The Shifting Face of Collaboration
Moving Beyond Meeting Rooms and into the Collaborative Ecosystem
Collaborative technologies have been at the forefront of the technological shift during this time, enabling people to remain connected and workforces to remain productive while physically distanced. Businesses who were already armed with unified collaborative technologies for their offices have pushed their usage beyond the office walls, further than what was ever anticipated.
Returning to work is currently at the top of most organization’s agendas. Set against the debate around the ‘new normal’, there remains many questions around what the near future holds for businesses and operations, as well as life in general across the globe.
It is still too early to say what a new normal is going to look like, exactly. What we do know is that we aren’t going to simply go back to how things were. At the same time, not everything can or will change completely. The new normal it seems is not really, ‘new’. It’s more a balancing act between what was normal to us pre-COVID-19, and what became normal to us in the last two months under stay at home regulations. A ‘hybrid of normal’.
Previously uninitiated collaborative technologies adoptees have quickly recognized the vital role this technology plays in the day-to-day. Cisco’s Webex saw an exponential increase in meeting minutes over the pandemic’s crisis months, growing from 6 billion minutes in February, to 14 billion meeting minutes in March and almost 25 billion meeting minutes in April. In March, Webex had more than 300 million users, 10 million of which were new team collaboration users. That level of usage demonstrates the extent collaborative technologies have become embedded into our everyday. The question is, will this behavior remain as governments allow businesses to reopen and we return to the workplace?
Organizations are preparing to welcome back workforces under the regulations of health and safety with social distancing remaining a priority. This means initiatives such as distributed offices, a staggered workforce of smaller groups working in the office on rotation and encouraging telework wherever possible. A Gartner survey1 from March 2020 revealed that almost three out of four CFOs will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19. The reality is, we are looking at an evolved remote workforce–more mobile than the work-from-home workforce.
Where does collaboration fit into this ‘hybrid of normal’? What is to happen to collaborative, unified systems already deployed on premise? It’s time to think beyond the platform and look deeper at its value in a wider collaboration ecosystem. A collaboration ecosystem reinforces an organization’s unified needs across calling, meeting, team collaboration, contact centers and more, bridging between on-premise technology and mobility with the cloud.
Cisco’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was to ‘enable people to securely work from anywhere (including home), anytime, and on any device so they stay connected with their teams and can continue their business operations.’ The company’s collaboration strategy is underpinned by the value of interoperability, simplifying the bridges between the collaboration ecosystem’s various branches and answering the needs of any associate, working from anywhere at any time – whether inside the office walls, remotely from the home office or anywhere in between. A collaboration ecosystem transcends these physical divides and meets the demands of the ‘hybrid of normal’ that dawns on the horizon.
1 Gartner CFO Survey – Gartner April 2020