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PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the world's second largest professional services network, released a report on the future of work and its effect on HR departments.

They gathered answers from 10,000 people across China, India, Germany, the UK and the US. Though the report was conducted for and with HR executives, and other executive-level decision makers on talent strategy, some of the trends can equally be applied to the future challenges that collaboration tools will need to meet.

The analysis they conducted is based both on the results of the study and on consultation with experts about how disruptive innovation may impact the world of work, and therefore by extension, the way in which we work.

The three visions of the future of work

Three distinctive visions of the future have emerged from their analysis: the Blue World, the Green World, and the Orange World

The Blue World

The Blue World is a world dominated by huge companies and represents capitalism in the most extreme sense of the word. Driven by profits and results, these companies will use precise metrics to measure performance, location and health. Health monitoring, enabled by wearable technology, will enable the provision of health guidance and treatment in order to reduce sick leave, thereby resulting in a longer work-life span and increased efficiency.

In order to maintain a constant flow of opportunity, Blue World companies will rely on self-funding third-party research centers, innovation firms, universities and startup incubators.

The Green World

The Green World is, in terms of its ideological perspective, the opposite of the Blue World. Instead of being driven by profit and performance, the Green World organizations will develop social conscience of, and social responsibility for, their impact on society.

They will make profits in a responsible way, and spend them on making a positive difference. They will play an important role in supporting and developing their employees and local communities.

Green World companies will reduce their carbon footprint to a minimum, replacing travel with online communication. The emphasis will be on the impact that the workplace has on employee health and wellbeing.

46% of HR professionals expect at least 20% of their workforce to be made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2022.

The Orange World

The Orange World is more fragmented, where smaller is better. The big organizations are broken down into collaboration networks of highly specialized, freelance contractors. Work will become more flexible and workers will work on various projects, and with more than one company at a time.

Workers will be heavily reliant on technology to manage their projects, to collaborate and to build relationships. The key challenges will be to find the right person for each job in a competitive job marketplace, and to coordinate and cooperate at maximum efficiency.

Now that we have a better idea of what the future of work might look like, one question remains: Where do collaboration tools come in?

The place of collaboration

In the Blue World, collaboration tools will need to focus on data generation and performance tracking. They will have to deliver real-time data analytics from all aspects of employees’ work, and maybe even their personal lives and health as well.

Wearables will have a significant part to play in this world where our quantified selves will be competing on the basis of data-driven performance reports.

In the Green World, collaboration tools will be used for two main reasons:

  • First, co-creation to engage customers, partners, local communities and others to create new products and services will require substantial collaboration.
  • Moreover, the necessity of reducing our environmental impact will encourage the use of collaboration tools in order to diminish long distance commuting.

64% of people around the world believe that technology will improve their job prospects

In the Orange World, collaboration tools will rule the way in which we do business, and by extension the way in which we create products and services.

Task-specific collaboration tools will continue to emerge and compete, while broader collaboration tools based on project management and communication will become crucial and act as hubs that ignite production.

So which is it going to be?

Undoubtedly, it’s not going to be just one of these three worlds which dominates the business scene in 2022. They will more likely be spread out depending on location, industry, and many other criteria.

So, in my opinion, we can expect to see a mix of all three worlds coming together and competing with one another. Collaboration tools will have to adapt and provide innovations tailored to their different usages, depending on the evolution of the way in which we work.

What are your views on place of collaboration tools in the Future of Work?

Mattias Le Cren
Product Manager at Azendoo. I enjoy tech, building software, and football.
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