Four Ways to Encourage Cross-Departmental Collaboration

crossfucntional collaboration

Cross-organizational collaboration is a large portion of the meetings we see at sparkspace. Sales & Marketing, Marketing & Finance, Finance and IT. We especially see these type of meetings with Columbus’s many fashion retail home offices like Abercrombie and Fitch, Victoria’s Secret and DSW.

While cross-departmental communication may be frequent, these individuals might not have ever spent time with one another. At the end of the day, people ultimately work better together when they feel comfortable with one another. So how do we continue to break down the barriers of communication?

Below are 4 quick activities to encourage cross-functional collaboration during your next meeting.

  1. Assign seats. Assign seats prior to the groups arrival. Attendees will be encouraged to make new connections. Another version is to allow attendees to sit down where they’d like, but are then asked to move seats right before the day begins. It sounds very “fourth grade” but all teams have cliques which will need to be eliminated to fully encourage cross-departmental teamwork.
  2. Break the ice. Opening up the meeting with an icebreaker is the go-to activity to break down barriers. Learning and sharing something personal opens up communication between people that may not have happened otherwise. Finding connections enables team members to create a quicker bond. One of the most popular items at sparkspace is the thumball. It’s an easy tool and quick icebreaker for any meeting.
  3. Do some bonding. What’s the perfect way to get employees communicating, collaborating? Team bonding. There are many activities to choose from but selecting a team bonding experience that lasts about an hour is the sweet spot for quick collaboration between departments. sparkspace offers two (1 hour) team bonding experiences that encourage communication and collaboration. Click to view our Team Bonding Menu
  4. Get out. A quick team outing example is to split up team members from each department into groups of 2 to 4 and send them out to grab a cup of coffee or breakfast together. Being encouraged to share a meal with someone breaks down the barriers quickly. This is a great, simple way to start a meeting off with building new connections.

Cross-functional collaboration has big benefits. It promotes new ideas, yields different perspectives, challenges old ideas, and encourages teams to learn. These four quick activities will have your company collaborating across all departments.


Here you'll find ideas, tips, and techniques to help make your next offsite your best meeting yet.We've learned a lot during the 15,000+ meetings we've hosted, and we never stop learning (and sharing) because meetings and teams are always evolving. Be sure to leave comments and join the conversation!