The shift to remote work is rapidly forming into permanence that will persist even after COVID-19 is no longer a concern. In fact, 89% of companies anticipate that many to most of their workers will work from home post-COVID-19, according to PWC.
Executives and office workers alike are embracing the end of the office as we know. Fifty-five percent of the former expect to extend WFH options post-COVID, while 72% of the latter say they’d like to WFH for at least two days a week. Meanwhile, 32% would prefer to never work from home.
In any case, employees will not be returning to the same office they left behind, and everyone will need to find new ways to work together while apart. In particular, companies need to focus on enabling collaboration between team members — the number one reason employees say they go into the office in the first place. And more importantly, difficulty collaborating is the number one reason given for being unproductive while sheltering in place (39%), followed by balancing work with home duties such as childcare (38%).
When it comes to productivity, the transition to working from home hasn’t been as smooth as employers perceive. Executives are more likely to report that employees have become more productive (44%), while just 28% of employees agree. It’s clear that enhancing collaboration is a keystone to improving productivity from home.
When people think “remote,” they think video calls, chat, and email. Something’s missing — and it’s imagination.
When you connect and collaborate visually, you create new possibilities. You combine ideas, concepts, and pictures in new ways. You play. You explore. Free to imagine, you take what’s inside your head and put it out into the world. Getting ideas into a visual space allows you to shape those ideas.
At MURAL, we believe that the most important factor for effective collaboration is having a space to put imagination to work — not necessarily a place. Collaboration can happen anywhere as long as the space exists for it to happen, but the quality of the space does make a difference. We’re proud to say that MURAL’s digital space for visual collaboration is trusted by 43 percent of the global Fortune 100. Here are five features of highly effective collaborative spaces.
For anyone who’s ever thought it would be easier to talk this out, you can appreciate the efficiency of real-time communication that ensures participants are fully engaged. Real-time communication also reinforces human connection across a remote workforce.
For any team, but especially those who are distributed across different time zones, it’s critical to allow for updates and communications to be shared asynchronously. This allows for you to actually be in two (or three, or four) spaces at once. Work can continue to happen between meetings and stay on schedule with each contributing team member continually adding to the progress.
No matter the format — video, PDF, Google Docs, MURAL, etc. — everyone should be able to easily access, view, share, and work on a piece of content together. Ideally, content is centralized and stakeholders can control permissions to access. Having a single source of truth that can be accessed from anywhere makes it easy to drive awareness and keep everyone informed across distributed teams. Whatever content sharing tool you use, it should integrate with your existing communication channels and be accessible across devices. When possible, we recommend automating software updates to ensure there’s never an incompatibility issue that prevents you from opening a file.
With everything going on in collaborative spaces, it’s important that there’s a record of the work you’re doing — something that can be referred to, restored, and saved as an artifact. Even better if the conversation that happens in a collaborative space can be recorded and saved along with the visual thinking. Records of visual collaboration can be useful for reflecting on the progress or development of a project, seeing where you started and how you ended up to the final outcome.
Typically, collaboration calls for whiteboards, sticky notes, and flip charts. In a word, it’s visual. At MURAL, we call this visual thinking, and it’s the greatest challenge about collaborating from home. So much of thinking out loud together is lost without being able to point to something as you ask, “Do you see what I’m saying?” or “See what I mean?” Visual collaboration offers a multitude of ways to clarify meaning, enhance communication, and organize brainstorming by topic, phase of a project, or however else suits a need. Visual thinking also allows for a team to more easily consider multiple options, comparing them all at once in one space and building off each other’s ideas. The best collaborative spaces have a variety of tools, such as sticky notes, icons, shapes, etc. The more creativity at your disposal, the more you can put imagination to work.
Imagination can sound fluffy, but the economic impact of being able to put imagination to work is undeniable.
A successful transition to a remote workforce means more than just handing out laptops and Zoom accounts. Employees are desperately seeking to recreate a sense of connection and collaborate with teammates while working from home.
MURAL was created nine years, before a global pandemic made a visual thinking workspace the business necessity that it is today.
“Every day, new teams discover that once you have the space to make ideas visual, the methods to make ideas clear, and the freedom to collaborate, you speed up the process of innovation. You transform work.”
💡 Mariano Suarez-Battan | MURAL Co-founder & CEO
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