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Workplace Collaboration Trends for 2020 and Beyond

By: Ankur Goel

The ‘office’ as we know it has completely transformed over the past decade. Executive cabins and office cubicles are a thing of the past and it has been replaced by open offices. Workforce is more diverse than ever, and businesses, more global than ever.

‘Work’ is no longer a place we go to.

Employees today are more collaborative, networked, dynamic, and multidisciplinary than ever. For 2020 and beyond, we foresee that the one-size-fits-all workday will be replaced based on the goals of the company and needs of their employees. Companies will focus on providing flexible working culture to their employees and work towards creating an environment that values innovation and collaboration within the workplace.

Going forward, the way we work and collaborate with peers, clients and stakeholders will be starkly different than what it is today.

What do millennials want from their employees?

In the past, corporate culture was top-down and rigid, with mandated working hours, seating arrangements, stipulated lunch breaks – basically the anti-thesis to the new generation of workers that are slowly settling in. However, millennials are different from the older generations with respect to what they seek in their job. They value work-life balance, seek challenges and look for organizations that allow them to work the way they want and with the technologies of their choice.

According to industry reports, millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the chief wage earners in India with a 47% share in the working age population. Given that India is home to a large population of young workers, it is important that companies work towards providing a work culture that attracts millennials.

I have set out a few workplace and collaboration predictions for the next decade that will be realized and brought on by the influence and demands of millennials and the modern workforce.

  1. Meetings will get smarter and more mobile – Technology, like the latest intelligent face-detection and voice triangulation cameras, wireless content-sharing, a simple ‘click to join’ meeting interface, AI and advanced analytics will help meetings get smarter and more productive.
  2. The hyper-collaborative organisation –The next step for individuals, teams and organisations would be to go from being “collaborative” amongst themselves to “hyper-collaborative” – bringing together knowledge, capabilities and ideas from a number of ecosystems, geographies and industries. Going forward, more workplaces will be open to embracing ‘anywhere working’ that enables this evolution in partnerships and teamwork. Enabling people to work, the way they want, where they want and in a hyper-collaborative manner that will become business-normal.
  1. Bridging the urban-rural divide – With the improvement of our broadband infrastructure, India becomes more digitally inclusive and we can expect to see a jump in demand for collaboration solutions like high definition video and digital content sharing that were previously unavailable.
  1. Big board room designs will be replaced by huddle rooms – According to a recent study titled “Perils of the Open Office”, more than 55% of the respondents in India prefer open plan offices. However, the drawback to having an open office is that with wall partitions brought down, ambient noise and distractions in the environment increase. As a work-around to this, organizations are beginning to see the benefits of installing smaller rooms within the workplace. These huddle rooms accommodate up to six people and when outfitted with the right technology, can spur high energy interactions – perfect for the modern workforce that needs to be agile and highly collaborative. The younger generation’s love for the open office will force the management’s hand to rethink how the modern workplace will look like, and huddle rooms will no longer be a good-to-have but a must-have for organizations no matter what sizes and businesses they are running.
  1. 4K video conferencing will be the gold standard for businesses looking for long-distance face-time – While current video conferencing technology has proved to be remarkably effective in connecting people across the globe for simple collaboration purposes, the quality and capabilities of many current solutions still fall short of some expectations, especially for those used to high-speed, high-resolution video in an always-connected age. Going forward, 4K video conferencing will gain prominence.

India’s workforce is dynamic, agile and our employees are usually the first to embrace the possibilities that technology brings. For 2020 and beyond, it is imperative that organizations and business leaders pay closer attention to empowering these future innovators to greater heights through the right collaboration tools and working environment.

(The author is Managing Director for Poly India and the views expressed in the article are his own)

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