Workplace communication trends to watch in 2019

Predicting the future is always a risky business. But it seems particularly perilous as we leave 2018 and venture into the New Year.  Nevertheless, being aware of trends and changes means gives us the opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

With that in mind, here are our top workplace communication trends to watch in 2019.

Flexibility and mobility continue to be a priority

There’s little chance of any reversal in the trend for workers and workplaces to be more flexible and more mobile. Working remotely – from home, coffee shops or clients’ offices – will continue to require seamless contact using voice, data and video solutions.

Our recent research found that employees felt immediate access to data would be the most important benefit of improved process technology. Easy access to each other and information means that quick, accurate and effective decisions can be taken wherever we are.

Voice and video interaction becomes the norm

We are faster than ever at adopting and adapting to new technologies. Inevitably, technology has impacted how we communicate and collaborate. But some things never change. For instance, our reliance on non-verbal cues, such as body language, facial expressions, eye-contact and posture. These things tell us just as much if not more about a person’s frame of mind than what they say.

This is why video conferencing and video calls will continue to become a more frequent occurrence whatever our line of business or role. The need to communicate quickly, easily and reliably is a trend that has not and will not go away.

Video calls have also been proven to improve the retention of information. A video call is a richer sensory experience and as a result sticks around in the memory for longer.

People-centric design shapes workplace decisions

When companies are thinking about the future of their business they are thinking about the workplace, their processes and the technology that’s going to help (or hinder) them along the way. All well and good. But it’s the people that need to be at the centre of this planning.

Only by considering, assessing and planning your people’s requirements can the right workplace be designed, the right processes implemented and finally the right technology deployed.  No doubt individuals will come and go but the people’s needs must be properly defined first.

Our research found that while 98% of employees are enthusiastic or excited about the introduction of new technologies, one third didn’t feel able to get the most out of basic solutions such as Microsoft Office, printers and PCs.

Businesses looking for cost-savings in uncertain times

We find ourselves in uncertain times. The outcome of Brexit remains unclear and the political landscape is unpredictable. As a result, business of all sizes are going to be looking for cost-savings. Which means they’ll be looking to reduce spending unless there is a clear and speedy ROI.

We may also see an increase in ‘as a service’ offerings and customers will be just as happy having access to a product without necessarily owning it. Ricoh are obviously a part of this trend ourselves, offering a range of ‘as a service’ and managed service solutions for our clients.

Applications over hardware

In order to optimise flexibility and mobility, solutions need to be built around content and adding-value. It’s the solution and the application that are key, not the hardware.  The analogy I often use is that what I’m watching on TV is more important to me than the TV that I’m watching it on. I know that I need one but after that I’m far more interested in the film, the sport or the drama.

One area of emerging applications are those that aid the running of more effective meetings, so called “Meeting Assistants”. Gartner estimate that by 2022, 40% of meetings will be facilitated by virtual concierges and advanced analytics.

AI (finally) enters the workplace

Related to this preference for applications over hardware is the increased focus on AI. We are already seeing this in the customer service environment with bots and self-service solutions. Customers will have a growing expectation of speaking to or interacting with technology before they interact with a human. However, they will not be forgiving of errors. Which means the AI needs to be carefully programmed and designed around the end-user and their needs.

Conversations around AI and the automation of the customer experience will change from ‘could and will’ to ‘can and does’. There will be viable, useful and sophisticated customer service applications available to deploy in 2019.

These new solutions will become increasingly affordable and deliver a quick ROI. Which is why we will see the deployment of such solutions take-off in all sorts of sectors.

Are you looking to capitalise on the latest communication developments?

If you have any questions about the future of workplace communication and collaboration, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Gerard McGarrigle

Pre Sales Consultant at Ricoh Ireland

Read all articles by Gerard McGarrigle