By Matt Phang & Ashley Woods
Over the past year, we have seen more innovative solutions and techniques to help foster remote collaboration and streamline processes at the workplace come to fruition as we move into a hybrid working environment. With many people opting to work remotely or go into the office only a few days of the week, companies are looking to adopt new tools and strategies to reimagine their workplace. That said, the focus has extended beyond just working efficiently. Rather, more people are starting to prioritize their mental health, favoring family time over commuting to work, which can take several hours of the day in some of the major cities. Working from home allows individuals to spend more time with their families, take more self-imposed breaks throughout the day, and have the power to work the way they want and wherever they want.
The importance of collaborative tools and strategies
To ensure effective collaboration across teams in different locations, organizations are reworking the ways they engage with employees, offering new tools that allow them to communicate productively. Of note, innovative collaboration techniques and products can improve organizational productivity by 20-30% according to research by McKinsey. Companies are hearing from their employees that they want flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives, which has driven a rise in asynchronized communication and inspired some of the solutions we see today. For example, we are seeing more video applications, such as Loom, which records messages and allows individuals to view team updates on their own time, as opposed to having to watch it live or in-person at a set time. With this tool, employees can now watch a company training or team meeting while cooking dinner or on a walk outside. Solutions such as this allow employees to be flexible with their time, which, in turn, can boost morale and give employees more control of their work day.
Diversifying your communication and collaboration solutions
Companies aren’t limiting themselves to using just one solution nowadays. In many cases, they’re adopting a number of tools from various providers. This may include Zoom for video conferencing, Slack for instant messaging, Monday.com for project management and Egnyte for collaborating on documents and sharing files. This approach is bringing value to today’s distributed workforce. With the decrease in face-to-face interactions, organizations must offer their employees a diverse tool stack that can work hand-in-hand. Now, solutions are being looked at from the lens of “What will allow my employees to collaborate more effectively?” vs. looking at one holistic solution provided by just one company – which may limit efficiencies.
Giving autonomy back to the employees and ensuring their voices are heard
Experimenting with new collaboration tools has become more common across different departments, rather than just being implemented and decided upon by IT decision makers. Previously, IT decision makers would determine which tools delivered the most value. They would then present the solution to executive decision makers who would provide the funds and resources to then be implemented by the IT teams. Now, we are seeing a bottom-up approach where employees from many different departments are discovering and implementing new solutions that work best for them and their teams.
By involving employees in the decision making process and asking for feedback on what they find most important when deciding on collaboration tools, organizations are giving them more of a voice. To illustrate, in many cases, internal surveys are conducted so companies can understand how employees feel about the tools they use, if improvements need to be made, and if a specific tool is increasing productivity. Through this, companies can take feedback into account and provide them with the tools they want and need to be successful.
The future of work and where the industry is headed
As we head into a new era of work, we can expect to see even more innovative solutions come to market. Companies, such as Spatial, are already starting to look to other emerging tech such as AR / VR to create fully immersive experiences when it comes to collaboration. For example, an individual can be in a virtual office space and interact with a computer-generated whiteboard that can actually be written on, as well as viewed by people in the physical office. In addition, there is also a rapid adoption of low-code no-code platforms, such as ServiceNow, which are designed for non-technical citizen developers and business users. These platforms allow anyone within an organization to get involved in the development process and reduce complexities in our work life.
This is only the beginning of what will inevitably be a new way to work. In the next few years, we will see a boom in the number of companies that prioritize their employees’ desire to work remotely. Consequently, companies will allocate more money to ensure their employees are equipped with the latest tools and technology to allow them to work efficiently – whether that’s from home, the local coffee shop or from the office.
Looking to learn more about the buzz on returning to work/ thoughts on the hybrid work model? Check out our report on the New State of Hybrid Work.