Businesses across the globe are increasingly moving towards a more virtual workplace. With the number of worldwide mobile workers forecast to reach 1.3 billion by 2015, businesses have to adapt their technology offerings to meet the needs of the new virtual worker.
Two technology trends have impacted the creation of the virtual workplace more than any other: social technologies, such as social media and social business platforms, and mobile technologies, such as smartphones and tablets. Social has begun infiltrating the enterprise as a result of the behavioral shift brought on by consumer adoption of social networking. As tools like Facebook and Twitter have become almost ubiquitous, so too has a culture of virtual sharing and collaboration emerged that is finding its way to the workplace. And as far as mobility, its impact is obvious; between laptops, smartphones and tablets, workers across all roles, industries and regions are carrying multiple devices to get their jobs done on-the-go.
These two trends are the cornerstones of an increasingly flexible, remote workforce, keeping employees connected, engaged and collaborating from anywhere. Let’s take a deeper look at their impact:
Social Keeps Us…
- Social business platforms such as Jive keep workers connected and informed in ways that far exceed email. Coworkers can share and collaborate on documents, leave comments and status updates and work together to complete tasks and projects, all from within the same platform.
- The virtual workplace can’t exist in a vacuum. It requires a significant amount of effort from team members and coworkers to share status updates, document revisions and more to remain efficient. The very nature of social is to encourage sharing, and social media and social business platforms give remote workers an outlet to keep the information flowing and the workflows productive.
- You know that itch you get when you haven’t checked Facebook in a few hours or let your Twitter timeline languish? The need to stay informed (or the fear of missing out) is another behavioral change brought on by the proliferation of social technologies. The drive to stay up-to-speed can be a boon for remote and virtual workers, and social business platforms provide customizable feeds of their own to help workers stay on informed about their teams, projects and deliverables.
Mobile Keeps Us…
- While desktop computers and laptops are still many workers’ tools of choice, as mobile applications and hardware improve, it becomes less of a productivity sacrifice to do business on a smartphone or tablet. In fact, thanks to increasingly intuitive design, mobile business tools are often easier and more effective than their aging desktop counterparts, and mobile design practices are beginning to infiltrate desktop applications.
- The days of being tethered to a desk and beholden to a 9-5 are coming to a close. The age of the Internet has brought with it work that can happen anytime and anywhere, which gives workers unprecedented freedom to design their own days and cultivate their own worklife balance. And the heart of it all is mobility: smartphones let us cut the cords, bringing email, virtual meetings, document collaboration and more into our pockets.
- Meetings are one of the key places where business gets done; decisions are made, problems are tackled and new ideas are brainstormed around conference tables across the globe. However, today’s meetings are no longer stuck in conference rooms; attending meetings while on-the-go is easier than ever with the latest collaboration apps for web, video and audio conferencing. And virtual meetings apps are adopting the intuitive features inherent to touch devices, trading dial-in numbers and passcodes for one-touch conference entry and intelligent notifications to get remote workers into meetings faster.