The way we work is changing. Collaboration technologies are, in my view, more than just tools to allow us to cater for a mobile workforce, or to lower the costs of travel for our people. They are essential to enabling them to do their jobs effectively and efficiently – to share information and ideas with their colleagues, customers as well as with supplier organisations. Put simply, collaboration technologies make new ways of doing things possible.
With more advanced mobile devices, cloud based systems and the move to a more collaborative workspace environment, employees now have the freedom to work from anywhere. I believe that these trends will only continue to change the way we use our workplaces as well as the look and feel of them.
Understanding the long-term trends that are likely to shape our workplaces and their implications for the way in which we support our people to do their jobs will be a crucial challenge for facilities managers, as well as for senior managers in the HR and IT organisations respectively.
Here are three key trends shaping today’s workplace that I believe will transform how we work now and in the future:
The adaptive workplace
The future of business requires organisations to deliver fully integrated information and collaboration tools to employees. These tools should be designed around the needs of the individual employee and offer them direct empowerment and freedom to choose what is best suited for them. This includes, for example, mixing home and office based activity or making BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) a practical reality for everyone.
Meetings rooms eventually become a thing of the past
The way in which we hold meetings is evolving, partly in response to how new technologies continue to change the way we communicate. Better quality and easier-to-use collaboration solutions are making virtual meetings feel as natural as face-to-face ones, enabling users to have a common experience regardless of their location or device. I expect visual communications to be one of the biggest facilitators in next-generation team collaboration.
Open collaboration connecting to anywhere, from anywhere, at any time
Mobile devices, cloud computing and web conferencing technologies allow employees to collaborate even when they work remotely and in different locations, or while they are on the road. Obtaining and sharing knowledge 24/7 is becoming easier and faster, and this trend is accelerating with the ever increasing adoption of mobile devices in the workplace.
Moreover, the workspace itself is changing significantly. To reduce real-estate space and related expenses, some companies are moving from rows of desks to more open workspaces and offering employees flexible work arrangements. As a result, we are not governed by location anymore to define where and how we work. New technology innovations such as digital whiteboards, cloud-based video conferencing will help to support this transformation.