The most important technology for workplace collaboration in 2019

Carry out a Google Images search for the term ‘1980s office’ and the results will showcase workplaces full of partition desks and cubicles where workers got on with their tasks in silos.

Four decades later: Everything has changed.

Today: The walls between co-workers have largely been replaced by open plan office designs with breakout areas and advanced huddle rooms where colleagues from around the world can communicate.

What’s more: The seismic shift towards collaborative workplaces shows no signs of stopping.

So: Here are five pieces of workplace collaboration technology every business should invest in today to ensure they’re not left behind tomorrow.

Team chat

In 2019, email communication is simply not efficient and fast enough.

In fact: Studies suggest that it takes the average person between 16 and 24 minutesto respond to an email.

So: Team chat apps offer the antidote to this clunky form of comms, which some business experts have been predicting will become obsolete since 2015.

With interactive technology like Slack, Flock, Google Hangouts Chat and Facebook Workplace, teams – both on-site and remote – can communicate with each other in real time.

Today: More than 10 million people use Slack alone, and the number of team chat users looks set to rise as more competitors enter the market.

Video chat

Video conferencing has become dramatically more streamlined over the past few years.

Problems such as buffering, poor connectivity and audio distortions have been eliminated by slick new platforms.

Today: Employees and contractors from all over world can communicate as seamlessly as if they were in the same room.

Options include:

  • Skype for Business
  • GoToMeeting
  • Join.me
  • Zoom

The latter is reported to be used by half the companies in the Fortune 50 list.

It’s biggest draw?

The platform picks up on whoever is talking and fills the screen with their image. When another person takes over the conversation, the image on screen zooms in on them.

Interactive displays

Over the past few years businesses wanting to improve workplace collaboration have evolved their meeting rooms into huddle rooms or war rooms.

The difference?

The latter are agile spaces designed to make interaction between both on-site and remote workers more efficient and simpler.

Now: The heart of a huddle room is an interactive display.

These touch-screen displays serve multiple functions…

  • They can connect to the cloud so anyone using them can access company documents and annotate and manipulate them in real time for colleagues to see.
  • They can be connected to video apps like Zoom so remote workers can see everything that’s going on on-screen and in-house workers can see them back.
  • They can be connected to chat apps, so other remote workers can add their input into the things that are being discussed and presented using the interactive display.

Digital project management tools

One of the greatest threats to effective workplace collaboration is poor communication.

A sure-fire way to improve communication within a business is to invest in digital project management tools.

Here’s the deal: Platforms such as Trello, Wrike and Jira make it possible for teams to see exactly who is working on what at any given second.

Plus: These platforms allow detailed records to be kept of every decision and task carried out on a project or job, in case of any confusion or lack of clarity.

Wearables

Demand for flexible working hours and conditions is on the up.

As a result:

Companies are implementing policies such as unlimited vacation and the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) in order to keep workers happy as well as maximise productivity.

This is why wearables are becoming increasingly important.

Smart watches, for example, make it easy to contact OOO employees for urgent matters.

Meanwhile:

Emerging technologies like smart glasses allow remote or on-the-go workers to jump into a video call by simply putting on a pair of digital spectacles.

What’s next?

Collaboration technology is in its ascendency.

What’s available in 2019 will only be added to in 2020 and beyond.

For example: New technology is becoming available that allows colleagues to meet in virtual reality spaces.

Here’s the deal:

Co-workers can use tech from companies like MeetinVR in order to be able to virtually stand side by side with their remote colleagues and manipulate 3D models, sketches, prototypes and mind-maps together in that virtual space.

Then there are holograms.

Holograms will make it easier for colleagues – both remote and on-site – to explain ideas, designs and prototypes to their colleagues.

Microsoft, for example, has announced that it will start selling its HoloLens 2 to enterprises later in 2019.

To sum up

More and more companies are developing cultures that foster workplace collaboration

Technology such as:

  • Team chat
  • Video chat
  • Interactive displays
  • Digital project management tools
  • Wearables

…are essential for successful workplace collaboration in 2019.

Plus, new technology is being developed all the time.

Virtual reality and holograms will play a vital role in workplace collaboration in the near future.

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