"It's hard to run online meetings — especially if a lot of people are in the meeting and you can't see any faces," said Waldron. "That's why we need to set expectations and get creative in how we're keeping people focused."

Waldron says that video can be a useful tool for helping team members connect with one another. In fact, there's a rule at Prezi that people who can't join an in-person meeting have to turn on their audio and video function because being able to see a face through the screen increases focus.

"What happens then is you see me and I see you," he said. "I see how you're reacting to something I'm talking about. You're more connected to the person that you're watching."

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An asset and wealth management firm uses a cloud service and digital conferencing to keep its remote staff engaged and productive

An asset and wealth management firm uses a cloud service and digital conferencing to keep its remote staff engaged and productive

Asset and wealth management firm Westwood Holdings told Business Insider that migrating to a cloud service and using a digital conferencing service has helped bring teams together.

"We've become very accustomed to working remotely via video when necessary, as well as instant messaging and file sharing," said the chief operating officer, Fabian Gomez.

Also, the firm said creating an inclusive environment and recognizing employee achievements has increased collaboration among team members.

"Using these tools enables us to reach a wide variety of employees in a number of different offices," said Beth Obear, Westwood's senior vice president and head of human capital. "And we don't all have to be in one place for all of us to be included."

For example, there is a wall in the office that celebrates the work and highlights the biggest achievements of a "featured employee."

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How to keep important meetings focused for people who hate meetings, according to executives who have done it

How to keep important meetings focused for people who hate meetings, according to executives who have done it

According to Renato Profico, the CEO of the online calendar tool Doodle, the easiest way to keep people engaged during meetings is to make sure the timing is right.

When setting up a perfect meeting time, it's important for the manager to think about the different issues that can arise. Before sending a calendar invite, managers should consider the context of the discussion, the number of people attending, and other meetings also occurring that day.

"I believe that picking the right time increases productivity, but sometimes, picking the right time with the right person is also important," he said. "You have people who work better in the evening than in the morning. It all depends on the employees and how they work."

Smaller groups tend to result in better discussions, he said.

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The founder of the Perpetual Guardian uses a 4-day workweek to foster collaboration among teams

The founder of the Perpetual Guardian uses a 4-day workweek to foster collaboration among teams

Andrew Barnes, an author of "The 4 Day Week" and founder of the New Zealand-based company Perpetual Guardian, said his employees were more energized and productive after he trimmed the workweek to four days.

"The success of the four-day-week trial will rest partly on the willingness of staff in an open-plan environment to collaborate on a low-noise, no-interruption plan," Barnes wrote. "A strategy designed for maximum productivity is likely to involve both technological and refreshingly old-school solutions."

Barnes suggests limiting notifications, disconnecting from your email, and working in a remote space as much as possible.

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Workplace experts say collaboration tools are a great forum for recognizing employee achievements

Workplace experts say collaboration tools are a great forum for recognizing employee achievements

Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant," told Business Insider that if you use collaboration tools in the right way, they can drive innovation. Taylor says group messages are a great place to offer compliments for the work of your colleagues.

"What an opportunity to pay a kind word and memorialize it in this venue," Taylor said of chat rooms.

Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "The Humor Advantage," told Business Insider that when chatting on these platforms, employees should be wary of using slang, especially common acronyms such as "WTF" or "LMAO" that contain swear words.

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These 5 podcasts share how a football coach, a managing director, and a nonprofit manager improved their team's collaboration

These 5 podcasts share how a football coach, a managing director, and a nonprofit manager improved their team's collaboration

Teamwork is one of the many building blocks for company success.

Leaders can listen to a number of podcasts on their morning commute and lunch break that will offer strategies to improve a team's collaboration and communication style.

Tim Ferris, a self-help guru, entrepreneur, and author of the "4-Hour-Work Week," speaks more about habits for running successful teams on his podcast.

For example, in an episode of the Tim Ferris podcast, Ferris spoke with US Navy and Army veterans who said teams should prioritize maintaining good relationships, no matter what kind of communication you use.

On the podcast, they recalled the value in teams that are not just kind to each other in person but extend kindness over email and through the phone. They both said this goes a long way in improving how colleagues interact with and respond to each other.

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The former CEO of Target built an internal social media platform to boost collaboration among teams

The former CEO of Target built an internal social media platform to boost collaboration among teams

Gregg Steinhafel, the former CEO of Target, fosters collaboration among employees by providing an online internal social media for employees. This platform allows workers to comment and like posts.

The company also uses a Wiki handbook with an interactive Q&A feature. All of these features enhance teams' ability to communicate with each other.

Another useful tip for collaboration comes from Anders Dahlvig, former CEO of Ikea. He used strict measures to ensure teamwork was a priority in the workplace. Dahlvig told Business Insider he would not promote high performers that couldn't work with well on teams.

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A BET executive used self-advocacy to advance her career, sending emails to her boss' boss

A BET executive used self-advocacy to advance her career, sending emails to her boss' boss

Self-advocacy is not only key to getting ahead professionally — it can also uplift your team and generate better collaboration within your company.

According to the senior vice president of business and legal for BET Networks, Khadijah Sharif-Drinkard, it's important to make your accomplishments clear to management.

Communicating what you and your team have accomplished helps senior management identify the company's most valuable employees. This is important because most senior managers have no idea who the key players are.

"You have to figure out ways that you get your own voice out there so that you can translate for people what you're really doing," Sharif-Drinkard told Business Insider.

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A retired Navy SEAL commander explains how the tactics he used to collaborate with the Army and Marines can work just as well in the office conference room

A retired Navy SEAL commander explains how the tactics he used to collaborate with the Army and Marines can work just as well in the office conference room

Jocko Willink is a former Navy SEAL commander turned best-selling author, podcast host, and leadership consultant. His new book is "Leadership Strategy and Tactics."

In the 2006 Battle of Ramadi in Iraq, Willink worked extensively with the Army and Marines.

He said that effective cross-team collaboration comes from subordinating your ego, which entails a degree of give and take with leaders of the other teams. If their idea is satisfactory, he said, it's better to agree to it than quibble. That will also make them more open to your own ideas.

Additionally, he said people on teams will always think their project is the best. And in some cases, these intentions aren't always bad.

"Part of it is ego, but part of it is just because they understand their own plan better than everyone else's," Willink said.

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Top companies are using VR to connect and train their teams from around the world

Top companies are using VR to connect and train their teams from around the world

Virtual reality opens up new opportunities for companies to connect with and train remote workers while reducing risks in some high-stakes work environments.

The digital strategy firm Accenture developed large VR pods in its Atlanta and San Francisco offices called Igloos that bring the audio and visual elements from VR glasses to a large audience of employees.

The financial planning service Fidelity is also exploring the implementation of VR to help its workers build soft skills like interpersonal communication.

"There is a better way of communicating where you're getting your point across more and you're able to better interact with people," said Adam Schouela, who leads the emerging technology group within the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology.

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