The Future of Collaboration

Have you gone into the office lately? Walked through the hallways and cubicles to find them only partly filled? Where’s all the hustle and bustle, you wonder? Where is everybody? Have no fear – they are still working – and working hard. Go to any coffee shop and you’ll find them, headphones in, fingers flying fast and furious on their keyboard, responding to email, even making conference calls (apologizing for the background noise, of course. “Yes, that is a coffee grinder you hear”).

For some of us, this “workshifting,” as workplace transformation evangelist Robyn Bews calls it, is a dream – the flexibility to work anywhere. Work operates outside borders, boundaries, and time zones. The workspace is wherever we work, and whenever.

Workplace Evolution

“To keep pace with these new ways of working, the planning and utilization of physical office space must evolve,” says Director of Product Strategy Ryan Anderson at Herman Miller in Wired. A study from Herman Miller found that private offices were used only 25 percent of the time and cubicles were occupied just 40 percent.

As more and more people workshift, less and less office space is needed. Instead, employees look to “huddle rooms,” touchdown spaces, and social spots where they can work or meet with others face-to-face. The traditional office and workspace as we knew it is rapidly disappearing. Replacing the florescent lights and gray fabric cubes are spaces awash in visual interest, natural lighting, and comfort.

Vital Connections

With coworkers, vendors, partners spread across cities and countries, connection with them is more important than ever. No longer just across the cube or down the hall, we can’t shout out a question or burst into the room looking for advice. Still, we need information, ideas, recommendations and reports. Yesterday.

Enter the mobile device. It has single-handedly evolved the workplace. The future of collaboration requires it. It’s indispensable. With it, we access documents, photos, videos, reports, emails and more. It’s our storehouse for vital contact lists. It reminds of us our meetings, activities and events. And it connects us to our work and to each other – from huddle rooms to coffee shops to home offices.

Don’t Miss a Beat

Imagine sitting at a coffee shop, alight with sunbeams, the sounds of light chatter all around you, the smell of freshly ground coffee in the air, and you’re connected to a meeting three time zones away. Watching in real time as the presentation comes alive with arrows, circled information, highlights. And you’re a part of it, using your laptop or tablet or mobile phone to add a note – a note that your coworkers across the country can see, react to, and respond to right then and there. That’s collaboration in action.

The office is wherever we want it to be and all it takes to collaborate is connection to technology that is simple to use. We just have walk up or plug it in, and it’s ready to go. So workers holed up in coffee shops rejoice. And workers enjoying their increasing office and cubicle footprints enjoy. The future is now and we are united in our work, no matter where we are.


Drop by booth #423 to see the future of collaboration in action at IFMA’s World Workplace Conference & Expo in Denver, October 7th through 9th.

Kristel Gibson
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About Kristel Gibson

Kristel Gibson is the social media content manager. She’s been studying and responding to the social trends of the “intertubes” for the last eight years. She lives in Seattle with her family.