BDI Senior Director of Project Management, Carol Li

Breaking Down Silos in the Hybrid Workplace

5 actionable steps to elevate team collaboration

In 2020, the workplace as we knew it experienced a major shift. Suddenly, “work from home” became the new norm for many industries. According to Forbes, nearly 13% of full-time employees work from home, while 28% work a hybrid model (some time in office, some time at home). At BDI, we follow a hybrid model – which has contributed to greater efficiencies and productivity for many, in addition to greater work-life balance. 

However, this shift to working from home has come with some hiccups for many organizations…

These challenges can include communication breakdowns between departments and within teams, leading to delays in delivering projects, duplicated efforts or misunderstandings – and the creation of silos.

Silos can form for many reasons, including competition between teams, ineffective hierarchical structures and an excessive focus on team-specific goals, to name a few. However, a more recent factor is contributing to the development of silos – hybrid work. So, how can your organization prevent silos in a hybrid working environment? Read on to discover 5 actionable steps that can transform your work experience!

  1. Schedule regular team meetings

Regular team meetings are as important as any other client or planning meeting. Use this time to keep each other informed about company updates, process changes and other topics that could affect daily responsibilities. Set a specific time, let all teams know the importance of them and do what you can to avoid cancellations of these meetings. It’s important to meet regardless of being able to be face to face, but we recommend meeting in person at least monthly or quarterly.

It’s ok to have some fun too! Occasionally, my Project Management team starts our meetings with an icebreaker, which is a great way to get to know one another or find out something new.

  1. Create opportunities for members of different teams to work together

This helps break down barriers and encourages collaboration between different departments. In addition, it helps build chemistry within your own team and between other teams. Is there an inter-team project that would benefit your organization and allow others to use their unique skill sets?

At BDI, we plan several cross-team sessions each year, which are opportunities for interdepartmental groups to work together to discuss solutions for process improvement or ways to boost efficiency across our agency.

  1. Implement collaborative tools

Utilize technology and tools that keep everyone in your organization on the same page, such as project management software (e.g., Workfront) and communication platforms like MS Teams.

Sometimes there can be silos within the same team! To help minimize this, you can create an MS Teams channel that’s just for your own department. At BDI, we set up our own channels to foster an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing information, ideas and feedback openly. It promotes visibility and creates a “safe zone.” And a very important tip: in meetings, turn your cameras on! 🎥 😊 

  1. Provide training and development

Offer training opportunities that focus on teamwork and communication skills. By investing in employees’ professional development, you can equip them with the skills they need to work effectively across departments. 

My BDI colleague, Katrina Williams, wrote this article about professional development conferences – check it out and see which ones you and your team might want to try!

  1. Lead by example

Leadership plays a crucial role in breaking down silos. Leaders should actively promote collaboration, encourage cross-departmental communication and demonstrate a willingness to work across teams themselves.

In this article, BDI’s CEO and President, Michael J. Tomlinson, explores the traits of effective leadership – highlighting attentiveness as one of these essential qualities. According to him, attentive leaders excel in listening, so leading by example through active listening is a great way to cultivate a more inclusive and effective organization. 

Try some (or all!) of these 5 ideas and you’ll increase collaboration, improve communication and break down silos in the hybrid workplace. And remember, BDI is here to support you every step of the way!

  • Carol Li, Director of Project Management

    Carol Li, Senior Director of Project Management

    Carol brings 20 years of experience in the field of project management. She started her career in cable advertising and her organizational talents soon led her to the traffic department… where everything clicked into place. Her first agency job was as a project manager for the United Mileage Plus account. She’s also worked on nonprofit accounts including Salvation Army, Red Cross, Habitat and Lutheran Ministries.

More fuel for more impact.

Let's talk.