Keeping employees connected and working productively has become the glue holding many businesses together during the COVID-19 pandemic. And with social distancing ruling out face-to-face meetings anytime soon, the need for new digital tools to help teams collaborate better has soared.

In addition to mainstays like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet, there are range of start-ups and scale-ups working on innovative ways to connect workers. Increasingly, collaboration isn’t just about team chat: people work together in countless ways — meaning the tools they now need will likely come in many shapes and sizes.

The rush to work from home, and more recently, to figure out how to safely re-open offices, has spurred companies to move quickly. There are a range of communication apps from which to choose: apps for instant messaging, video and email, work management tools to coordinate projects for teams, and collaborative productivity apps more tuned to teamwork than shuffling papers.

“Many of the new startup tools are taking existing concepts and reinventing them,” said Angela Ashenden, principal analyst for workplace transformation at CCS Insight. In many cases that’s meant an end to assumptions about the need for on-premise, client-server applications — allowing companies to “[rethink] them for a millennial-rich cloud and mobile world where the focus is more on enabling real-time collaborative work, not cataloguing and sharing personal work,” she said.

“…The current shift to remote work means that many teams and businesses are overhauling their thinking about how they work together, so it’s a time of great opportunity for these new tools,” said Ashenden.

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