Fluid Collaboration: linking brilliant brains across time, place and space
How will collaboration change over the next five years? And what should companies do about it? A new Avocor report co-produced with WORKTECH Academy introduces a new concept to address these issues
Collaboration is a key ingredient for business success: the survival of an organisation of any size or type depends on how effectively they operate as collaborative ecosystems. But how is the nature of collaboration changing? And what should companies be doing to take advantage of developments in technology and connectivity that enable people to transcend time, place and space in working together to develop collective solutions?
How can companies become collaborative ecosystems?
These are the questions that the Fluid Collaboration: Exploring the Future of Collaborative Work report – prepared by meeting and learning technology company Avocor in partnership with WORKTECH Academy – seeks to answer.
The report looks at the future of collaboration over the next five years, identifying key shifts in practice and critical success factors. It begins with a review of the importance of collaboration within the global knowledge economy, noting the ‘communal, multi-layered endeavour’ and the ‘adjacent possible’ that creates innovation, as management thinker Steven Johnson has described the process.
Key drivers and shifts
It sets outs three key drivers that are shaping a new paradigm in collaborative work: changing demographics, which require communication strategies to be re-evaluated for each generation, with particular emphasis on millennials and the digital natives who will form the main employee base in the future; the rise of sustainable cities to reduce the environmental impact of doing business, which are pushing more remote working solutions; and corporate space redesign, which is opening up the possibilities for dedicated, high-and low-intensity collaborative spaces within the context of agile and activity-based working.
Five major shifts are identified in the report, as collaboration moves from intra- to inter-company, from momentous to continuous, from generic to dedicated spaces, from co-located and ad hoc to remote and planned, and from single-source and asynchronous to multiple-source and synchronous.
The Fluid concept
To address these dramatic shifts and enable organisations to benefit from the innovative ideas that flow from better collaborative processes, the report proposes a concept termed Fluid Collaboration as a coherent response.
Fluid Collaboration has four main elements:
- Fluid Space, which explores new environments for complexity, modelling and immersion
- Fluid Tech, which increases the interoperability of communications and collaboration platforms, allowing them to be accessed and used on any device, over any network and from any location
- Fluid Culture, which supports a move away from paper to digital flow and introduces a new digital code of etiquette
- Fluid Intelligence, in which feedback data from unified collaboration platforms will give better insight into how the organisation really works.
The report concludes with two Avocor case studies that demonstrates facets of the Fluid Collaboration approach, and a look at the future in which physical and virtual collaboration spaces begin to merge. It also quotes a Harvard Business Review survey of US executives in more than 300 mid to large-sized enterprises which said a new class of collaboration tools is required to keep up with today’s digital teams.