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Our Workplaces Are More Connected Than Ever, But Are We Truly Collaborating?

Collaboration Dynamics
February 22, 2022
min read
Your organization collaborates in three ways. Here’s how you can make the most of each of those interactions.

Online communication and connection are necessary elements of the modern workforce. We work and connect on Zoom, Slack, Teams, and other digital collaboration tools, and there’s no debating that the in-person element of work is changing. 

We also need to acknowledge that, for a lot of people, the shift from personal interactions to video calls and Slack channels is difficult. It may be easier than ever to connect, but we need to know how productive those interactions are, and is it worth the time being spent?

According to McKinsey & Company, there are three types of collaborative interactions: decision making, creative solutions and coordination, and information sharing. To understand how well your teams are collaborating across these three areas, you need to first measure this activity.

*McKinsey & Company: If we’re all so busy, why isn’t anything getting done?

According to Time is Ltd. data, we spend almost two and a half hours a day on collaborative activity. We define collaborative activity as the time spent on collaboration platforms, such as Slack and email, as well as meeting time. On average, nearly a third of our workday is spent interacting with others, and knowing how to best utilize that time is crucial.

For many organizations, collaboration happens largely in meetings. Meetings can be useful, but without planning, leadership, or consideration of the time and cost-intensive resources involved, meetings can drain on our workdays. 

Here are practical tips for how your organization can improve its meeting culture and collaborate more efficiently.

Decision-Making: Meeting Agendas Can Lead To Better Outcomes

How many meetings do you hold without a clear agenda? When you're responsible for conducting a meeting, it’s important to set the tone and outline the meeting’s objectives. Agendas can accomplish that. 

Are you trying to share information, collaborate/brainstorm, or make a decision? Knowing who is responsible for a decision leads to more efficient and thorough outcomes. According to McKinsey, “Role clarity enabled easier navigation for employees, sped up decision making, and resulted in decisions that were much more customer focused.”

An effective agenda aids decision-making. The meeting agenda should outline the objectives and desired outcomes of the discussion. In a recent Time is Ltd. blog post, “How to Cure Meeting-itis?”, we advised that a good agenda assigns different topics to different people, creating clarity and fostering engagement. When everyone is clear about their roles, the decision-making process can move a lot faster. Key decisions can also be summarized in a follow-up email, which helps attendees remember the important takeaways.

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Creative Solutions and Coordination: Demonstrate Leadership Through Skip-Level Meetings

Whether your team is trying to problem-solve and identify innovative solutions, or just coordinate actions, McKinsey's research suggests that empowerment from leadership is a key to success. Much like a coach, business leaders should provide the guardrails for support while also giving teams the space to come up with solutions.

One indicator of leadership’s involvement is skip-level meetings. These are meetings where senior management meets with the direct reports of middle managers, often to capture insights about the organization. According to data from the Time is Ltd. platform, only 44.8% of people hold skip-level meetings. These meetings are invaluable opportunities for leadership; discussions within skip-level meetings can improve communication, make employees feel heard, and offer up valuable insights and areas of improvement for an organization. 

Information Sharing: Decline Unnecessary Meetings Invitations

Day-to-day meetings usually consist of sharing information and answering questions. However, meetings might not always be the best way to communicate with teams, especially when this time eats into employees’ focus time for work requiring thought and deep concentration. 

When discussion and decision-making are also involved in information sharing, a meeting is appropriate. One-way information sharing can often be saved for a Slack message, email, or recording. Leaders and team members alike can and should ask themselves what role they play in a meeting before accepting that invite — more specifically, can they influence the outcome?

Time is Ltd. data shows that only a small percentage of meeting invitations are declined. Creating a culture where employees feel empowered to decline unnecessary meetings will free up more time and resources for impactful interactions.

The Takeaway 

Identifying the three types of collaboration within your organization can help you make the most of these interactions. By measuring this activity, you can begin to make meaningful shifts that drive results and boost productivity. Time is Ltd. can help you understand how your organization collaborates, identify sources of disengagment, and empower leaders to create effective and efficient workspaces. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Time is Ltd.’s employee experience and engagement platform, then don’t hesitate to reach out to

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Article by
Alex Czaja
Article by
Alex Czaja

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