Creating a collaborative corporate culture

Will Kelly
4 min readJul 7, 2017


Technology pundits, consultants, and academics often see the latest online technologies, snake people, and work/life Balance are what drives online collaboration. It takes more than just one of those trends to drive collaboration. It’s about the total culture of so I’ve found during my time as a contract technical writer.

Corporate culture has to promote online collaboration for it to be successful. Culture gives employees space and tools for success to collaborate with their coworkers, contractors, and external customers.

Some integral elements of a collaborative corporate culture include:

If your company is doing a seat check every morning in your cubicle farm, you don’t have a corporate culture conducive to much online collaboration.

“Face time” is more about management insecurities. Today’s workforce runs at a different pace with alternative work schedules, telecommuting, and offsite contractors, and employee personal commitments. It’s about the total culture of so I’ve found during my time as a contract technical writer.

Yet, to be fair, while I take a poke at management, it takes the right kind of workforce to make this sort of schedule work. It’s about people who are vested in the project, the organization, and their team to make it work. These are the people who work and location are not inclusive

Having online collaboration tools in place supporting this accepted work schedule means these workers are never out of touch and accessible for meetings and other collaborative efforts.

When relevant project documents, schedules, and other data reside online — not in an email inbox or local hard drive — workers can access it whenever and wherever they are. Mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones open up potential accessibility even further.

An old IT contractor friend of mine once coined the term “Knowledge Archipelagos.” It’s where employees hoard institutional knowledge whether it be key documents on employee’s local hard drives or in their heads like an archipelago of islands.

Job security through obscurity can feel like a safe harbor to some in people. Yet it cheats an enterprise organization, their projects, and clients. Organizations that have a central repository off local hard drives and email inboxes prevent archelagos from happening.

Sharing of project artifacts and corporate information online is integral to a collaborative corporate culture. This only happens with management sponsorship, leadership by example, and

I once had a client consider that if they could see my presence online via IM or social media regardless of the hour or day that I was available to discuss work topics.

While this attitude may seem invasive to some, it can make you more conscious your online time after hours. Yet, to communicate with the client’s overbooked technical staff, I routinely went online after hours. It was their preferred method of contact, and I didn’t want to violate their corporate culture.

Having a presence beyond the corporate office is also part of having a collaborative corporate culture.

Through my career as a contract technical writer, the organizations I saw excel at online collaboration had a technical employee base which shaped corporate culture in their right. Age was never a discriminator in this regard.

A majority of them were early adopters and lived their working days and nights online. Their needs and work schedules fed into the corporate culture and had a direct influence on the acceptance of online collaboration in the organizational culture.

A truly collaborative culture requires a supportive management team that wants their workers to be accessible to each other through multiple channels and realizes that traditional working models won’t attract and retain the best talent.

It also helps if these managers are early adopters and are champions for online collaboration and the benefits it gives to workers.

Another quality of supportive management is that they aren’t shy recruiting employees or contractors outside of commuting distance from their nearest office.

It’s the corporate culture that drives collaboration not some newly minted liberal arts graduate.

Image by Benjamin Child via

Note: I published this post a few years ago on my personal blog. Fortunately, more organizations are coming around to the value of collaboration tools in the workplace.

Originally published at on July 7, 2017.

Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and Neustar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by IBM Mobile Business Insights, TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, Network World,,, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.