solutions and
collaboration in the
workplace in 2022
and beyond

Author: Shane Schick

Collaboration solutions have come a long way from the whiteboards and markers businesses once relied upon, but the shift to hybrid working will unleash a new level of transformation among teams.

What may have begun as a pivot to allow more employees to work from home during the pandemic is now quickly becoming an effort to explore flexible working options over the long term. Similarly, organizations that once primarily interacted with partners and suppliers in person are embracing digital channels that allow them to do so more productively and efficiently.

Proof of this change can be seen in data recently published by Gartner®, which shows a 44% increase in the use of collaboration tools in 2021 compared with 2019.1 Globally, the time workers spent meeting in person dropped from 63% to 33%. Within the next two years, Gartner predicts in-person collaboration will fall even further to just 25% of meetings.

What is collaboration?

It's not just that attitudes to remote working are shifting. The way we've traditionally thought of "working together" has also been re-imagined to provide new answers to the question, what is collaboration? The good news is research is demonstrating the ability of co-workers to achieve great results even when they're not co-located. 

According to a recent study from the MIT Sloan School of Management, the collective intelligence of those collaborating remotely remains high. It's also what employees want: According to an Ipsos Reid survey for the World Economic Forum that polled around 12,500 employed people in 29 countries, two-thirds would prefer to work flexibly even once the pandemic has been fully contained.

However, empowering employees to work from anywhere needs to go beyond developing new policies. Research conducted by the Haas School of Business found that company-wide remote work caused employees to spend 25% less time collaborating. It also led to greater use of asynchronous forms of communication, such as email and message platforms versus connecting live.

Collaboration solutions in the workplace

So, what is collaboration going to look like in 2022 and beyond? These are just some of the technologies that could allow organizations to innovate in the way they brainstorm, create content and make decisions:

1. AI-driven user interfaces

Hybrid work models can sometimes create an unintended sense of hierarchy, as a report from Frost & Sullivan suggests. Those in the office might all be in the same boardroom and can easily see each other, while those connecting via video from home get a "bowling alley view."

Frost analysts predict that artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as machine learning will soon allow for responsive user interfaces. For instance, a collaboration solutions platform could intelligently detect who's in a boardroom and use multiple cameras to give each of them their own panelist view on a video call. The result could be a more inclusive and equitable experience for all team members.

2. Deep app integrations

The tools we keep on our smartphones to exchange messages, view and edit documents or communicate on video aren't going away anytime soon. However, they might improve in how they connect with each other.

According to a recent report from IDC, while many collaboration apps have gained traction among consumers, their future functionality may be informed by how they're used among businesses.3  IDC says deep integrations with third-party applications will increase insights, minimize context switching and provide faster time to market/project completion.

3. AR and VR-powered workspaces

Wired magazine recently investigated the future of work in a feature story, noting that technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are already allowing rich interactions between employees and third parties beyond a traditional video conferencing session.

The magazine notes these experiences may not live up to what is sometimes described as the "metaverse," where technology creates highly immersive worlds. Gartner® analysts say the true metaverse is probably at least eight years away, but they recommend that businesses increase their awareness of the possibilities today.2

What is collaboration evolving into in 2022?

Collaboration solutions should motivate and provide value to employees. However, in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, researchers suggest too many tools could overwhelm them.

Their advice? Couple innovative collaboration solutions with strategies that recognize the cognitive cost of switching from one tool to another. Personal rhythms need to be respected, so team members have time for reflection. Posting problems and issues ahead of meetings can also allow collaboration time to be used more effectively.

We're all learning that the way we work will look a lot different in 2022 and beyond. Each business will have its own individual elements that work best for them when asking, what collaboration will look like in the future? But the imperative for all business leaders is to make sure it looks—and feels—better than anything we've experienced before. 

Make the most of what's possible with voice collaboration solutions today.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

Gartner Press release, Gartner Survey Reveals a 44% Rise in Workers' Use of Collaboration Tools Since 2019, Meghan Rimol, August, 2021.

Gartner, 5 Impactful Technologies From the Gartner Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar for 2022, Tuong H. Nguyen, December, 2021.

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

IDC Press Release, Collaboration Applications Joined the Mainstream in 2020 with Worldwide Revenues Forecast to Nearly Double by 2025, According to IDC, August 2021.