2017 Collaboration Trends: Tech and Non-tech

How business teams coordinate and the technology they use to interact changes rapidly each year. 2017 is definitely not the exception, as teams look for innovative ways to keep tasks on time and meetings productive there are a host of new technology features and new collaboration philosophies that will come in handy. Let’s dive into 3 of the hottest new trends you will see in offices all over the world.

The Internet in Your Coffee Machine

Internet connectivity is now available to approximately 50% of the world’s population and high-speed connectivity following closely behind. As more and more devices become internet-capable (including coffee machines), the possibilities for integration and efficiency are endless in what is becoming commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The term itself is rather broad, but refers to the growing interconnectivity of technology from smartphones, room thermostats, marketing data, PCs, sensors, and almost any technology capable of internet connection.

The possibilities of the IoT are seemingly endless and are only just now being realized and put to use. The primary benefit of IoT is increased efficiency through direct energy conservation as well as insights that teams can gather from integrated data across the IoT. Business data across the IoT can give companies insights into customer behavior otherwise unseen, bring about revenue from new marketing strategies or introduce new products with information uncovered from the IoT. The IoT can give businesses the edge over the competition, the key is figuring out how to use this complex data ecosystem to your advantage.

Presentations are Old News

Presentations are one key aspect of office culture that is lagging behind when it comes to adoption of creativity and creative technology to engage audiences. Typically presentations today revolve around chronological talking points, outlined on paper and/or a slide presentation with bullet-points and easily digestible infographics. These methods have been proven effective in the past, but as creativity, collaboration, and innovation are more and more necessary to stay ahead of the competition, the ways in which information is being presented is rapidly changing.

Today’s younger workers require more involvement than in the past, they want to know that their ideas and efforts are recognized and how they fit into the bigger picture of company goals. In many ways the hierarchical structure of information is being broken down and transparency of company operations are being increased. Rather than rigid presentations on what one part of the business is doing and how it is affecting the other, we are seeing the introduction of collaboration tools, like project management software, in which teams across the business can keep track of their progress through interactive Gantt charts, dashboards, and integrated chats. These tools are already commonplace, but the way in which teams are presenting information is shifting from a set, formal slide presentation to constant updates that are easily accessible across departments.

Intelligent Workplace Design

The past several years have seen a drastic change in office design. The 1980s through the late 1990s were the years of the cubicle – tight, grey boxes that offered privacy and an assigned workplace for everyone. Over time the cubicle became associated with corporate monotony and seclusion, often portrayed in pop culture in films like Office Space. Beginning in 2009 the “open air office” became popular in the startup world for its supposed benefits of increased collaboration and innovation. However, the tearing down of personal space has led to some unintended consequences – constant distractions, anxiety, and a lack of increased productivity has slowed the momentum that open air offices had half a decade ago.

What’s old is new again in workplace design. A hybrid office consisting of open air collaboration spaces, private lounges, and conventional desk spaces are the trend in office spaces in 2017. Everyone works differently and having an office that can fit anyone’s work style and offer other options as well is a good way for employees to feel comfortable working in a space tailored to them, but not confined to it. We will see the effects on productivity and employee satisfaction of an all-of-the-above office design approach in a few years, but it is increasingly clear that a workplace that is adaptable and offers a diversity of options is best suited for a younger generation of workers.

Alex BrownAlex Brown

Alex writes about collaboration tools, PM best practices, and other tech trends at ProjectManager.com.