Collaboration: How the Future of Work Will Drive Innovation

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Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword, it can significantly impact an organisation’s bottom line through improved innovation, performance, and cultural and financial benefits. Smart businesses are therefore becoming more connected. People rarely operate in isolation and, what’s more, they’re not just collaborating with people in the same office. They’re working closely with team members, partners, and suppliers that can be located half a world away.

Making Work Fun

Collaborating with colleagues can take the drudgery out of work. Using new tools and platforms can introduce playfulness into work engagement, such as through gamification. And the increasing consumerisation of business applications means employees can create their own social media communities and communicate instantly using a shared language. 


As more tasks become automated through artificial intelligence and bots, people aren’t becoming obsolete. Instead, the human contribution becomes even more valuable. Rather than spending time on mundane tasks, people can free their minds to be creative, to focus on design thinking and relationship building. This is driving a more inclusive, collaborative, and results-focused environment.


Virtual workspaces using new intranet tools and systems give people engaging hubs to disseminate key information and work optimally. Work is what you get done, not where and when you do it. So businesses need to leverage the right technology to let people work well from anywhere, anytime. 
Digital toolkits include chat applications, cloud document storage, and project management. The workforce of the future expects enterprise tools that are lean, social, and device-agnostic, like those in their everyday lives. 


The Role of Millennials


Blamed for many of society’s ills, millennials are driving positive advances in the way we work. Millennials have been found to use as many as five screens at once; multi-screening is natural for them. They’re therefore excellent at filtering out non-relevant or non-engaging information. And they don’t tend to email or call, instead preferring messaging apps. 


Considering 70 per cent of Australians of all ages use Facebook and one in six use Snapchat daily, it’s clear that modern workers are changing the way they communicate. Images, video, and short-form text have replaced other formats.  


The Continuing Importance of Physical Engagement


With so many ways to collaborate and interact online, you could be forgiven for thinking that the workplace of the future is simply a group of individuals working from their homes or other locations, rarely meeting in real life. 


The truth is that this type of working can result in employee disengagement. This has sparked a wave in innovation in physical workspaces. Many businesses have moved beyond the conventional open plan to more creative ways of breaking down internal barriers and leaning into the capabilities of technology to reinvent the office. The result, ideally, is a shared space that employees want to spend time in, and that stimulates and facilitates collaboration. 


Cutting-edge workspaces have reduced individual offices and increased the number of shared spaces for staff. A Regus study found that Australian workers believe that spaces designed for collaboration are 74 per cent more likely to produce innovation and 72 per cent more likely to engage the entrepreneurial spirit. 
Workshop zones are becoming more common and they’re not just rooms with tables, chairs, and whiteboards. Instead they house technology or toys that employees are actively encouraged to experiment with to drive collaboration and innovative thinking. They often include conferencing technology, too, so teams from anywhere in the world can work together on shared documents and even shared reality, in some cases. 


Where to From Here?


As a business leader, you don’t want employees just showing up and clocking in. You want employees to bring their full selves, blurring the lines between leisure and work. This helps unlock skills that employees may otherwise have had no impetus to share but that can help drive innovation.


You therefore need to invest in technology to help you and your people monitor, personalise, and optimise how you use your spaces. And you should inspire innovation by creating physical areas and regular initiatives that encourage staff to get inventive. This helps make innovation the norm, rather than something unusual. 


And remember, technology doesn’t have to be equipment on a desk, traditionally configured. Your technology can move with you and be embedded in almost anything. 

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