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Football is Back: 3 Collaboration Lessons from the Gridiron

The NFL season returns this week, as fans across the country will get a first look at their team, hopeful that this is the year they bring the Lombardi trophy home in February. As competitive as the sport may be, it is a shining example of what it means to be a team––even the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, can’t win a game without his team. And all football players need the right equipment to win games. The same is true in the workplace––teams need tools to communicate and collaborate, effectively.

Whether it’s a product roadmap, analyst presentation, or company outing, no successful project is accomplished in a silo. For a group to tackle these tasks with a winning mentality, they need to keep collaboration at the forefront of their strategy––but this can be a challenge for teams who are not prepared. Regardless of whether you’re a football superfan, fantasy junkie, or simply a fan of the tailgate snacks, here are some helpful lessons from the field that should be applied to workplace communications.

Play to your strengths

Like teams preparing for next week’s opponent, strategize on which team member takes each task for projects, presentations, and plans. Know a team member with a keen eye who will make your big report look like it was professionally designed? Have them do the final pass in the review process. If someone on your team is a great speaker and knows when to call an audible, have them take the lead on presenting your latest data or product update to the board. A team is only as strong as its ability to share ideas and expertise, so having open lines of communications and the tools to collaborate is a game plan for success.

Maintain agility

Just as players need to stay loose between plays, teams need to be prepared to shift gears quickly and easily. While discussing a document over chat, employees should be able to share that content without leaving the conversation. And when team members need to leave the office early to beat traffic or pick up their kids from daycare, they can effortlessly move from laptop to phone to stay connected. Today’s workers may not face an oncoming blitz, but finding ways to to tackle obstacles in collaboration should always be the play call.

One team, one dream

In today’s digital workforce, companies are often distributed across the country and even globally, with a rise in remote workers. And this trend is expected to continue, as our Workforce Futures: The role of people in the future of work shows that 43 percent of employees believe they would be more productive working from home. A core component of your team, making sure they feel connected is essential for productivity and group morale. Keep in mind ways to include the full team, whether that’s catching up on a staff meeting via chat, or utilizing video calls for your meetings where you want to encourage brainstorming and group conversation.

Much like the game itself, workplace communications relies on sound fundamentals, flexibility, and a commitment to excellence. When collaboration is as easy as it is essential, teams are more apt to be productive and creative, with the ability to bounce ideas off of one another at any time. There’s no score for the best collaborators at the end of the quarter, but your team will reap the benefits of streamlined communications throughout the entire year. And most importantly, having seamless collaboration allows employees, in simplest terms, to do their job - and do it well.


“On a team, it’s not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together.” --Bill Belichick

Payal Cudia

Payal Cudia

Payal is the worldwide director of communications. 

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