Places People Prefer

The Office

The Office Agenda brings together our extensive insight into what makes an office that people – from employees to the board – prefer.

Places People Prefer

The Office


The future of collaboration

How will collaboration change over the next five years? And what should companies do about it? A recent report introduces a new concept to address these issues

Collaboration is a key ingredient for business success: the survival of an organisation of any size or type depends on how effectively it operates as a collaborative ecosystem. But how is the nature of collaboration changing? And what should companies be doing to take advantage of technological developments that enable people to transcend time, place and space to work together?

These are the questions that the report Fluid Collaboration: Exploring the Future of Collaborative Work – prepared by meeting and learning technology company Avocor in partnership with WorkTech Academy – seeks to answer.

What should companies be doing to take advantage of technological developments that enable people to transcend time, place and space to work together?

The report looks at the future of collaboration over the next five years, identifying key shifts in practice and critical success factors. It begins with a review of the importance of collaboration within the global knowledge economy, noting the environments and behaviours that create innovation, as described by management thinker Steven Johnson.

Key drivers and shifts

The report sets outs three key drivers of new forms of collaborative working:

1. Changing demographics: these require communication strategies to be re-evaluated for each generation, with particular emphasis on millennials and the digital natives who will form the main employee base in the future

2. The rise of sustainable cities: this is reducing the environmental impact of doing business and driving an increase in remote working solutions

3. Corporate space redesign: this is opening up the possibilities for dedicated, high- and low-intensity collaborative spaces within the context of agile and activity-based working.

It also identifies five major shifts, as collaboration increasingly takes place between companies (rather than within them), in dedicated spaces, on an ongoing, planned basis, and involving multiple participants working together at the same time.

The ‘Fluid’ concept

To address these shifts and enable organisations to benefit from the innovative ideas that flow from better collaborative processes, the report proposes a concept it calls ‘Fluid Collaboration’.

This has four main elements:

  • Fluid Space, which explores new environments for complexity, modelling and immersion
  • Fluid Tech, which increases the interoperability of communications and collaboration platforms, allowing them to be accessed and used on any device, over any network and from any location
  • Fluid Culture, which supports a move away from paper to digital flow and introduces a new digital code of etiquette
  • Fluid Intelligence, in which feedback data from unified collaboration platforms will give better insight into how the organisation really works.

The report concludes with two case studies that demonstrate ways in which the Fluid Collaboration approach can work, and a look forward to a future in which physical and virtual collaboration spaces begin to merge.

Spaces for collaboration

As Matt Webster, Head of Wellbeing and Futureproofing at British Land says, the challenge for offices of the future is to provide relevance and value.

“Why work somewhere when you can work anywhere? The technology is available, and flexible working policies are becoming widespread. But we’re seeing occupiers understand the value of the workplace more now as a space for collaboration and the sharing of ideas – something that is often done best face-to-face, facilitated by technology.

“Forward-looking employers are seeking out offices that feature flexible spaces suited to different types of collaborative working – and, of course, that feature high-quality digital connectivity so that people who aren’t on site can be included as necessary.”

Fluid Collaboration: Exploring the Future of Collaborative Work is an insight report from Avocor in partnership with WORKTECH Academy. You can download the full report here

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on the WorkTech Academy website



Changing workplaces

Top designers on the future of the office

Changing workplaces


A toolkit for tomorrow’s office

What will the office of the future look like? You may be surprised...

A toolkit for tomorrow’s office