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Tighter teams by 2020

25 August 2011

Global research from Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) has revealed there is a gap between the amount of teamwork that today’s workplace can support and the amount that office workers anticipate using in 2020.

The study, which reports results from 1700 respondents in seven countries, shows that office workers expect to spend more time working in team spaces that incorporate collaborative technologies, such as interactive digital screens, touch surfaces and live video streaming from locations around the world. This shift to working in virtual teams using a range of technologies is coupled with a decrease in the amount of time that office workers expect to spend at their desks, on the phone, or in traditional meeting rooms.

Johnson Controls GWS’ Director of Global WorkPlace Innovation, Dr. Marie Puybaraud, said: “We know that collaboration between white-collar office workers is a principal driver of creativity, innovation and therefore business advantage. It allows teams to become more than the sum of their parts. Although some collaborative technologies are used today, the research indicates that there is a gap between the amount of collaboration supported by today’s workplace and the amount that workers expect to be using in just under a decade’s time. Failure to invest in collaborative technologies and updated workspaces will hamper productivity. This has an impact on people designing new workspaces or retrofitting existing ones today.”

The type of workspaces seen in the office is also likely to change. The frequent use of team spaces that incorporate collaborative technologies will increase from a fifth of people who currently report high usage to 52 percent in 2020. However, people expect to be using traditional meeting rooms far less – 40 percent said they currently use them regularly, compared to 27 percent who expect to be regularly using them in 2020. The use of the desk phone is also set to decrease from the half of people who use them frequently today to just a third. “The research also reveals that one-size-fits-all workplace environments are less effective than those that are built for purpose. No two organisations are the same, so each one will need to customise its space to support its business model and culture. This drive towards mass collaboration will change the way companies think about the real estate they occupy. A higher proportion of company floor-space will be designed specifically to support collaboration, which means understanding the interplay between people, the real estate portfolio, technologies and working practices,” added Dr. Puybaraud.

The use of video communication and real-time technologies is also set to increase substantially. White-collar workers expect to be using web conferencing, instant messaging and video conferencing far more by 2020. The number of people regularly using web conferencing is expected to triple from 19 percent currently to 57 percent. Office workers also expect to be using collaborative technologies that are still only at the developmental stage. For example, just under half (44 percent) expect to be using three-dimensional video conferencing in 2020, which would allow users to perceive depth on screen for a more realistic image.

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