Knowledge workers: Inspiring collaboration in the modern workplace

Written by Lieven Bertier on 16 March 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

Lieven Bertier praises the continued rise of collaboration in the workplace. 

Visit any modern office and you’re likely to leave with one word in mind: collaboration. It’s become a vital part of the 21st century workplace, and it’s been influenced by the domination of so-called ‘knowledge workers’. A knowledge worker refers to anyone who spends their working days thinking, problem-solving or handling large amounts of information.

It’s essentially a buzzword to categorise a selection of existing professions — software engineers, product developers, technical writers and data analysts are all knowledge workers, for example — but as the number of knowledge workers in the typical workplace rises, so does their influence on how we work.

Due to the nature of what they do, knowledge workers cannot carry out their jobs by sitting at a desk all day. Instead, they need to be flexible and collaborative to get work done.

They must have the freedom to move from one location to another to work efficiently, and they need enough working space to be able to discuss, debate and brainstorm with others. 

This means that businesses are having to adapt and transform their offices to accommodate these requirements, and this has resulted in a wider shift in our way of working.

More and more employees — not just those who would be classed as knowledge workers — are opting to work collaboratively to get the best results, and businesses are slowly realising the wider benefits of widespread collaboration, including increased morale and a higher quality of work. 

For employees to be able to collaborate effectively, they need to be able to walk into a room with any device and be able to share content quickly and easily, whether it’s a document, a slideshow presentation or a video conference.

This focus on collaboration has also birthed many trends that seem to be taking businesses by storm, including the huddle room. The huddle room is essentially a small, accessible room that is the ideal solution for those looking to collaborate away from their desks. Crucially, huddle rooms cannot be booked up front; they’re designed to be open spaces available on an ad-hoc basis. 

The huddle room provides a refreshing change of environment for getting stuff done and are typically used for impulsive collaboration, such as a creative brainstorm session or the proof-reading of a presentation. But, with most businesses restricted by a limited audio-visual budget, employees are using their personal devices to collaborate more efficiently. 

Indeed, the key to a success for any huddle room — and, on a wider scale, any modern meeting room — is compatibility with a wide range of different devices.

For employees to be able to collaborate effectively, they need to be able to walk into a room with any device and be able to share content easily, whether it’s a document, a slideshow presentation or a video conference.

It’s no longer acceptable to be wasting time scrabbling around for the right HDMI cable or laptop adaptor before the meeting starts. 

This is why it’s critical for all rooms to be enabled with device-agnostic plug-and-play technologies. These encourage collaboration instead of hindering it, reduce the amount of time wasted, and future-proof the environment in anticipation of the continued rise in BYOD.

With knowledge workers continuing their domination of the work landscape, it seems that collaboration will continue to be a key theme of all 21st century workplaces for a long time yet. This is why businesses need to make sure they’ve got the right technology, the right environment and the right attitude to thrive. 

 

About the author

Lieven Bertier is head of product management, Barco

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