July 16, 2020 by Siobhan Climer
The upheaval felt across the world in response to the outbreak of coronavirus highlights the one constant in the world of technology: change.
Technology is always changing and so is the world around it.
For many, the idea of “return to normal” has evaporated. In fact, the narrative has shifted to explore an emerging “new normal”. What that new normal is – and when it will arrive – remains to be seen.
In the meantime, companies are striking a balance between business continuity and innovation. For while numerous challenges have arisen for businesses and individuals alike, many recognize that the disruption initiated by COVID-19 might just provide business opportunity for some.
Remote Work And Collaboration Technology Trends In 2020
One technology that is seeing enormous investment is remote collaboration technology. The correlation is logical – and inevitable. Remote work has been a trend gaining for years.
3.9 million people in the US worked remotely at least half-time in 2018 – that’s up 115% from 2005.
Just imagine what those numbers might be today. The collaboration technology trends for 2020 – and beyond – will certainly be informed by this shift.
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, estimates about 56% of employees have remote-compatible jobs, and that new normal we discussed above will likely see approximately “25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”
Even those who are unable to work remotely will use collaboration tools more and more – as they use virtual doctor’s visits, wear and track data with wearables, and collaborate with teams and individuals across the globe.
Here are the top 5 collaboration technology trends for 2020.
Top 5 Collaboration Technology Trends For 2020
We based these trends on data related to shifting work methodology metrics and qualitative data reported across industries.
Telehealth & Virtual Visits Rebound Perhaps Permanently
The health-related impacts of the pandemic meant doctor’s offices, medical clinics, and hospitals were risky places to attend. Medical offices are still short on supplies and high on infection risk.
For many, appointments that would have in that old normal had patients come in for brief 10-20 minute observations were moved online. While not every ailment is treatable via telehealth, many are – and using collaboration technology to mitigate risk and provide care is a natural transformation.
While elective and preventative visits dropped across the board, the rebound, or what we might begin to define as the “new normal”, indicates a higher percentage of telehealth visits over in-person visits. The proportional shift may remain permanent.
Video Meetings & Virtual Tours Will Linger
One obvious shift is the increase in video collaboration technology trends for 2020: Cisco Webex Meetings, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meetings, and Skype.
The 56% of remote-compatible jobs noted by Global Workplace Analytics are using video meetings and collaboration technology to replace in-person meetings and drop-by desk chats.
And the longer employees work in this manner, the more they will want the flexibility of remote work in the future – regardless of how the workplace evolves. As Lister explains, “the genie is out of the bottle and it’s not likely to go back in.”
In addition, many of the fears that kept employers from offering remote work options – concerns around productivity, honesty, and results – have diminished as employees have demonstrated a commitment to working despite a lack of oversight.
Whiteboarding & Virtual Collaboration Take The Spotlight
Collaboration and teamwork still matter, and the continued work-from-home recommendations means the leading collaboration platforms can shine their collaborative features.
Whiteboarding, for example, has long been an under-utilized feature of Cisco Webex Teams; now, everyone wants to know if it exists, if it works, and how to use it.
(If that’s you, here’s a great how-to article from Cisco on using whiteboarding.)
The ability to ideate together is invaluable.
Whiteboarding features in collaboration technology platforms will likely become more important as virtual meetings take over the workplace.
Cloud & SaaS: Reimagining Work
The remote shift and double-down utilization of cloud computing allows people to work in synchrony – simultaneously. This moves beyond replacement to a complete reimagination of work.
People can work in tandem in a file or share real-time data across the world. This functionality simply isn’t possible without the cloud. The pandemic has simply accelerated this shift.
Wearables & Artificial Intelligence: Is The New Normal The Moment?
This is our most up-in-the-air collaboration technology trend for 2020. Industry analysts have long expected AI and wearables to take off; these have been listed as trends for [insert year] in reports for the last decade.
We’re putting bets on now.
While doubts and distrust have long held back the promise of AI and wearable tech, people have normalized disruption due to the coronavirus spread and its dramatic, lifestyle-changing impacts.
Using smart home devices, sharing data with healthcare providers (and employers) from a smart watch, or finding new efficiencies for work functions – that is precisely the promise of AI and wearables.
Tackling The Trends Means Facing Hard Questions
The challenge for businesses today is to not attempt to do everything at once – or everything at all. How these collaboration technology trends for 2020 impact the unique functions of each workplace and industry will vary, as will the response by employees to these changes.
In one telling shift, both the New York Times and Forbes reported on the use of employee-monitoring platforms that allow employers to see exactly what employees are up-to while working from home.
The collaboration technology trends for 2020, and how these trends will impact adjacent technologies, are sure to spark uncomfortable conversations around privacy, work-life balance, and employee rights.
If the Australian wildfires, global pandemic, or murder hornets weren’t enough to make 2020 interesting, the remaining months of this year and those that follow will certainly give IT leaders and tech analysts much to discuss.
Getting Started With Collaboration Technology
Not sure how to strategically invest in collaboration tech for your business? Our solutions architects can help you construct a roadmap that gets you from where you are today to where you want to be – and fast.
See what we can do for you. Contact us today.
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. With over a decade of experience communicating complex concepts around everything from cybersecurity to neuroscience, Siobhan is an expert at breaking down technical and scientific principles so that everyone takes away valuable insights. When she’s not writing tech, she’s reading and writing fantasy, hiking, and exploring the world with her twin daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.
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