With Coronavirus Spreading, the Collaboration Market Grows Fast
by Ken Dulaney
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has many IT directors reallocating their budgets to purchase more collaboration seats, which has created a huge boom in business for collaboration providers. Witness, for example, the rise in Zoom stock despite the huge selloffs of other stocks.
This blog will explore the changes effecting the workplace due to the coronavirus outbreak, and how these changes may impact the way we work long after the pandemic is over.
Long-term Effects on Collaboration in the Digital Workplace
Organizations are learning lessons now that they will carry with them into the future. The closing of traditional offices and the rise in remote work is one trend that may go on even after the pandemic is over. Many of the changes businesses have made in reaction to the crisis will persist into the future; reduced travel and an increase in the number of permanent at-home workers are both likely outcomes.
Collaborative products that support pre-planned team meetings are working well to mitigate the effects of not being able to meet in person, as do products that support smaller group instant meetings. Video meetings are helping to make workers feel more connected to colleagues and managers, since face-to-face time has drastically decreased.
That said, there are many challenges in running a collaborative environment outside the office. Managers must learn to manage employees by giving objectives and measuring outcomes rather than by merely observing them. And the pandemic presents challenges not normally found in remote work; managers must realize that during the current timeframe, workers may split the workday across the 24-hour spectrum because they may have home duties (e.g. childcare) that interfere with continuous work.
The Promise of Drop-In Collaboration
What’s missing from remote work is the ability to walk up and talk to one’s colleagues. We have spoken to several collaboration vendors and they recognize the value of an offering that enables users to connect instantly without setting up a meeting. Consumer side applications like FaceTime have already demonstrated the value and widespread adoption of quick meeting solutions. In Apple’s messaging service, users can easily drop in to join ongoing FaceTime calls.
A client recently gave us an idea that partially meets this requirement for managers. In their example, the manager has a separate computer screen continually logged into a collaboration session in a meeting that includes all their employees. An employee can now “walk up” to the manager’s office in the same way they would if they were together in the same office. This might also lead to a more extensive solution where each employee is given a small (or large) second screen that is constantly connected to the manager. This solution could eventually become the desk phone replacement as video becomes the new voice, a trend many collaboration vendors are emphasizing.
With limited coronavirus diagnosis and even more limited coronavirus treatment, it may be some time before things go back to normal in the office. For managers, it’s important to find the right technologies and the right strategies to facilitate effective collaboration in the workplace. As enterprises adapt to the challenges of working remotely we expect to see the market for team collaboration technology grow, too.