The age of working in silos is over.
Speaking to start-up and innovation conference Silicon Block in Melbourne last week, a panel of Australian business leaders declared that a project-based approach to the workplace will see team members from different departments and disciplines come together.
But what happens when these employees don’t know how to work with each other?
According to ANZ tribe lead Narelle Charity, workers should get up close and personal with each other’s jobs.
“We’ve got analysts, campaign managers and managers all sitting together, and really having all the different people learning about each other’s jobs – what’s hard and what’s easy – has been incredibly important,” she said.
“Actually getting people to do elements of other people’s job has been incredibly good. That’s one thing that’s worked for us.”
This approach helped reduce conflict when employees demanded work from others in different departments, and where those employees struggled to meet the demands.
AGL’s Brett Cooper said that their company philosophy was to respect the individual and their contribution and talent.
“That’s actually what you need to leverage in those combined teams. Everyone has a role to play. Really respect those boundaries, even if you really want to do [things] quickly.”
‘Collaboration’ not enough
However, in contrast to ANZ’s Charity, Latitude Financial chief technological officer Shan Moorthy said knowing what other people’s jobs involve is not enough for collaboration to be successful.
“It’s not just collaboration, it’s empathetic collaboration. That is key,” he said. One simple way for workers to get to know each other is to go on coffee breaks together, he suggested.
“Get to know the people, don’t get to know the work that they do. Because when you get to know people and you form relationships, you form empathy for what they do.
“It makes collaboration just happen. You don’t have to force it, you don't have to mandate it.
“Whatever you can do to build empathy within the team, that is most important.”
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