Globalization is changing how we work, and knowledge workers in particular need to be prepared. People in post-industrial economies and economies lacking in raw materials owe their prosperity to their high education standards, which are necessary for developing and producing complex products. This is exactly where Internet-based communication technologies can offer new and efficient ways to collaborate. Noticeable trends are the acceleration of work processes, globally dispersed teams and increased outsourcing of knowledge-intensive work.
This increasing globalization represents both opportunities and significant risks. Companies can draw from a larger, international pool of suitable candidates, but they face the challenge of retaining highly qualified employees for long term. Additionally, these companies face stiff competition from other employers for the most talented staff. Universities prepare their students for the global labor market and set international standards with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This, coupled with a stronger focus on foreign languages, puts the world at the feet of the educated elite.
Employers must think about the workplace of the future and start preparing today.
In this white paper, we expose the most common myths about “the workplace of the future.” We offer some recommendations which you can implement in your company right away—on your own or with the help of a consultant.
We do not seek to highlight all aspects of the workplace of the future; instead we focus on the following question: With the communication solutions available today, how can we communicate more easily and efficiently with colleagues, leaders and external business partners?
As a rule, we look at communication independently of location and time. And only companies that are able to communicate effectively will be able to be remain sustainably competitive in a global market and position themselves as attractive employers.
The most common myths about the workplace of the future
Myth 1: Email is dead
For too many of us, the workday is a chore. We’re constantly interrupted while we’re trying to concentrate, which affects our productivity. And email, studies suggest, is one of the biggest interruptions. This has led some companies to drastically cut back on emails. For example, Atos, a French IT services company, has launched a zero email initiative to eliminate internal email use across the organization.
Young people already tend to use email less, preferring instead to use mobile Facebook applications or messaging services like WhatsApp. But do these indicators apply to the future work environment? Yes and no. “Yes” because the trend for collaboration is moving toward the virtual workspace in which project members can meet and communicate anywhere, at any time. Citrix Podio, a flexible social collaboration platform, is one such tool. And “no,” email will not be rendered obsolete, as it will remain central to collaboration with customers, suppliers and business partners.
Social collaboration platforms such as Podio can be considered kind of a “Facebook for companies” and are used by a diverse range of corporate departments to manage their work, store documents and hold business discussions. Project teams can plan entire projects, record progress and results, assign each other tasks and discuss outstanding issues. All participants communicate via one central platform without writing a single email.
Experts discuss how communication is shifting from email to social media. Current research by McKinsey & Company has revealed that in the USA, email usage has decreased by 20 % from 2008 to 2012.
Myth 2: One communication method fits all
Using email communication and social collaboration platforms properly will allow you to communicate more efficiently and more effectively. However, these methods will probably not meet all your communication needs. To chart a sustainable communication future today, companies and employees need to collaborate using additional communication tools.
Online meeting solutions and video conferencing have been proven to be effective communication tools. Services such as Citrix GoToMeeting complement in-person meetings, reducing travel times and costs significantly. First, though, your company must integrate a robust online-meeting culture.
Doing this means creating a culture of collaboration based on respect, trust and consideration. It is up to managers to create this culture. Tools for better collaboration – such as online meetings or webinars—help to establish a collaborative culture, as they enable employees, customers and business partners to work together across distances in real time. They can communicate face to face with each other as if everyone were in the same room.
It is important to select tools that are as easy to use as a phone. Think about your phone: you just pick it up, dial a number and talk. If there were various complex functions and settings, you and your business wouldn’t make calls unless they were absolutely necessary. The same principle applies to web-based communication tools.
If you have to first read through a manual before holding an online meeting or a video conference, you have already chosen the wrong solution. Never assume that your colleagues or meeting partners will read the manual before the meeting.
If you want to address multiple people who work at several different locations, webinars are an ideal solution. The word “webinar” is a combination of “web” and “seminar,” and they have many uses. HR departments use them for nationwide company meetings or training sessions, sales and marketing departments use them for customer product training and presentations, and marketers find them helpful for lead generation.
There is no solution that fits all purposes. Ideally there should be several applications that are bundled together. For example, online meetings can start from a social collaboration platform. The advantage: all the participants can communicate with one another both synchronously and asynchronously. This way, participants collaborate through video conferencing and screen sharing, have access to all relevant files and can document tasks and progress.
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