A Look into the Future of Collaboration by Holger Reisinger
We’ve spent plenty of time discussing collaboration in today’s workplace. But how will workers collaborate in the years and decades ahead? Join me as we dust off our crystal ball and peer into the future.
It’s no secret that we as business professionals collaborate today in ways we never dreamed of just five or 10 years ago.
And that got me wondering about how we’ll collaborate in the future.
As I pondered this issue, I realized that we’re already seeing clues to tomorrow’s collaboration in the kids of today. The way they interact, the devices they use and the values they hold dear will strongly influence tomorrow’s companies and collaborative environment.
So, armed with an active imagination, a decent understanding of some and a pair of tech-savvy sons of my own, I’ll venture a few guesses about collaboration in the workplace in the years ahead.
Four Trends Shaping the Workplace of Tomorrow
Tomorrow’s organisations will be transformed by several trends that are already changing today’s:
The “consumerisation” of IT. No longer beholden to corporate IT departments, employees are free to use their favourite devices at work, providing added flexibility in how they perform their jobs.
Decline of location. The combination of ubiquitous Internet access, secure Wi-Fi and robust videoconferencing makes constant physical presence in the workplace unnecessary, freeing employees to work from anywhere.
Globalisation of talent. No longer bound by physical location, organizations can cast a truly global net for outstanding employees. Similarly, workers enjoy infinitely more choices in prospective employers.
A growing freelance economy. Workers increasingly abandon the classic employer/employee relationship in favour of working when they want and for whom they want. Recent research suggests that 40% of the so-called Millennial generation will work as freelancers before 2020.
At Home in the Freelance Economy
As I peer into my crystal ball I see my youngest son, who tends to be the adventurous type, finding his niche in the burgeoning freelance economy. He will jump in and out of specialized projects as he sees fit. With a love of travel, he’ll work for one company from a beach in Hawaii one month, another company from a chateau in Switzerland a few months later and yet another from the Great Wall of China early the following year. (I’m not sure how he’ll afford it, but that’s another matter!)
Knowledge will be the currency of the future, and sharing it quickly and effectively will be vital to company success. So workers will collaborate using only an almost-inconspicuous wearable device that enables them to easily connect seamlessly with clients, co-workers, business partners and others, effectively eliminating today’s jumble of emails, IMs, texts and phone calls.
They’ll scarcely remember what computer desktops, tablets or smartphones even were. The future equivalent of documents, spreadsheets and presentations will be projected into their eyeglasses or as a hologram they can see, manipulate and collaborate on—sort of tomorrow’s version of today’s heads-up displays.
Fast-Moving Corporate Positions
Of course, companies of the future will still need employees, and not everyone will embrace the freelance economy. My oldest son, who’s a bit more reserved, may opt for the (relative) security of a corporate position. But even that job will look far different than what we see today.
In an era of increased globalization and even faster speed to market, individuals—not groups—will be the epicentre of value creation. My oldest won’t work within a rigid department; rather, he and a loose collection of other knowledge workers will bid for projects of interest, perform their duties and then move on to new challenges. In effect, he’ll operate as a freelance employee within his own company, likely using the same types of collaboration technologies his younger brother uses.
His activities will be overseen not by a manager in today’s sense, but rather a “community manager,” who will ensure that each project is staffed with a winning team, that projects are completed quickly and successfully and the company’s image is kept fresh.
And I’m pretty sure my son won’t work from within a vast cube farm from 8 to 5. Accelerating a trend we’re experiencing today, he’ll perform his job from wherever he wants: the car, the cafeteria, a park bench overlooking the pond out back—even from home.
Of course, no one can accurately predict the future, and I haven’t a clue how much of this will come true. I do know that the future will be a place where an ever-increasing need for knowledge and speed will meet the technologies and flexible corporate policies to make business success happen.
I just hope my sons will be happy, enjoy fulfilling careers—and, of course, make some time to visit their father every now and then.
Holger Reisinger – Jabra Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Products and Alliances
With a MSc. in Economics and Information Management, from the University of Applied Sciences and Technologies in Salzburg, Austria and over 20 years of experience from the IT and Telecommunications industry, Holger is a passionate and visionary spokesperson for New Ways of Working.
As an accomplished IT&T executive, with successful industry experience in leadership, sales, global marketing and operations, Holger Reisinger has over the last ten years been involved in Business Development for VoIP and before his current position he was heading-up sales in EMEA Central spanning; Russia, Eastern Europe, MEA & Turkey, Benelux, Austria and Switzerland.
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