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7 Future Collaboration Trends & Forecasts for 2020/2021 – A Look into What’s Next

Category: B2B News

There are many ways by which you can achieve effective collaboration. For instance, you can promote open communication, nurture creativity, and create an atmosphere where teamwork comes first. However, as the modern workplace evolves, so should your collaboration strategies. This is why knowing the latest collaboration trends is a must for any manager, business owner, or team leader.

To help you engage your workforce more efficiently, we will be discussing what changes to collaboration efforts you should expect in the coming years. From the rise of distributed teams to the increasing use of the best collaboration software, we have provided the information you need to take your team efforts to the next level. Furthermore, we have also included some data and insights that might help you make the most out of each trend for your company.

key collaboration trends

You’ve heard it time and time again: collaboration is the key to success. But what does it mean to collaborate in the modern workplace? After all, the business landscape has changed quite a lot, so companies should be collaborating differently.

For starters, we’ve seen the growing accessibility of the Internet and the advent of social media. Moreover, with Millennials at the forefront and Gen Zers entering the workforce, we have observed a big shift in work habits and expectations.

Modern employees no longer settle for good compensation and benefits. They want office environments where they can learn and thrive in their careers. That said, it makes sense that most employees want workplaces that promote collaboration[1] (43%), according to the Gensler US Workplace Survey.

This was echoed by a similar study by Capital One that revealed over 3/4 of employees perform better in collaborative work environments[2].

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Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Promotes Team Building and Collaboration : 43

Promotes Team Building and Collaboration

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Supports Employee Well-Being : 34

Supports Employee Well-Being

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Fosters the Sharing of Knowledge and Best Practices: 33

Fosters the Sharing of Knowledge and Best Practices

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Provides the Latest Technology: 33

Provides the Latest Technology

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Inspires Creativity and Innovation: 32

Inspires Creativity and Innovation

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Maximizes Individual Productivity : 31

Maximizes Individual Productivity

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Communicates Shared Mission, Values, and Culture: 29

Communicates Shared Mission, Values, and Culture

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Fosters Camaraderie and Fun : 20

Fosters Camaraderie and Fun

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Builds Social Connections: 18

Builds Social Connections

Attributes of Great Workplaces in 2019
Supports Experimentation with New Ways of Working: 14

Supports Experimentation with New Ways of Working


Source: Gensler US Workplace Survey

Designed by

However, it is also important to note that we have an increasingly distracting workplace. To cite an example, 36% of Millennial and Gen Z employees spend at least 2 hours on their smartphones[3] during their billable time. What’s more, most meetings nowadays are disrupted by small talk (54%) and side discussions of other projects (45%).

With these data, we can safely say that it will take a lot more than daily huddles and implementing messaging platforms to get your teams to start collaborating more effectively. So, to give you ideas, we will be tackling some collaboration trends in the workplace that might help you create a positive work culture that can improve your operations and meet the needs of your employees.

1. Huddle Rooms

Companies have been replacing cubicles with open-office floor plans since the 50s to promote employee interaction. However, recent studies have proven that open offices are doing the opposite of its intended purpose. A 2019 Workplace Survey said that over 50% of employees feel open offices only invite distractions[4], thus putting a damper on productivity.

To resolve this, many organizations turn to using huddle rooms. These are essentially small conference areas with audio-visual equipment where teams can gather for impromptu or scheduled meetings. Research shows that these huddle rooms simplify the organization of quick meetings[5] (76%). These also provide privacy to confidential discussions (61%) and allow for a more focused brainstorming (61%) in distracting open office spaces.

So it only makes sense why there are now 32.4 million huddle rooms globally[6].

Plus, Frost & Sullivan predicts that most (70%) video conferences will be held in huddle rooms[6] instead of any other type of meeting place by 2020.

Another great thing about these huddle rooms is that they don’t take up much space. They are created for low cost, low effort installation. That said, businesses both big and small can easily benefit from this collaboration trend. With this, you can make your workers feel more included and ensure higher quality discussions sans interruptions.

Source: Cisco Rise of the Huddle Space Survey, 2018

Huddle Room Takeaways:

  • Huddle rooms can help you bring back a sense of privacy in open offices.
  • These small spaces bring big benefits by letting you facilitate more focused meetings and productive discussions.
  • Having a well-equipped huddle room can cut down the time spent on meeting room setup.

2. Distributed Workforce

Telecommuting and freelancing are perhaps two of the most popular enterprise collaboration trends of today. Nearly half (46%) of Gen Z workers are freelancers[7].

Meanwhile, 4.7 million employees work from home[8]. With these trends in work preferences, distributed teams are on the rise.

Distributed teams offer benefits for employees and employers alike. For workers, these options allow them the flexibility to work wherever they want and at the pace at which they prefer. In turn, employers enjoy higher quality output from their workers.

However, the downside to distributed teams is that it makes it more challenging for companies to promote collaboration among employees. In fact, according to the State of Remote Work report, 21% of companies say communication and collaboration is a huge struggle of distributed teams[9]. After all, remote workers rarely meet each other face-to-face. In some cases, remote workers don’t even need to speak with their superiors or their fellow employees daily.

To close this gap between in-house and remote employees, many organizations are resorting to different strategies. For example, some implement multimedia conferencing so employees can still see each other face-to-face without having to meet physically. Besides, there are those that schedule “in-office” days and scheduled retreats so remote workers can get to know their fellow employees on a more personal level.

The point here is before you join the bandwagon of offering freelancing and telecommuting work options, you should first come up with a solid collaboration plan. To help you out, here are some team communication strategies for online collaboration that you might want to consider.

Distributed Workforce Takeaways:

  • Remote workers often feel isolated and this can affect the quality of their output.
  • Companies need to create communication strategies such as organizing face-to-face or online meetings to manage distributed teams effectively.

3. Corporate Social Networking

Social media is an integral part of day-to-day life. So much that average Internet users spend 30% of their online time on social media[10] to connect with friends and family. However, social media’s power to bring people together is not limited to personal interactions anymore. This brings us to the next item on our list of collaboration software trends—corporate social networks.

Nowadays, many companies use social collaboration tools such as Workplace by Facebook to make team efforts more engaging. By using these platforms, employees can share documents and photos, post status updates, or even set up group chats just as they would on their social media accounts. The only difference is they’ll be focusing on work-related information.

This makes collaboration feel less of a chore and more of a social activity with their peers. What’s more, because employees are already familiar with the interface of these sites, implementing it for internal communication should be easy.

The only issue here is that there is still a generational gap when it comes to social media usage. Digital natives and immigrants have a better grasp of social media and are comfortable using it at work. Baby boomers, on the other hand, don’t have the natural inclination to use these sites as they are not familiar with them.

Roughly 30% of both Millennials and Gen Xers have used instant messaging every day for office-related purposes[11]. Meanwhile, only 12% of baby boomers have done the same. So, if you want to leverage this strategy, you should first consult how comfortable your employees will be when it comes to using this technology.

Workplace by Facebook is a popular example of an internal social media. Companies use this to make team communication more engaging and fun.

Corporate Social Networking Takeaways:

  • Internal social media makes for a more interesting and engaging team collaboration experience.
  • Corporate social networks have familiar interfaces, making it faster to learn compared to other collaboration platforms.

4. Cloud-Based Communication

Legacy infrastructures are fast approaching their end of life. With the demand for workplace flexibility and operational agility, more and more businesses are switching from on-premise collaboration tools to cloud-based communications software solutions.

A study by the Synergy Research Group confirmed this after they found online tools have surpassed legacy applications[12] in terms of market share by a ratio of 64% to 36%.

Cloud-based communication allows your workers to get in touch with each other more conveniently. Firstly, these tools can serve as databases where employees can upload and retrieve files as quickly as possible. Secondly, it allows workers to send real-time updates on their tasks. Lastly, this lets you centralize communication between in-house and remote employees via desktop and mobile devices.

This makes it highly popular for distributed teams as well as companies with employees that travel a lot. Also, this is one of the top nonprofit collaboration trends. This is because it simplifies brainstorming for volunteers who can’t always make time to meet with fellow volunteers physically.

In case you want to take your collaborative efforts to the cloud but don’t know where to start yet, check out our guide to using online collaboration tools. With this, you should be able to get a better idea as to how you can set up your online collaboration strategy.

Cloud-Based Communication

Most Popular Collaboration Software

  1. is the 2019 Webby awards winner for best productivity app and the easiest way for your team to plan, organize, and track projects.
  2. Wrike lets you prioritize your assignments, monitor updates in real time, and give timely feedback in one intuitive interface.
  3. Smartsheet is an award-winning, enterprise SaaS collaboration solution for organizations, offering an innovative approach to collaborating on any project or process.
  4. Slack is a messaging app that brings all your communication together in one place. It offers real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern teams.
  5. Asana is a popular task and project management tool that allows for an easier team collaboration and communication.

Cloud-Based Communication Takeaways:

  • Cloud-based collaboration allows you and your employees to work together on-the-fly.
  • Cloud communication tools let your team members coordinate tasks and relay information using any device they prefer.
  • Facilitating conversations on the cloud makes it easier to pull important information, thus improving overall efficiency.

5. Smart Meeting Rooms

The future of collaboration just got better with smart meeting rooms. From virtual assistants and interactive whiteboards to intelligent scheduling and 360-degree video cameras, there are a plethora of new technologies that you can equip your meeting rooms with now.

By having these tools at your disposal, you can do away with transcribing meetings manually or pulling data on past projects. You can even start annotating charts as you present them by using a smart stylus if you opt to use digital whiteboards. Moreover, you may choose to use IoT to connect all these techs with the rest of your system. This way, relaying information and making sure that all of your software solutions are synchronized are done as fast as possible.

You might be thinking, “Why spend money on this new equipment when you can make do with what you already have?” Well, the simple answer to that is that it’s good for employee morale which can, in turn, drive better collaboration.

According to a study by Clutch, 66% of workers say technology will create new opportunities[13].

Moreover, technology positively affects employee satisfaction[14]. With these facts, you can rest assured that investing in smart meeting rooms is money well spent in the long run.

Smart Meeting Room Takeaways:

  • Tech-powered meeting rooms allow you to remain competitive in a fast-paced business landscape.
  • Using advanced techs such as automated note-taking and scheduling can help you make meetings more efficient.

6. VR and AR Adoption

If you’ve seen enough sci-fi movies, then you’ve probably tried to imagine what it would be like to have their tech in real life. At some point, you might have wanted to immerse yourself in a fictional world as they did in “Ready Player One.” Perhaps you would have wanted to manipulate digital displays like Tony Stark in “Iron Man.”

While we might not have technologies advanced enough to do all of that, the good news is that modern breakthroughs are slowly making these possible. Moreover, the virtual reality and augmented reality tech that we have on the market now are advanced enough to reinforce collaboration efforts.

These are the game-changers in current collaboration market trends. These help you avoid the risk of getting lost in translation while collaborating online. Simply put, you no longer have to worry about your signals getting crossed or your ideas getting muddled.

With these at your disposal, you can facilitate more immersive online conferences with your team. What’s more, it will allow you to create virtual spaces where you and your teammates can visualize ideas more clearly. For example, interior designers can create a 3D mock-up of the space they want to design and simultaneously modify their designs. Similarly, engineers can use 3D imaging to get a more accurate sense of robotics projects.

One thing to note, however, is that there are still plenty of kinks that developers need to work out before perfecting these technologies. According to a recent survey, the biggest obstacle to VR/AR adoption is user experience[15]. They believe the hardware for this tech is too bulky at the moment and there’s still too many technical glitches. That said, you should set your expectations accordingly should you choose to purchase one.

VR and AR Adoption

VR and AR Adoption Takeaways:

  • Virtual reality and augmented reality tech make it possible for creative teams to collaborate even outside of the office.
  • VR and AR can make remote teams feel more connected, thereby increasing efficiency and improving output.

7. AI and Machine Learning for Collaboration

Last but not least on our list of collaboration industry trends is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In a 2018 Nemertes research, experts revealed that 41% of companies will be using AI[16] for unified communications and collaboration in the coming years.

These technologies include but are not limited to voice assistants with specialized roles, predictive filtering systems for notifications, and CoBots that can interact with humans to optimize processes. Using these, you can automate mundane tasks that come with collaborative efforts. From analyzing opportunities for collaboration and simplifying the appointment scheduling, these can help you make the most out of your productive hours. Moreover, these can help you and your team focus more on brainstorming rather than handling back-office tasks.

However, just keep in mind that as AI and machine learning leverage data. Meaning, these could leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks or data abuse. That said, you might want to equip yourself with good IT security platforms to protect your confidential company data.

Collaborative AI Adoption Takeaways:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning can optimize collaborative efforts.
  • Incorporating AI and ML tech can eliminate repetitive tasks during meetings, collaborative tasks, and long-term projects.

Make the Most Out of Your Collaboration Efforts

Building a collaborative environment fit for the next-gen workforce is not as much of a puzzle as it seems. As you have read in our article, improving collaboration efforts can be as simple as providing employees with a private room for brainstorming. But, it could be as complex as using augmented reality for project visualization. For some, it could mean using new communication platforms and technologies to unify distributed teams.

The only point here is that you will need to have a firm grasp of current collaboration trends and technology shifts. By doing so, it will be easier to pinpoint what collaboration strategies will work best for you and your team.

To sum up, we hope that you were able to determine how you can make the most out of your collaborative efforts. Moreover, we hope this was able to give you an idea of what industry changes you should prepare for soon.

If you’d like to learn more about how other companies are collaborating, feel free to check out our list of online collaboration statistics. This should give you in-depth data and insights on the state of collaboration today.



  1. ^Gensler US Workplace Survey 2019
  2. ^Capital One 2019 Work Environment Survey Results
  3. ^Udemy In Depth: 2018 Workplace Distraction Report
  4. ^Workplace Survey Results 2019
  6. ^Growth Opportunities for Video Conferencing in Huddle Rooms, Global, Forecast to 2022
  8. ^Latest Work-At-Home/Telecommuting/Mobile Work/Remote Work Statistics
  9. ^State of Remote Work 2018 Report: What It’s Like to be a Remote Worker in 2018
  10. ^Social Media Captures Over 30% of Online Time
  11. ^Communication barriers in the modern workplace
  12. ^Cloud Communications Continue to Drive and Disrupt the $45 billion Collaboration Market
  13. ^How Future Technology Impacts Employees
  14. ^The Ultimate Software 2016 National Study on Satisfaction at Work
  16. ^Unified Communications and Collaboration: 2018 Research Study


Louie Andre

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. From pitch deck to exit strategy, he is no stranger to project business hiccups and essentials. He has been involved in a few internet startups including a digital route planner for a triple A affiliate. His advice to vendors and users alike? "Think of benefits, not features."

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