Work Better Part 1 – The Future of Teamwork
The world is a fundamentally changed place, yet the way we work is designed for a bygone era. The fastest and most overwhelming change in the workplace is about to happen right now, the time is here. In fact the change has already started.
An atomic bomb of paradigm shifts is about to be dropped in the workplace and it will never be the same again. Teams that evolve to the new way of working will go on, thrive and do the greatest of things. Teams that don’t, will keep on doing what they have been doing and thereby increasing the margin between themselves and the new way of work.
With the huge transformation experienced in the workplace over the last few years, we have decided to create the Work Better series of articles about teamwork in the workplace and using the right tools to optimise team performance and productivity. Your team is one of your biggest assets and you should treat them like the investments they are. Nurture them, equip them with whatever it is they need in order to produce the highest quality work on deadlines, while still enjoying what they do.
The topics we will be exploring in this series is:
- The Future of Teamwork
- Remote Work
- Freelance vs Teamwork
- Optimal Tools for Optimal Results
- How to achieve ten times more
The Future Of Teamwork
With the exponential growth of remote working and a shift in focus from 9 to 5 time management to productivity and performance, the greatest technology innovations in the digital world right now will be in the workplace.
“As remote working tools become preferable over face-to-face interactions, their development will dictate how we work in the future. Work, file management, file collaboration, conference call, chat, automated workflows and task management tools, these are all the kinds of technologies that are allowing people to work remotely while getting more out of it. Increased productivity, performance, morals, teamwork, transparency and security allow companies to work better. “ – Carl Wallace CEO of Digital HQ & Founder of ydox.
The past 20 years have seen some of the greatest inventions and change in the workplace. From landline telephone calls, flights for long distance meetings and letters for fax and mail by post to smart devices that can handle voice and face calls, long distance meetings, email and instant messaging right in the palm of your hand.
1. Remote tools are becoming the norm, even among non-remote staff
We will soon reach a point where remote platforms become preferable to face-to-face communication, because of the various additional capabilities and opportunities they unlock. As a result, it is suggested that we’re quickly approaching a future where remote working tools are standard, whether your colleagues are sitting right next to you, or on the other side of the planet. Quick discussions can take place from one desk to another without wasting time in between offices getting caught up in unnecessary office gossip.
We are still some time away from this reality as the software is way ahead of the hardware in this game and for this future to become reality we need the best hardware to make our software dreams come true. When this happens, collaboration tools will be entirely virtual, putting all stakeholders, people and work itself, from various locations in the same in the same room.
2. Remote workers will increase productivity & work even more remotely
Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices are great for sending quick messages or making minor changes to existing projects, but few remote workers are able to get the bulk of their day’s tasks completed using a truly mobile device. There is a place for mobile and a place for laptops/desktops. I don’t believe the one replaces the other. Certain smaller remote tasks are perfect for mobile devices but the heavy lifting is still done on proper laptops, creating plenty of space for innovation both on mobile and cloud desktop platforms.
Video conferencing tools are ok for general discussions but the moment you need to work, enter significant amounts of information or co-work on office files the technology is way behind.
With ydox we are solving these issues with mobile first tools for mobile-specific tasks and desktop first tools for desktop specific tasks. The tools in ydox and the third party platforms it integrates with should enable teams to achieve more remotely than they could do in the same room.
3. Out with Videoconferencing, in with VR Conferencing
The past decade has seen significant strides in videoconference technology, yet the tools currently on the market still have their limitations. In order to reach a point where remote working tools are just as, if not more effective, than in-person communication, video conferencing will need to feel a lot more natural than it does today.
If you think about video conferencing today, typically the eye contact doesn’t really work well, the person is never at the right angle, they’re never the right size. The experience is awkward and is the root cause of its lack of success.
The future of real-time remote communications is in augmented and virtual reality. For example, in 2016, Microsoft Research announced that it was experimenting with a product called Holoportation, which combined the Hololense VR goggles with 3D cameras to beam life-sized holograms of other people or objects in real time.
The idea was that you would see the person, life-sized, as if they were standing next to you, in a way that would be more compelling than video conferencing. Taking this idea one step further, there will come a time when projects are conceived, designed, and prototyped entirely within this virtual world, making the digital platform preferable to in-person communication.
Topping this would be recordings of every meeting and every word spoken documented. The one big problem we see today is the lack of proof of what was said in meetings where agreements were not concluded. Transparency and accountability will be some of the great fruits of this new development.
4. Un-unified communications
Perhaps the most common buzzword within the remote collaboration space of the past decade was “unified communications,” a fancy way of saying a single platform for all communication types.
The idea of doing all things in one place may have appealed to the first generation to embrace remote work, but as the practice expands to a wider working population, service providers are seeing demand for more specialised tools, rather than fewer, more generalised ones.
If you think about a typical developer, they will use Google Docs for documentation, Slack for messaging, GitHub for code storage, etc, and these things were never designed to talk to each other.
Rather than attempting to design an all-in-one remote collaboration platform, the industry will continue to fracture.
“We’re concentrated on making the communication piece really good,” Cal Henderson, the CTO, and co-founder of Slack told Fast Company at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon in early November. “We’re never going to make the best possible word processor or the best possible wiki or the best possible voice and video calls or the best possible file storage, because for different use cases and different business customers, ‘the best’ has different meanings.”
Instead, Henderson believes the number of software categories is only going to continue to increase in the coming years, with more niche products designed for more specific industries and roles.
From a cost perspective running 10 various platforms to get the job done costs a fortune per employee, ad a team of 100 and you are spending way too much just to get people working together.
Our investment in ydox is a result of our strong belief that we can bring the critical elements of work together into one platform and make it work really really well. Of course, we won’t try and stuff every tool into one but rather integrate with many other tools so at least everything you do could talk to one another even if ydox is the middle point for this joint discussion.
5. AI Will Help Manage Remote Staff
With less human oversight, Henderson believes the growing remote workforce will gradually begin taking direction from artificial intelligence tools. Since remote workers are more removed from management, they aren’t able to get the same level of instant feedback, particularly when it comes to prioritising their workload, we have this problem in our business all the time, either with creatives working remotely or myself not being around the office, but still the job needs to continue at full speed, no time to hesitate and no time to make the wrong decisions.
“You want people to understand that of the three things they could do right now, here is the one that is most aligned with what we’re trying to do as an organisation,” Henderson says. “To the extent that technology can help communicate that clarity around vision and priorities, that’s hugely helpful for people prioritising their own work.”
Henderson says Slack is already implementing some machine learning and AI to help prioritise channels and conversations within the platform.
“We’re early days in that at Slack itself around improving search by looking at the people you talk to, the topics you care about to personalise your results based on results you’ve clicked on in the past, or by prioritising the messages you’re likely to read first based on your particular behaviours,” he says.
Henderson believes that AI can help keep an increasingly remote workforce aligned to an organisation’s timelines, goals, and priorities while returning some of the oversight that is lost when staff aren’t physically in the building.
It is now more clear than ever that the workplace is changing drastically. It is a combination of tools that are more available now, and the need to do things differently due to the way our personal lives have evolved, that we are seeing this monumental shift in the way people work. In terms of providing the technology that would drive this shift, this is where we see the real value. Most of our current and future investments will be in this sector as we strive to build an ecosystem of technology leading the movement of the new workplace to ultimately enable companies to work better.
Learn more about what ydox can do for the productivity of your team – www.ydox.net