A Brief Look at the Changing Landscape in Employee Collaboration

Workplace collaboration has grown into an established business model for companies that want to stay competitive, attract top talent, and increase productivity. In a recent survey of large companies, 97 percent stated that open innovation is important or critical to higher business performance. At its core, there are several factors driving this push for innovation through collaboration.

The workforce landscape is changing 
By 2020, an estimated 86 million millennials will be in the workplace, accounting for 40 percent of the total working population. Millennials bring with them a desire for greater collaboration: 88 percent of millennials say they prefer a collaborative work environment instead of a competitive one. But in a global marketplace, companies still need to remain competitive. That’s why companies must increase focus on tools that drive innovation, efficiency and productivity. Combined with these trends is the ongoing shift towards more remote workers and a global presence, making effective collaboration critical to business success.

The shift towards collaboration affects budgeting and investment
As employees push for more collaboration tools, companies need to stay one step ahead by analyzing these tools and formalizing a company-wide strategy. A Microsoft shop may want to integrate Teams, Skype and Office 365, while a startup might look at Zoom or Google Hangouts for a low-cost alternative. These decisions have a ripple effect as companies begin to look at budget ownership, product investment, and security risk assessment. Businesses that plan for this scenario have the luxury of choosing their direction rather than scrambling to react in the future.

The shift towards collaboration affects budgeting and investment

Budget and spending trends are moving away from AV hardware towards IT and software-based solutions 
Mersive has conducted market research and found some key insights: AV budgets have been shifting away from facilities for the last several years, and budget share has recently been increasing for lines of business (LOBs) and IT. The reality is that companies now rely less on AV hardware to get work done and are instead turning to IT solutions and software-based platforms. 

IT and Line-of-Business budget focus 
In today’s collaborative landscape, companies are focusing their spending on more huddle spaces and transitional spaces (eg, snack rooms, break rooms) for effective team collaboration and community building. While there is still the same investment in medium-sized conference rooms, there is less investment in larger conference rooms. Larger rooms are not optimal for small team meetings, which is where most collaboration and innovation occurs, and they end up becoming wasted space. Companies are also putting more collaboration technology in place, focusing on tools that support impromptu, unplanned communication. For example, many companies turn to Slack for team chat, Asana for team workflows and project management, Zoom for web conferencing, and Mersive’s Solstice for wireless collaboration in meeting rooms and huddle spaces. 

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Investment in transforming workplace collaboration will continue for years to come
Researchers expect to see more momentum in the adoption of software and tools that help employees connect. Even now, the use of chat, workflow and project management, web conferencing, and in-room wireless collaboration tools is exploding. These tools are being used in cross-functional, cross-regional efforts to make meetings more engaging and productive. 

While it’s still early in this new trend of budget ownership, budget investment, and collaboration behavior, the future is racing ahead whether companies are ready or not. Companies are focusing their budget ownership, research, and investment on software-based platforms and workplace designs that enable collaboration, and these trends should continue for years to come.