Collaboration is critical to the modern workplace, says Microsoft

Digital collaboration on a global basis is a vital aspect of the changing work environment, delegates at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event were told

The work environment is changing and collaboration has become a growing factor for business success, according to Microsoft experts.

Panos Panay, corporate vice-president of devices, told delegates at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event on 31 October that the work landscape is becoming very different, and collaboration on a global basis is a vital aspect of this change. He described it as “the essence of the modern workplace”.

“Your customers and you can collaborate from different spaces,” said Panay. “But probably more importantly, in your global companies, with that mobile workforce, bringing together all of these assets at one time to get all of your ideas in the same place is critical.

“Your workplace is no longer bound to the office. People work everywhere and people work anywhere.”

Panay also highlighted workers’ ability to move seamlessly from one technology to another through their day as another aspect of the emerging workplace. An employee should be able to start a piece of work on their mobile device and instantly pick it up on their computer once they are in the office, he said – a practice he described as “continuously staying in your flow”.

“Once you start moving and the technology disappears because the tools are right, you’re using the right data, you’re using the cloud and everything that’s coming with you,” he added.

Lorraine Bardeen, general manager of Windows and HoloLens at Microsoft, told delegates at the event that “uniquely human” characteristics are now coming to the forefront at work. 

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“What it means to work is changing pretty dramatically and what we are seeing around the definition of work is what it means to be uniquely human,” she said.

“The ability to think, to creatively problem-solve, the ability to collaborate with other people and bring your creativity to a group dynamic and collaborate with people all around the world – this is what it means to work now, these uniquely human capabilities.”

Gartner recently highlighted collaboration tools as one of the main themes of the digital workplace, along with cloud-based office suites and enterprise content management. Research vice-president Monica Basso said at the Gartner Digital Workplace summit in September that the digital environment is “an unavoidable step” in digital transformation for businesses.

In a Gartner survey of business chiefs, 58% said they see business growth as their main priority, and Basso said having a digital workplace initiative gives them a better chance of achieving this.

“The more the workforce evolves, the more achievable business growth becomes,” she said. “This is the digital workplace and it should be a priority. There is a desperate need for a digital workplace initiative to drive business outcomes.”

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