The world is changing, while work and the modern workplace are not far behind. Businesses across the spectrum are becoming more accepting of the culture of remote work. A few years ago, IBM asked staff to head back to cubicles, yet Twitter – in the wake of the global corona-virus crisis – gave workers the option of working from home, forever.
These examples may suggest that only tech companies can afford to maintain a remote workforce. But, which modern company isn’t a tech company? Businesses are increasingly adopting digital solutions to automate tedious manual processes. Besides the massive costs for maintaining brick-and-mortar offices, there are significant improvements in productivity as a result of reduced interpersonal conflicts arising from physical interaction.
The trend of working remote is not anywhere near its peak. The internet is rapidly altering the structure of work, while companies are doing their best to ride the tide. Even with challenges in hiring and organizing a remote team, there are collaborative tools that make communication seamless, and enable greater flexibility in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance for the entire team.
Effective communication is at the heart of remote collaboration. Much of this collaboration is via software-as-a-service tools accessible over the internet. One significant characteristic of these tools is that they continue to evolve. It then becomes crucial to understand the role these tools hold in the future and how teams can prepare for that. Gallup and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that 22% of Americans work from home, and nearly 50% engage in remote or virtual team work.
It’s clear that we need a new range of tools, behaviors, and skills. Transitioning to remote worker management is easier with technological advancements and the trust that your employees will be productive wherever they may be. Communication and collaboration tools improve team connectivity and productivity.
Collaboration and the New Tools of Work
There’s been an upsurge in the development and adoption of cloud technologies. The biggest tech giants are making even bigger bets on cloud year-on-year. Over the last decade, Gsuite™, Office365™, Slack, and most recently Zoom and Teams have significantly altered the regime of collaborative work; forever perhaps.
People from diverse geographical locations can now track changes to a shared file in real time. The collaboration goes even further – teams can collaborate simultaneously instead of sending increasingly larger versions of a project back and forth.
Group settings now demand even greater productivity and improved efficiency. Agile and scrum-based workflows as used in software development are now key components of remote collaboration.
The tech collaboration we describe here is only just unfolding, since remote work itself is becoming more mainstream and critical. The potential for business to connect with talent halfway across the world is more real than ever. Perhaps less obvious is how IT teams will shape the collaborative SaaS environments that will enable working together from various locations.
How Current Collaborative SaaS Tools are Evolving
Two critical components of remote work are time management and project tracking. Apps like Asana, Basecamp, Dyspatch, Harvest, Monday, and Trello make it easier for teams to manage collaborative processes from conceptualization to delivery.
One recent trend is for these types of solutions to deviate from endless comment threads and passive communication. The goal is to create a single, central location where a project lives and people and people can access it to make changes and contributions.
These project management tools are increasingly integrating with other digital workspaces. Modern version control for projects is even easier in a group setting, without the need to sync multiple platforms manually.
These tools are growing and changing, possibly making them better at tracking progress without external help and requiring far less user interaction for status updates and reporting. And yes, the collaborative tools of the future will employ AI and machine learning to pinpoint gaps in efficiency and suggest improvements to process and workflow on the fly.
Emerging AR/VR Collaborative Environments
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are only now making inroads into the office of the future. Yet, an evolving workplace will likely demand better remote collaboration tools that will accelerate development and adoption of AR and VR.
It’s true that video conferencing serves its present purpose, but the crucial elements of human interaction and non-verbal communication one can experience and respond to in a physical room are clearly absent. Advancements in AR and VR are capable of lending the authenticity element to virtual gathering. So, coworkers can feel a full sense of camaraderie present in a shared space with teammates, instead of mere virtual avatars or portraits of headshots.
AR/VR tools will provide remote workers with help for visualizing concepts and communicating them with one another. More whiteboard sessions will happen remotely in the future we envisage.
Currently, tools exist for displaying, exploring, and examining CAD drawings in a 3D virtual environment. Such a framework could come handy for education, training, and use with other kinds of models. Better data analytic outcomes could also enable AR to offer more ways to visualize data in ways that are more relevant for human use.
Modern SaaS-Based Infrastructure for Remote Collaboration
The emerging wave of remote collaborative SaaS tools will depend on investment in infrastructure, including 5G connectivity and widely-available access to modern high-speed Internet. As high-speed internet becomes more available, businesses will leverage a more diverse talent pool. They’ll also rely more on the technological advances we’ve described in this article.
Benefits of Optimized Collaborative SaaS Tools
We expect the future of collaboration to include modern versions of familiar business processes. The universal web is the backbone of modern collaborative SaaS tools. Therefore, we anticipate rapid economic growth in places currently without adequate service.
Improvements in productivity would improve remote worker leverage for flexible work-life balance. Businesses too, will improve at identifying, prioritizing, and forging the most viable ideas, regardless of the source. A great example of what a modern day tool looks like that has collaboration features baked right in is Dyspatch, an email building and management tool. Dyspatch helps consolidate your company’s remote work, asynchronous collaboration, and overall competitiveness in the modern business climate.
With optimized remote collaboration, organizations will become more resilient when a disaster occurs, as team members have safe distribution across the world. While we wait for a workplace future running on the backbone of collaborative SaaS tools, we don’t have to keep riding the wave of a virtual marker on a cloud whiteboard.