New Technology Breeds New Collaboration

David K DonovanThere have always been the naysayers. Since the first societal shifts towards digital emerged into our collective consciousness, many have voiced their concerns over purported disconnection, joblessness and depletion of skills that accompany this automated new world. While some cling to the notion that we lose something by following this move towards all things digital, others embrace this movement towards automation and new technology as a natural progression. Regardless of one’s opinion on the value added (or removed) by digital processes, all industries are incorporating automation due to the explosion of growth within the tech sector. Although it may seem like we are undergoing a period of human extraction, one can’t ignore the ways in which these technologies actually bring us closer together and allow a greater reach for who and how we communicate with each other. How we communicate and in turn collaborate with each other has changed significantly over the past 50 years, owing to great advances in technology. While the value of these changes may remain hotly debated among some, the fact remains that technologies exist now that allow people to communicate and collaborate – at scale, regardless of location. When considering all of these new ways of communicating in the context of a company, however, one quickly notices the need for intention behind how companies function as collaborators both internally and externally. From a technical standpoint, companies need to evaluate how to support the needs of the employees. To facilitate collaboration among employees, management needs to figure out what kind of infrastructure best supports this. Spending time and money investing in the proper network capabilities and appropriate software and hardware is critical. Additionally the size of the company and the growth rate are also important factors when considering both internal and external communication. Today’s workforce includes non-traditional workers such as temps, free-lancers, people who work from home, and millenials – who are accustomed to communicating digitally. This means that the “work space” can really mean anything, from a coffee shop to a home office to a traditional work space. However, even the look of the traditional “work-space” is evolving. Especially when looking at startups and newer companies, open work spaces free of cubicles or closed off offices are becoming the norm. Knowing that the look of the traditional workspace is in flux, it’s up to company heads to consider how to best support collaboration through truly planning out the physical and digital landscapes of the “work space”. Collaboration will always be an important part of the work environment, and we are living in an exciting time of transition that allows companies the chance to experiment with supporting collaboration through well-considered digital and physical work-spaces.