Communication Post-Covid: Why We Need Collaboration Hubs Now More Than Ever

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses of all shapes, sizes, and sectors have had to adapt to working from home – and quickly. We’ve come a long way from 2013, when then-leading tech giants like Yahoo famously banned remote working, claiming it was bad for both productivity and quality. Now, we know that’s not the case – with lots of workers actually citing better focus when working from home.

But, while it’s been possible to be productive from home, workplace cohesion and collaboration seem to be a different story. When asked, 20% of people said they have struggled to communicate and collaborate remotely, with many finding ‘staying in the loop’ the biggest challenge when working from home. In fact, since the pandemic, three quarters of managers have been reporting reduced team cohesiveness as a top concern.

In the current climate, that’s worrying. Because in 2021, with rapidly changing circumstances repeatedly pulling the rug out from lots of sectors’ feet, it’s never been more important for businesses to be able to communicate clearly and work cohesively. We can’t afford to compromise our ability to think about things differently, or come up with creative solutions.

But, what’s the solution? How can businesses and employers make sure they’re staying legal and keeping staff safe, without compromising creativity, or stifling collaboration?

Creating collaboration hubs, as part of a blended or hybrid working approach, could be the answer.

What is a collaboration hub?

In recent years, spaces for collaboration have emerged in lots of different guises. From co-working spaces in city centres designed to avoid high rental costs, to innovation labs that gather creative people in the same space to achieve a specific goal, collaboration hubs tend to have one thing in common: physical proximity.

And that’s because, as fantastic as digital solutions can be for day-to-day work, it’s difficult to replace the organic, authentic way that people communicate and collaborate when they’re sharing a space.

Conversations sparked by simply offering to do the tea round lead to knowledge sharing, team away days foster strong working relationships (crucial when things get tough), and business-wide strategy workshops generate invaluable ideas.

It’s hard to replicate that over Zoom – and that’s where collaboration hubs come in.

How can businesses create collaboration hubs?

The first step is to recognise and acknowledge the fact that we can’t do it all remotely – and to encourage a hybrid working approach where possible in your organisation. By creating a culture that focuses on flexibility, you’ll help make sure any collaborative spaces you create will be used for just that: collaboration.

Secondly, think about the space you’ve already got. If your office is empty, how can you reorganise it so that it’s better suited to group activity (while maintaining distance)? Can you consider the purpose of the space, using dividers to create zones, breakout areas for team discussions, or a creative corner for problem solving? Think about how you can adapt your space to inspire collaboration.

Finally, and most importantly, communicate – and acknowledge that your colleagues may be struggling with communication themselves. Encourage them to use your collaboration hubs as a place to share notes, discuss what they’re working on, or simply connect with colleagues around the business. Stress their importance.

After all, to succeed in this new world of work, collaboration is key – and dedicating time to creating hubs with this specific purpose in mind can only help facilitate it.