As technology continues to evolve at a neck-breaking pace, businesses are forced to keep up and keep it simple.
The rise of the millennial generation is no doubt causing a paradigm shift in today’s workforce. As employees get increasingly accustomed to an environment that’s all about instant access, flexible working, and anywhere collaboration, digital transformation in the workplace is imminent.
With the changing dynamics of the modern-day workforce, it is now more vital than ever for businesses to create a collaborative work environment that empowers employees with the ability to connect and communicate anytime, anywhere. In fact, Australian businesses are already recognising the importance of this and expanding their digital capabilities, with most noting a five per cent increase in their ICT budgets this year— specifically in the area of mobility and cloud unified communications.
The benefits of workplace collaboration have without a doubt been well documented. According to a Deloitte report commissioned by Google Australia, companies that make the most of opportunities to collaborate more have the potential to garner an additional value $A9.3 billion per year. In addition, the research also showed that those who prioritise collaboration are five times more likely to experience a considerable increase in employment and twice as likely to outgrow competitors.
Evidently, collaboration is rising to become one of the key drivers behind revenue gains and talent retention. At its core, it also has the capability to boost operational productivity and in turn, create a more efficient workforce.
Tailoring to the Rise of the Digital Workforce
Millennials are entering the workforce in large numbers, with PwC predicting that by 2020, they will come to make up half of the global workforce. Also known as the digital natives, these highly tech-savvy individuals have grown up with convenient solutions and are used to having intuitive communication methods at their fingertips. As such, the need for simplified tools and consumerised technologies in the workplace has never been more critical than now.
Indeed, digital employees are always on the lookout for the latest consumer applications and services to pursue work opportunities—with priority and attention often given to user-friendly solutions that provide instant gratification. They desire to apply the same communication technologies from their daily lives in the workplace. Hence, when faced with a work problem, employees may prefer to draw upon their own solutions and devices.
As a result, businesses are also pushing hard on simplified collaboration technologies as the next phase of efficiency. However, most business tools do not actually have the walk-up-and-use factor expected by employees today. For example, the typical AV room has more functionality than what is usually required in meetings. Fundamentally, the degree of complexity built into these systems is not where technology is headed. Consumer devices are increasingly being designed to be intuitive and simple to use, and while these tools are becoming more powerful, their interfaces have remained easy to grasp.
Clearly, traditional workplace collaboration is incompatible with a mobile world, where users have convenient access to communication applications unrestrained by location. This is all the more so for businesses with erratic meetings, where clunky technology does not get used at all. Undoubtedly, the inconvenience of complex tools that require IT intervention and bookings in advance is no longer suited for the efficient standards of communication amongst today’s highly mobile workforce.
Technology as a Driver of Workplace Collaboration
It almost goes without saying that technological innovation is one of the strongest drivers of collaboration in the workplace today. Developments in communication technologies have enabled employees to become collaborative regardless of geographical locations. In particular, with the rise of video conferencing tools and social media, employees can interact over virtual channels almost instantaneously.
More recently, with smart devices and the BYOD trend going mainstream, remote participation in meetings and discussions has also become highly popular amongst companies. Indeed, BYOD policies for one are no longer a bonus but the norm in the workplace today. Businesses are increasingly recognising the use of personal devices at work as a clear indicator of the tools desired by employees—and something they can’t and shouldn’t continue to shun.
According to Telsyte’s Australia Enterprise Mobility Market Study 2015, a combination of BYOD and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) is now an option for over 70 per cent of surveyed organisations. Palpably, organisations are already looking to keep pace with the workplace of the future by offering flexible, consumer technologies to facilitate collaboration.
Why Intuitiveness is Key to the Future of Collaboration
For employees to effectively collaborate, they must have efficient, simple tools that feel intuitive. The ideal is to have plug-and-play, walk-up-and-use technologies that require no dedicated user training. Simplicity is essential because collaborative technologies only work if everyone is on the same platform, so it must be usable by all denominators regardless of how technologically adept they are.
To have broad appeal, collaborative technologies must be second nature. Complex communication tools with excess functions hamper teamwork because the message is compromised by its accessibility. The key to efficient collaboration is to give employees a simple way to transfer and receive information, regardless of location.
The Need to Cultivate a Collaborative Work Environment
Collaboration essentially harnesses workers into a connected system of working that aggregates knowledge and creates accountability as a team. A more focused, connected team has clearly defined goals that reduces work overlap and prioritises the most important work. Skills are pooled and a sense of teamwork may be fostered from a system of exchange and feedback, leading to the achievement of work goals. According to the Australia’s Future Workforce? report by CEDA, more than 50 per cent of CEOs believe collaboration and teamwork in the executive team is the most important trait for success.
At the same time, a collaborative workplace also improves knowledge management. Client content and conversations are streamlined into a single accessible point, allowing work to be handed off and recommenced without hiccups. In fact, employees who collaborate reportedly work 15 per cent faster on average, with the majority producing higher quality work and experiencing a greater job satisfaction. Indeed, a collaborative environment can provide the means to efficient communication, ensuring greater productivity and consequently, revenue gains.
Evidently, workplace collaboration has the potential to boost performance and deliver true business value for companies.
However, in order to successfully foster a collaborative culture, it is critical for companies to note that simplicity is key. There should be no complicated setup and no need for expensive software. Ultimately, it is about providing the space, the technology and the policies so that anytime, anywhere collaboration can take place freely and naturally.
By 2020, Millenials will make up half of the global workforce
A combination of BYOD and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) is now an option for over 70 per cent of organisations
More than 50 per cent of CEOs believe collaboration and teamwork in the executive team is the most important trait for success
Employees who collaborate reportedly work 15 per cent faster on average, with the majority producing higher quality work and experiencing a greater job satisfaction.
Peter McAlpine is currently Region Manager for ANZ at SMART Technologies. In his role, Peter is primarily responsible for driving customer success and fully enabling the company’s extensive reseller channel. Peter has an extensive career spanning 20 years in the IT industry and brings a wealth of knowledge to SMART.
Peter began his working life as a secondary school teacher and still maintains the passion for education instilled in him from those early days.