The Connected Workplace: Ringing the Changes of a New Era in Collaborative Working

We can see the impact of digital connectivity all around us, from interpersonal relationships to politics to consumer purchasing patterns. The corporate workplace, however, has been arguably much slower to jump onto the ‘all things social connectivity’ bandwagon. But that is changing as the evolving nature of work, changing workplace demographics, and new workplace communication habits, reshape organizations.

So, what’s behind the rise of the connected workplace? And what does it look like?

What’s Driving the Connected Workplace?

The rise of the connected workplace been fueled by a few factors. We have seen employee expectations formed outside the workplace increasingly shape their expectations inside the workplace. For example, today’s employees expect a responsive and engaging workplace digital experience that mimics their day-to-day digital experiences outside of work.[1]

We have also seen an increasing drive for agile, digital organizations that are able to adapt to the pace of disruption. The nature of work structures and teams is also changing. We are seeing increasingly dispersed workplaces, with transient teams assembled as needed for projects and disassembled as projects come to a close. Such teams must work harder to find the most effective and efficient ways to work together. The workforce is also more mobile, due to the growing gig economy, more frequent job changes, and rapidly changing skills requirements.

All of this demands a strong focus on collaboration and teamwork – on working together irrespective of space, structure, and location – to perform successfully. It also demands that organizations leverage the power of their collective knowledge and engage in knowledge sharing to continually refine and develop workers’ knowledge and skills.

As a result, we see an increasing focus on workplace collaboration, and the rumblings of not just a connected but a ‘hyper-connected’ workplace.

Technology also plays a role. After almost two decades of business communication dominated by email, we are now seeing the emergence of a range of tools for workplace connectivity that promise more effective ways for people to communicate and share with each other. These tools threaten to displace email as the kingpin of corporate communication.

New tools and collaboration platforms like Facebook’s Workplace, Slack, Asana, Jive, and Microsoft Teams are increasingly popular in the corporate world. Slack,[2] for instance, has millions of users around the world. Since its launch in 2016, Facebook’s ‘Workplace’ has been adopted by over 30,000 organizations, including companies like Starbucks and Walmart, and non-profits like Oxfam.[3] It seems that the connected workplace is where it’s at. Or at least where it’s all headed.

Collaboration and Learning

The good news is that collaborative work environments are positive for workplace and performance effectiveness.

Collaborative and peer learning contribute positively to learner outcomes, engagement, and confidence.[4] This new age of collaborative tools offers a powerful opportunity to use these methods to improve the impact of learning. In addition, collaborative approaches, particularly those using digital collaboration tools, are more likely to engage the growing number of millennials in the workplace.

Look Inside

Take a look at your organization. Are you facilitating collaboration? Do you foster a collaborative approach from the start of the employee journey by, for instance, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing in your onboarding programs? Do you provide tools for information sharing and collaboration across teams?

If your organization is already using collaborative workplace tools, examine how your approach to employee development and learning can harness these tools. If your organization hasn’t yet fully signed up to a collaborative mindset, now is the time to think about how it could benefit from the power of digital collaboration to empower a connected workplace that promotes knowledge sharing and effective teamwork.

In a later blog, we’ll examine some of the success factors for a connected workplace, and how to make the most of connected workplace tools to maximize employee knowledge sharing, learning and performance, and, ultimately, organizational success.

[1] Deloitte 2018 Trends: The Rise of the Social Enterprise