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How Collaboration Can Boost Innovation

Collaboration is about far more than simply taking down office walls; it’s also about effective communication, both internally and externally. Here are three top tips to help bring about good collaboration practices within your company to improve innovation.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

The Irish and global economy is forever evolving, requiring companies to build up a workforce that can continually upgrade its skills. Indeed, when we consider the past three major economic eras over recent centuries, we realise they were all focused on standardising and scaling repetitive labour.

The economy as we know it today - dominated mainly by the industrial and agricultural economies – came about when innovations in machinery and husbandry allowed us to mass produce consumer products, food and shelter more reliably. The service economy, conversely, emerged when telecommunications and computers allowed for the scaling of repetitive mental labour to provide customer service, create reports etc.

In modern times we now see ourselves moving into a new era which is not solely about mass producing goods, but mass producing innovation itself. In this new economy of ideas and developments, the challenges companies face lie in consistently designing better uses of distribution networks and mass production capability.

Research on collaboration and innovation

Simply putting pressure on staff to innovate harder won’t bring about better ideas. In fact, it’s likely to have the opposite effect as stress is not conducive to creativity. It prompts people to revert back to old routines and habits which isn’t ideal. To foster a healthy culture of innovation, companies are looking to work collaboratively, where staff pool their knowledge and perspectives in order to learn from others. This collaboration could be within the company or by partnering with external companies.

Research has shown that collaboration is likely to produce value. A study carried out by Google in 2015 showed that over half (56%) of company executives asked ranked collaboration-related activities as being the number one factor in improving their organisation’s profitability overall. In a separate survey, it was also discovered that ideas developed by teams consisting of at least three people have 156% greater appeal with consumers than those where only one or two people took a hands-on role. Working collaboratively is also thought to be very motivational, as it drives people to stick with trickier tasks for longer. Staff are also thought to be less tired, more engaged in their work and enjoy greater overall success than when they work individually.

What makes for good business collaboration?

Collaboration is about far more than simply taking down office walls; it’s also about effective communication, both internally and externally. Customers too will only be interested in doing business with you if you provide a good experience.

For innovation work to be successful, senior management and board members need to spearhead collaboration efforts - and again, we’re not simply talking open plan office space. A collaborative culture means high quality work and ideas are constantly flowing, which is why it’s so important such a culture exists. When teams are comfortable in sharing thoughts and ideas amongst themselves freely, far better standard of work will emerge very quickly.

Here are three top tips to help bring about good collaboration practices within your company.

1. Invest in your people and technology

Making sure your employees are generally happy at work is vital in establishing more effective collaboration within the company. How successful collaborative technology is will depend entirely on staff altering the way they regard their work. Instead of just dropping new process and technology on staff apparently out of the blue, companies should make sure their staff understand why changes are happening and what tools are being introduced. Educating the workforce about the benefits of collaboration and innovation is essential in getting them on board.

2. Embrace the evolving workplace

For many people, the nine-to-five office culture simply doesn’t work anymore. Modern pressures around childcare, outside interests and family life mean that many staff put flexibility very high on their career wish list.

Flexible hours and remote working needn’t be barriers to effective collaboration. In fact, true company collaboration often means going global. Computers and the internet have played a pivotal role in challenging traditional concepts of working life. Indeed, tools like smartphones, instant messaging and video conferencing have all made collaboration much easier than ever before.

3. Cut down the number of tools being used

Whilst modern communication technology offers a huge range of benefits, it can also mean a crowded and somewhat complicated set of tools that IT management need to maintain. The ad-hoc addition of extra tools can lead to a siloed working environment, plus higher administration costs and frustration amongst users.

Learning new things is never easy, and for most people, the choice between spending time learning something new or saving time and just doing something the same way as always seems like a no-brainer. Having too many tools can also mean limited time to train staff in their effective use, leading to potential skills gaps.

Security is another good reason to keep tools in use at the company down to a minimum. Security needs to be planned strategically and communicated effectively, without being overly restrictive or disruptive to the end user.

R&D Tax Credits and how Myriad Associates can help

If your company has engaged in innovative activities recently, you may be entitled to R&D Tax Credits, regardless of collaboration.

Introduced in the year 2000, R&D Tax Credits are offered by the Revenue to Irish companies that have engaged in research and development activities. The scheme is designed to encourage company growth through innovation by helping towards the costs involved, either as a reduction in Corporation Tax liability or as a lump sum. As long as the project looks to address a particular scientific or technological uncertainty it could well be eligible for the relief and all Irish companies that pay Corporation Tax can apply.

Find out more about R&D Tax Credits.

Ready to make a claim? Myriad Associates offers the highest quality R&D tax advice needed to get the most from your R&D tax relief application. We have years of experience in both Ireland and the UK, and our specialist team is made up of experts who understand every area of R&D tax relief in incredible detail.

Speak to us today for bespoke advice to suit your company. Call +353 1 566 2001 or by using our contact page.

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