Home / Topic / Kerala-floods /  Collaboration: The key to the future workplace

Advanced technology and a younger, tech-savvier workforce have modernized our work environment. Businesses must work faster and collaborate across distances more than ever. To speed up operations and facilitate connections, companies are looking to invest in collaboration technology, which includes video, audio, content sharing and mobile applications, all of which make work possible from anywhere, at any time.

The biggest shift in the modern enterprise has been the uptake and adoption of new technologies by the workforce. It’s a changing attitude being ushered in by the younger generations, including millennials, but rapidly supported by baby boomers and Generation Y. Despite the age range, there are three main drivers of this push towards the future workplace: a desire for flexibility, autonomy and ease.

Flexibility isn’t just about hours; it’s about location and style, too. In an increasingly globalized world, we might be part of a team that is spread across several time zones. In order to remain efficient, we might need to have early morning calls with Asia and late evening sessions with the US. That doesn’t mean we need to work 12-hour days. The rise in remote working, improved connectivity and anywhere collaboration mean that we can dial in to calls, join video meetings and present to colleagues from anywhere; our desk, our home, a huddle room or the local park as our kids play.

Demands of the modern worker

The modern worker demands more control over the workplace, patterns and productivity. This is also achieved through technology.

Employees are seeking out employers who empower them to achieve maximum efficiency. This means creating an experience of autonomy where employees can choose the technologies that best suit them and their role, because in the workplace of the future they want to work smarter, not longer.

Technologies like video collaboration used to be isolated in meeting rooms, difficult to book and complicated to launch. This is no longer the case. The biggest driver of technology adoption has been ease of use. From the Apple iPhone to Skype for Business, the heavyweights are focusing on simple, intuitive software and hardware that doesn’t require a degree to operate.

The second part of ease of use is centred on integration. Users who are comfortable with Skype for Business don’t want to have to step outside of that comfort zone to make a video call, so the seamless integration of the Skype for Business interface into their workflows is key to the raised profile of video in the enterprise. It’s also about the integration of future technologies into business processes, whether it is making it standard practice for HR to interview over video, or conducting speech and language assessments over video in a medical context.

One in two people says that having more access to video will increase use. More video won’t mean more work for IT either; over 80% indicate that their video conference didn’t take too long to set up. Making it fit into their workflow easily is the key to an easy life for the IT department tasked with driving adoption.

The CIO’s role

The emergence of collaboration technology changes the role of the CIO. Not only do CIOs link the boardroom to the IT department, now they also manage the shift from a physical business infrastructure to a digital one. It’s up to CIOs to provide employees with the technology they need to be most productive. To do so, CIOs have to show the board how the investment in collaboration unlocks potential to foster team collaboration, mobilize and retain talent as well as promote creativity.

CIOs can navigate these changes if they have the right collaboration tools at their fingertips. Employees expect to be able to use their personal phones, tablets, even some wearables, and experience the same performance in the workplace as they do at home. They want a single platform to run both their work and personal lives. Smooth integration of these devices with enterprise applications is a must, and it must happen without compromising data security or network function. The latest cloud collaboration systems operate across devices and platforms, giving IT leaders the ability to connect employees while retaining control of company systems.

Employees also want the capability to work from anywhere, which is in part why using their own devices is so important. Productive millennials are proving by example that flexible work environments can succeed, assuming they provide easy connections to colleagues, partners, customers and data. It’s up to CIOs to choose collaboration technology that enhances productivity from outside the office while simultaneously protecting business assets.

Finally, today’s CIOs share responsibility for the bottom line. Their IT departments must account for technology’s role in enabling productivity. Collaboration technology, including analytics software, helps IT teams share information about the performance of the organization, its employees and its digital infrastructure.

Workspace, experience and workflow matters

The way we think and feel about work has changed drastically over the past 10 years, and will continue to shift over the next 10. Ultimately the changing expectations of the worker and their impact on enterprise IT deployments can be summarized under three business pillars: workspace, experience and workflow. It’s the desire to collaborate anywhere, in a natural way and with impact. Workers don’t just want unified communications, they are demanding high quality mobile and cloud solutions that are woven into their business functions.

CIOs will remain concerned that any investment in technology will need to work today and in the future. If collaboration technology is to become adopted on a mass scale, it needs to be easy to deploy across multiple users, devices and meeting environments.

With millennials continuing to stream into the workforce, organizations in India and the rest of the world have to focus on bridging young and educated talent from across the world. Only the most connected and collaborative organizations can ensure that they can prepare for the workplace and the workforce of the future.

The author is president, Polycom Asia Pacific.

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