With technology untethering employees from their desks and an estimated 40 per cent of staff working virtually, building up virtual teams within organisations is becoming increasingly essential, Dr Nicola Millard, customer experience futurologist at BT Global Services, told HRD.
One main challenge facing organisations is encouraging people to share information through these digital channels, she said. This can be difficult especially with a global workforce who may never have met in person.
“Factors such as leadership, reward, business outcomes and work styles need to be taken into account as well as the technologies that enable all this to happen,” said Millard.
“Not all of this is solely the remit of HR. But HR needs to consider the new challenges facing leaders, how to recruit people who are natural collaborators, train those who aren’t and reward people for collaborating.”
We are moving from the era of hierarchical leadership, Millard said. Instead future leaders will need to connect people and create reasons for collaboration at all levels within the corporate network.
“This may well be a skill that needs to be taught, as London Business School’s research suggests that only one in four of us are naturally good at managing our personal networks up and down the organisation,” she added.
HR will also be responsible for how collaboration is rewarded and recognised within the business, she said. Leaders will need to create a reason for collaboration and implement reward systems which stimulate a culture of sharing.
“HR cannot do this on their own, though. The solution lies in a successful collaboration between IT, HR, property, finance and internal communications.”
One issue is that it isn’t clear about who owns collaboration within an organisation, she added.
“There has been some debate that, if collaboration is becoming so core to organisational success, do we need chief collaboration officers to own and champion it at the highest level?”
Image: Dr Nicola Millard
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