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Gartner survey shows 44% rise in workers’ use of collaboration tools since 2019

As the onset of a hybrid workforce becomes a reality for more firms, research shows massive spike in virtual meeting and collaboration tools since 2019, and stresses that digital workplace technologies will be essential for enabling innovation in the new normal

That collaboration tools found renewed importance during Covid-19 for their role in ensuring the productivity of suddenly remote teams is not exactly news, but research from Gartner has highlighted exactly how important they have been seen by firms as how to keep operations running after they had to pivot to remote working almost overnight.

The Gartner 2021 digital worker experience survey was conducted from November through December 2020 among 10,080 full-time employees at organisations with 100 or more employees in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific. It was also conducted online from March through April 2019, among 7,261 respondents in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

The top-line finding was that the use of meeting solutions surged during the pandemic. Nearly 80% of workers are using collaboration tools for work in 2021, up from just over half of workers in 2019, and – perhaps more significantly – an increase of 44% since the pandemic began.

Storage/sharing and real-time mobile messaging tools also saw increased use during the pandemic, used by 74% and 80% of 2021 respondents, respectively.

While workers globally reported that they spent, on average, 63% of their meeting time in-person in 2019, that number dropped to 33% by 2021 as more meetings took place over audio and video-enabled meeting solutions.

The shift away from in-person meetings is expected to continue. Gartner predicts that by 2024, in-person meetings will drop from 60% of enterprise meetings to 25%, driven by remote work and changing workforce demographics.

“As many organisations shift to a long-term hybrid workforce model, cloud-based, personal and team productivity technologies, along with collaboration tools, will form the core of a series of new work hubs that meet the requirements of various remote and hybrid workers,” said Christopher Trueman, principal research analyst at Gartner.

“As IT leaders prepare for a mix of meeting modalities, it will be critical that they ensure equitable collaboration, tool and resource access for all meeting participants, regardless of location.

“Cloud-based meeting solutions and content service platforms can support this through offerings or integrations with technologies including virtual whiteboards, rich chat features, and recording and transcription capabilities.”

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