In the next year, we’re going to see fundamental shifts in collaboration. As networks and ecosystems replace organizational hierarchies, the traditional question “who do you work for?” has been replaced by “who do you work with?” Moreover, the continuous diffusion of innovative technologies throughout the working landscape has accelerated and governed this shift. The collaborative nature of project management also means that this has the utmost pertinence to our project teams. In the coming year, here are the 5 collaboration trends to be prepared for.
1. The power of teams will become even more prevalent
When asked in an interview for Entrepreneur Dom Price, the head of R&D at Atlassian, said, “the future of productivity is all about unleashing the potential of your teams.” According to him, “90 percent of organizations claim to be tackling issues so complex they need teams to solve them.” This doesn’t bode well for organizations in which collaboration has not become a priority.
Price further stated that, “Diversity, distribution, time zones, cultural differences and hierarchical reporting lines all make teamwork hard. We all need to unlearn some old ways of working, and embrace diversity, inclusion and better collaboration to drive team productivity in this new era of work.” As teams become more distributed in the modern workforce, whether it’s because of politics or the challenges of internal talent acquisition between cross-functional teams, collaboration is the number one factor that companies need to implement.
An important part of designing for adaptability is a shift away from hierarchical organizational structures toward models where work is accomplished in teams. Indeed, in Deloitte’s 2017 ‘Global Human Capital Trends Survey’ only 14 percent of executives believe that the traditional organizational model—with hierarchical job levels based on expertise in a specific area—makes their organization highly effective. Instead, leading companies are pushing toward a more flexible, team-centric model.
2. Video communication becomes a more feasible medium
Others see the solution to increased collaboration in the form of casual communication techniques. Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith, sees the future in video and screencasting.
“As younger workers progress higher in their careers, they are setting the standard for communication in a workplace and they are leading with a preference for visual communication.”
She believes that “from corporate training to marketing, video will become ingrained in the fabric of how companies operate, both internally and externally.”
“Businesses both small and large are using this technique to demonstrate processes, improve communication efficiency and effectiveness, increase productivity and eliminate unnecessary meetings,” she adds.
3. Informal communication is on the rise
Project management and productivity writer for Gartner and Capterra, Rachel Burger, agrees. “Many workers are already used to collaboration tools like Slack and its alternatives. To them, particularly millennial workers, formal project management software, like Microsoft Project or VersionOne, seem cumbersome and clunky. The millennial workforce simply doesn’t want to work with these tools.”
Like Hamilton and Taylor, she sees informal communication replacing traditional project management tools in the workplace. However, she cautions that “collaboration software can never fully replace project management.” Citing a Gartner report, she states, “Adopting these systems will require strong change management skills from the lead project manager. In the world of productivity, the transition may lead to an initial disorganization until common collaboration tools can create more effective tracking and filtering systems per project.”
4. Teams continue to embrace technology
We can clearly see the truth in this in workspaces every day. While I don’t believe that visual communication will ever replace all other forms of communication, I do see a strong trend towards visual work as a faster way to productivity. It also allows remote teams to feel more like a part of the organization. Think about how VR could revolutionize the way we work — putting distributed teams in the same virtual room for meetings.
For now though, the future of team collaboration will definitely be mobile, facilitated almost entirely by the smartphone in the near future. In 10 years’ time though, I see a future that will include augmented processes and machine learning. Information being sent to you from your environment, whether it’s from Alexa in the corner of your living room or a notification sent to your phone via geo-tracking giving information about a person you’re meeting as you arrive. There is no doubt that collaboration will continue to evolve as new technologies become available. Just look how the iPhone changed communication.
5. Working remotely wasn’t a fad
After IBM’s drastic measure in 2017, recalling all remote workers back into the office, there was a collective raising of eyebrows as the move made no discernable positive impact. The question isn’t whether or not workers should be allowed to work remotely but instead we should we be asking how can we make remote workers as efficient as possible and accommodate collaboration within these dynamics. In 2018 an increasingly remote workforce will demand seamless connectivity infrastructure and savvy project management.
From the power of teams to the emergence of new, even disruptive technology and the prevalence of distributed teams employing new forms of communication. It is clear that ensuring effective collaboration is more important than ever, particularly when managing projects with multiple contributors and stakeholders. Get ahead in 2018 and kick off the year with a focused efficient approach to collaboration in your project teams and wider organisation.