Driving productivity with collaboration and communication

Frédéric Gillant, Vice President and Managing Director of Asia Pacific, ShoreTel

Frédéric Gillant, Vice President and Managing Director of Asia Pacific, ShoreTel

Put in place at the G20 Leaders' Summit, the Brisbane Action Plan aims to drive worldwide economic growth and job creation over the next five years. And SMEs have been identified by the G20 leadership as key players in the Action Plan.

SMEs play an important part of Asia's economy. According to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), SMEs account for over 97 percent of all enterprises and SMEs' share of GDP range from 20 percent to 50 percent in the majority of APEC economies.[1]

Unfortunately, since these firms are small, they are likely to be disproportionately affected by financial crises and economic downturns, said the Asian Development Bank Institute.[2] These external factors limit the impact SMEs can have on the Action Plan.

There are however,ways to empower SMEs to be significant contributors to the G20 target. For instance, increasing the level of collaboration and communication within SMEs can help them become more productive and in the long run, agile enough to deal with market conditions.

There are several solutions that work groups can employ to make collaboration easier. Some solutions are simply a matter of a team learning how to work together and getting the most out of each meeting, but all involve improving communications.

Encourage social interaction
One of the biggest obstacles to successful collaboration in the workplace is that many teams are made up of people who do not work with each other on a regular basis. It is difficult to encourage collaboration between people who know very little about each other. The company should create ways for employees to interact with each other. A company picnic, a movie night at the local theater, or a company sports event will help bring people from different departments or teams closer. When the time comes for those groups to work together, collaboration and communication will be easier and smoother.

Use video conferencing
Video conferencing is a great business tool because it is effective and inexpensive. Employees in the same building are able to use video conferencing without increasing operational costs. One of the obstacles to collaboration is the inability for employees to find time to get together and discuss issues. With video conferencing, employees can meet without ever having to leave their desks. It makes the entire process easier on everyone and allows more direct communication while working together. People are videoconferencing right from their mobile phones, tablets and laptops for casual collaboration. And in the very near future, look for videoconference and video chat to be used more widely for collaboration on the fly.

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