The Future Is Now: Online Collaboration In The Virtual Workplace

March 7, 2015

A question like “what is the future of collaborative business?” is practically redundant since technology has already brought this vital feature into the business world. As my high school journalism teacher always said, the five most important things to ask are who, what, when, where, why and how.

The when is now, but also in the future. The where is the simplest to define: it is happening all over the internet, and more importantly, the internet of everything, as they say. People and businesses are doing practically everything online these days; selling products, providing services, networking on social media, paying bills, even the future of money is being found in digital wallets used to keep track of cash on the Internet.

Here are some interesting questions using this type of journalistic approach, often called the four W’s and one H. We’ve already looked at when and where, so here are some more inquiries:

Why online collaboration?

There are many benefits for collaborating online, which is when more than one person works together for a common cause. This sort of teamwork often creates an environment with more telecommuting opportunities, and an increase in off-site employee opportunities. With less face-to-face interaction necessary, workers can work remotely, cheaper and with less office distractions. Some of these benefits include:

  • Less time wasted commuting and stuck in traffic
  • Saves gas and is more environmentally friendly
  • A less stressful working environment
  • Greater productivity

Critics may argue with the latter, but The New York Times disagrees, citing a nine-month study with Stanford University and Ctrip, a leading Chinese travel agency. Results showed that home-based workers were 13% more productive than their office counterparts and the rate of people quitting was cut in half.

Who is tracking collaborative businesses online?

Since more people are working remotely, who else is tracking their success? According to Entrepreneur, systems like ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) promote better off-site working results by evaluating employees on performance over presence. Companies like The Gap and Best Buy have seen better customer service satisfaction, a 20 percent increase in productivity and 90% decrease in turnover rates.

What is the past and future for online collaboration?

Some consider QR codes, those small, device readable, black-and-white boxes used to communicate with consumers, as a humble beginning to the concept of online collaboration. As a matter of fact, these codes are still being successfully utilized today and Shopify offers a free, one-click, QR generator available online.

Many companies are offering software solutions that can tie many aspects of online collaboration into one platform. Usually working in cloud-based environments, these systems can bring together mobile, social and communication tools together for some of the best of online collaboration opportunities. This software can often streamline processes and bring together many different tools into a single location.

How can companies and businesses benefit from this?

Benefits for employers are plentiful and most of them are centered around the almighty dollar. Companies can save money by:

  • Reducing overhead
  • Fewer sick days
  • Reduced turnover rates
  • Less training required

As you can see, more online collaboration in business is a real win-win situation for both employers and employees. Even the environment wins with less people commuting to work.

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