recently attended an Efficiency and Reform Group event where the Chancellor (George Osborne) and Minister for the Cabinet Office announced 2013/14 savings of £14.3bn against a 2009/10 baseline.

The event was interesting from a number of perspectives, including a big statement that the government has finally “nailed the old myth of doing more with less”. However, it was a less well emphasised statement that caught my interest – the government made a £462m saving in property consolidation, which has resulted in greater collaboration across central government as more departments are now sharing office space.

Collaboration – “the action of working with someone to produce something” (Oxford English Dictionary)

So, this begs the questions – does the sheer act of seating people in the same building encourage them to work together towards a common goal or outcome? And if so, is locality all it takes?

As with all questions relating to human behaviour, I believe the answer’s not a straight forward one. Physically locating people close to each other encourages human contact which therefore increases the chances of building relationships and is likely to lead (in most cases, you would hope) to greater cooperation. However, given that the £462m saving from the consolidation of government properties is due in the main to technology enabling hot-desking, will this environment really be the catalyst to cross governmental collaboration? I do not believe so.

As technology has, in part, been the enabler for the rationalisation of government properties, it is also, in part, the enabler for greater collaboration across government. The digital age that we’re now in means that people no longer have to be frustrated by closed and complex systems that were designed to prevent working with others. Workers now have the ability to securely share a common platform with those that they need to work with regardless of what organisation they work for, where they are based, or the IT systems in place.

However, as with locating people physically closer together, providing any cloud technology platform does not in itself lead to improved collaboration. Yes having the right technology in place makes it possible, but there is more to adoption and collaboration than simply deploying the tools. Collaboration is an inherently human activity. Therefore, any technology provider looking to truly enable organisations to move to a collaborative working model needs to utilise core change management principles in order drive adoption, utilisation and true realisation of value in its investment… Cue the Huddle Customer Success Team. What are your tips for effective team collaboration?

Richard Clarke


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