Colocation is a business practice wherein individuals from different departments, regions, functions, etc. are positioned strategically (usually at a particular location) to work on a project. This facilitates better and faster communication, helps form closer and better working relationships between employees, negates time zone-related delays, and boosts productivity. Such arrangements are usually temporary and cease to exist when the project the employees were working on is complete. At times, individuals or teams could converge from different states or countries.
When an organization needs its employees from various departments to work on a project, it would have them sharing the same floor area for better and enhanced communication. The workflow and coordination may not be seamless if an employee works on the second floor and the other at the fourth, despite the presence of various communication tools such as email, text messaging, and online chat. And if the employees are located in different regions and time zones, work may get delayed significantly.
Besides improved communication and better coordination, a colocation project team’s members also develop respect and trust for each other. This familiarity and confidence shows in the involvement of the team members. All members of a team working in the same physical location also means reduced operating costs since there is no requirement to install video conferencing devices, high-speed phone lines, data centers, test drivers (dummy codes), etc. Moreover, managing a collocated team is also easier compared to managing a virtual or scattered team.
Colocation presents its share of hurdles to cross too. First and foremost, colocation can turn out expensive if the project requires relocating people from different parts of the world. The costs include project members’ travel expenses, accommodation, food, etc. This is why colocation is opted for only if a project is high-risk, critical and will potentially make great money for the organization.
Besides relocation costs, project members from different countries may have difficulties getting acclimatized to the work environment in another country, the food, language, climate, separation from family, etc. For someone who has lived for the most part in the colder regions of Europe would find moving to Africa (albeit momentarily) a life-shaking decision. If the spouse or the family of the employee intends to move too, the project manager would then have to face other challenges such as getting an apartment on rent or booking a hotel for the employee’s family.
When is Colocation Ideal?
Colocation is a must when team members have to work on a project from the same location. For instance, a film crew shooting a movie have to be at the same spot. Also, professionals working on critical projects entailing research and development or innovation should collocate since the project would comprise testing, bug-fixing, altering deliverables, modifying scope, etc. that is hard to achieve when a part of the team is offshore or virtual.