• Ton Bongers

Upskilling 2021, Trend 2

by Shelley Osborne, Author of The Upskilling Imperative

Remote work makes collaboration a priority

When organizations need to solve complex problems, they bring together diverse teams of specialists to come up with innovative solutions. Ironically, research shows that the more experts are involved in a collaboration, the more likely it is to fail.

In her November–December 2019 Harvard Business Review cover story, Harvard Business School professor and behavioral scientist Francesca Gino says the secret ingredients of sustainable collaboration — such as effective communication and social awareness — are rare. But a trend shows that teams are growing more aware of the skills needed to “crack the code” on collaboration.

Communication skills

The communication process is often taken for granted, causing teams to navigate a sea of ambiguity and abstraction. But in 2020, the high demand for communication skills shows that teams are learning how to be better listeners and make space for healthy debate — and, more importantly, one another.

Leadership skills

Research shows that collaborators who respect one another's ideas, have purposeful conversations, and embrace healthy conflict deliver results. And over the last year, it's become apparent that teams are learning to overcome their biases and hone their cross-functional abilities.

What does this mean for your organization?

The slow but steady shift to remote work over the last few years already called for a range of new behaviors and skills. But leaders across every industry were forced to rapidly prioritize solutions that enable entirely distributed teams to collaborate effectively in 2020.

“COVID-19 has really accelerated the shift from ‘remote-accessible' to ‘remote-first' thinking in collaboration design,” says Sprintkick founder and Udemy instructor Evan Kimbrell. “It used to be the case that a large organization was considered ‘progressive' if they could accommodate one remote worker in each functional team. Now, we're seeing a complete inversion of this paradigm.”

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