As companies transition from working fully remotely to a hybrid environment, a study from online visual communications platform Canva has revealed that the vast majority of the workforce currently think collaboration between remote and in-office colleagues is a challenge (78%) and that they need new and improved technologies for effective virtual collaboration (84%).
Canva’s study took the views of 1,000 full-time US employees in order to shed light on the shifts that have taken place in workplaces and what they could mean long-term as the country emerges from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as companies try to find a balance between remote and in-person work.
Canva said the new dynamics offer “incredible” opportunities for employees, allowing them to choose a work environment that best meets their individual needs. It added that for the first time, fully in-person workplaces will be the exception rather than the rule, marking the most seismic shift to office culture in decades. Businesses in the US have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine work, as hybrid environments define the modern workplace, it said.
The challenge of hybrid workplaces was facilitating effective communication between remote and office-based employees without people struggling to manage an ever-growing list of new messages and notifications, said Canva. This required software that brings creation and collaboration together in one place, it added.
According to the study, 21% of employees will continue working fully remotely following the pandemic, and 38% expect a mix of remote and in-office work. Yet despite the pandemic seeing most workplaces successfully migrate communications online, via video calls, email, instant messaging and a host of other channels and tools, more than three-quarters of employees feel work collaboration during the pandemic has been more challenging than before. Almost half (45%) said they struggled when using presentation software, which across a whole company translates into a significant decrease in productivity.
The good news was that the survey showed 54% of employees think it has been easier to brainstorm, participate and collaborate on ideas and tasks when working remotely, which means technology can actually help people to communicate and contribute more easily. The key is making sure these benefits are maintained as more people return to work and in-person activity grows.
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Alongside communication tools, 85% of respondents agreed that to make remote work a success, they needed software that fosters creativity and engages the audience. Many are turning to presentations as the preferred form of communication, with the data showing an increase of up to 10% in the next six months alone.
But in a working environment where visual communication and interactivity are everywhere online, workplaces must go beyond dull and uninspiring slides to keep people’s attention. Canva’s research showed that 89% admit to frequently multitasking or becoming distracted when other people are presenting. Some of the top distractions include reading emails and messages (42%), completing work (28%), scrolling through social media (28%) and even online shopping (25%).
Software as a solution was a pressing need, but Canva chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki warned that typical legacy software and tools were not designed to meet the demand of the hybrid workforce that is emerging after the pandemic.
“Online collaboration is at the core of almost all work and employees need tools that promote creativity, make collaboration easy and bring people together,” he said. “Much of the software used today was designed primarily for physical workplaces, with the core user interface showing little modernisation in decades.
“Now that hybrid work is here to stay, workplace applications should embrace the online world, and the ability to build dynamic, shareable content.”