What are the top three corporate collaboration trends for 2018?
When Gartner released its 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018 last month, one of the biggest themes was “the blending of the digital and physical worlds to create an immersive, digitally enhanced environment”. Even though this was predicting generic tech trends, in many ways, this epitomises what is happening with collaboration in the workplace. Today’s businesses have become a combination of people, devices, content and services that collaborate through multi-dimensional communication.
In 2018 and beyond, any trends in workplace technology will reflect this evolving and increasingly connected environment. We have identified three key areas that will influence collaboration for the year ahead.
Fluid and flexible Office Layouts
The transformation of workspaces and office layouts has had a real positive impact on employee collaboration in recent years. We can expect this trend pick up pace in 2018, as we see more Smart Buildings going up and traditional office walls coming down. Whether it’s a new build corporate HQ or an SME’s small scale office refurb, the physical barriers to collaboration are being removed. Workspaces are being rethought and redesigned, creating connected environments that bring people and information together to improve operational efficiency and productivity.
Cost savings is one of the biggest drivers behind the changes as companies look to get the most out of their floor space. Inevitably, the evolving workforce and the rise of remote working have had a dramatic impact on the need for flexible layouts. In 2018 and beyond, offices will be far more fluid with multi-use spaces that incorporate smaller meeting areas and huddle rooms. Technology will be the key enabler to allow employees to seamlessly communicate and collaborate wherever they choose to work and meet.
Improved user experience and ease of adoption
The transitioning working environment and distributed workforces has increased demand for effective and intuitive collaboration technology. Employees want to connect and collaborate with their colleagues regardless of their location or device. The process has to be simple and seamless, whether the user is connecting from a meeting room, their own device or a third party platform.
Employees want intelligent, unified solutions that are easy to use and integrate with the rest of the office’s systems. Businesses have become wise to investing in solutions purely based on technological capabilities. They want simple ‘plug and play’ with all of the functionality but none of the set up hassle. The latest collaboration solutions should be focused around ease of use and adoption to drive productivity and improve visual communication.
It may sound like a giant leap, however, as interactivity already forms the basis of many of today’s collaboration solutions, virtual and augmented reality is the next logical step. There was much hype surrounding VR/AR last year and speculation as to how it can be used effectively to improve collaboration. This kind of immersive technology is certainly one to watch during the year, even if it is only at the early adopters’ stage. Collaboration could be one of the biggest application areas for AR and VR, particularly with the any time, any place, any where work ethic that is prevalent in many organisations.
The devices are still evolving, yet there are an abundance of apps and 360 degree videos geared already been trialled in sectors such as education. There is also huge scope for VR in the corporate world. In creative industries and areas involving product design, VR would enable teams to collaborate by visualising proposed ideas and changes from different locations. In fact, VR would allow cross-company collaboration on just about any process that can be carried out in the physical world, from marketing and manufacturing, to production and finance. They can all be simulated and visualised in the digital world, whether it is for training or practical applications.
The way that we work is changing rapidly, businesses need to ensure they have a technology strategy that is adaptable and fluid and, ultimately, moves with the demands of their workforce.