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The era of working in an isolated office cubicle all day may soon be over. More and more companies are knocking down their cubicles in favor of open or collaborative working spaces. But where we spend our time in the office isn’t the only thing that is changing either. How we work has transformed substantially in the last decade. Team projects, giving and receiving feedback, peer-editing, and other collaborative trends are becoming the norm for most workplaces. The importance of collaboration tools in the workplace is growing, and in 2017, their implementation will be one of the top priorities for companies. Here’s why:

Work is completed faster

According to the Harvard Business Review, 82% of professionals report that they need to partner with others throughout the day to complete their work. However, finding meeting space or planning in advance is difficult. In a typical workday, over 70 percent report wasting at least 15 minutes searching for space.
Online collaboration tools have helped to solve this problem by making working together on tasks easier than ever before. Individuals don’t need to be in the same room or even in the same country to collaborate on and edit projects. With video conferencing, meeting room software, and wireless presentation systems, team members can create, edit, and lead presentations without needing to meet face-to-face, and collaborate more efficiently during meetings where they do need to meet face to face.

Employees are more engaged and happy

Collaboration helps to foster teamwork and brings employees together, which makes a huge impact on their overall happiness. For many, the time spent in the office exceeds the typical 40 hour work week. It could even exceed the hours outside of the office. With so much time at work, employee satisfaction is crucial.
Several studies have shown that having work friends makes individuals more engaged and happy. One study claims that connecting with colleagues could bring more happiness than earning an extra $100,000 a year. Furthermore, when employees are happy and engaged, they are less likely to leave their current positions and more likely to be high performing, valuable members of your team.

Knowledge sharing creates higher quality end products

Two heads are better than one is more than just a saying. When two or more people work together on a project, they are more likely to reach or surpass their goals. According to ClearCompany, 86 percent of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration as the number one cause of business failures.
On the other hand, when teams collaborate and communicate effectively it can boost morale and motivation, as well as produce higher quality end products. Over 26% of individuals in a global study said that discussing success with co-workers motivates them. Collaborative environments, open meeting room setups, and new conference room technology allow individuals to share knowledge and give feedback in real-time. They can improve upon projects as they work on them, instead of at the end, when it is too late to revise.
It is becoming common for people to share ideas and complete projects and other work-related tasks in teams rather than alone. Those that still isolate themselves in cubicles and private offices are missing out on opportunities to exchange knowledge and expertise with colleagues. Whereas organizations that provide employees with collaboration tools and opportunities are gaining the competitive edge that they need to succeed in the future.

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For freelancers and remote employees, finding a decent work space can be a bit like wandering the desert in search of an oasis.
Working from home is always an option, but only for the ultra-disciplined. For most people, the combined temptations of a sofa, TV, and an Internet connection that doesn’t automatically block Netflix are just too overwhelming.
working from home
Working from a coffee shop is the next best option, but it too has its drawbacks (namely $6 lattes, limited seating, and lousy Wi-Fi).
expensive coffee
And then there’s working from the library, which is exactly like working from a coffee shop if you replace the $6 lattes with enormous stacks of books.
crowded library
This is where co-working spaces enter the picture. For the same amount of money you spend on your daily latte, you can rent a desk at a co-working space and enjoy all the benefits of going to an office every day, just like a normal employee.
Having people to talk to and collaborate with, having a daily routine, having a desk that isn’t three feet away from your bed—no longer are these off-limits. And unlike a “normal” employee, you get to enjoy all these perks without the hassle of having to work in the same building as your boss.
cool co-working space
In 2014, Inc. reported there was 83% growth in the number of co-working spaces, with memberships increasing by 117% between 2012 and 2013. This year, the number of co-working spaces in the world is poised to reach 10,000.
Of those 10,000 space, here are 10 that we think stand out from the pack.

  1. Impact Hub (Multiple locations)
    86 locations throughout the world and counting! ImpactHub is all about community connections and support. What’s special about this company is that it offers a franchise-like opportunity to open a location in one’s city or town via its Makers program. Each hub has its own offerings from their rentals to their events. For example, Impact Hub in Philadelphia, PA, offers a free co-working day on Wednesday for the community to explore the space and experience “a day in the life…” Rates will vary by location.
  1. WeWork (Multiple locations)
    With locations throughout the US, Israel, UK, and the Netherlands, WeWork offers a number of scalable space solutions for the freelancer to the large company. WeWork locations act as community centers offering shared and dedicated work spaces to meet your business and networking needs. Depending on the membership level, WeWork offers access to conference rooms and communal/recreation space. Members can enjoy a variety of perks, including free coffee/tea and arcade games. Memberships also include benefits to receive special offers from over 200 partners, such as Moo for business cards and ZipCar for travel.
  1. The Surf Office (Multiple locations)
    Who doesn’t want to work on the beach?!?! The Surf Office, with locations in Lisbon, The Canary Islands, and San Francisco makes it all possible. They’ve tapped into the “Work Hard, Play Hard” motto by offering on-site sleep accommodations, a place to work, and group field trips to explore the location and its culture. The Surf Office has created an international community of travellers, working on-the-go, to network and exchange ideas. Companies, big and small, can organize company retreats at The Surf Office locations. Their goal is to bring all employees together, including remote workers. Whether it’s for team-building exercises or to work on special projects, the opportunity for collaboration is a benefit within itself.
  1. Workplace One (Multiple locations)
    With 3 locations in Toronto and 1 in Kitchener, this Ontario-based co-working company offers its members virtual and physical office solutions based on work needs. Options range from flex space (shared desk) to meeting room as day office rental. Members can tailor services as needed, all within a secured environment.An added feature is event rental at 2 of the Toronto locations. Workplace One in King West and Queen West Village offer lounge space for meet-ups, cocktail parties, dinners and more. After a long day at work, there’s nothing like a party to celebrate a job well done! Members won’t have to go far!
  2. B Amsterdam (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
    Amsterdam is an innovative co-working hub in the center of Amsterdam, housed in a former IBM HQ building. It has been considered one of the most affordable co-working spaces in the world by Quartz. Their membership plans range from 5 flex days a month to a dedicated office. Amsterdam shines as a creative space, offering access to video production and photo shoot rooms. It acts a rental event space for parties, presentations and more. The hub also offers a gym with classes and programs for members at an additional fee. Members have the added benefit of accessing B. Bylon, the rooftop garden, where members can grow their own herbs and produce.
  3. Hacker Lab (California).
    Started in the heart of Silicon Valley, Hacker Lab consists of 2 co-working spaces in Northern California. Hacker Lab is focused on encouraging innovation in the technology sector by developing a community space for students and professionals to come together to form new ideas.The community aspect of Hacker Lab stems beyond collaboration. There’s Maker Space where members can design and produce prototypes. There are free and discounted classes and workshops. HackerLab also offers a mentorship program to connect with seasoned professionals and industry experts.The membership types range from student to private office. There is also an option to add a child to “Resident” level membership, which is a great way to encourage interest in technology and the sciences. Membership is good for access to both locations in Sacramento and Rocklin (San Francisco Bay area).
  1. Punspace (Ching Mai, Thailand)
    Punspace offers memberships and visitor passes to accommodate the steady worker and the traveling nomad. Members can choose from shared space and dedicated office plans. Visitor plans offer a range from one-day to a 24/7 week-long pass. No matter the membership plan, members have 24/7 access to the hub and are eligible for discounts on meeting room rentals. However, the those with quarterly to annual plans receive the added perks of free access hours to meeting rooms. All members are also invited to participate in community events at the hub (free and paid).
  1. Betahaus (Multiple locations)
    With hubs in Germany, Spain, and Bulgaria, Betahaus offers a variety of solutions based on location, membership options (individual and team) and event types. For instance, the Berlin location offers professional development and recreation courses on-site. In Hamburg, there are community-based pop-up stores. In Barcelona, there are carpentry workshops available on a daily or membership basis. In Bulgaria, community events include breakfast gatherings. Membership rates and benefits vary across the locations. However, Betahaus’ strength across the board is the understanding of its members and tailoring the space and community interaction to them. They celebrate their members with features on their blog and events like art exhibitions.
  2. Co+Hoots (Phoenix, Arizona)
    From its name, Co+Hoots is all about collaboration within its hub community. They offer a job board and employee referral network. They partner with local business for special discounts and access to small business events/workshops. They also have a community service exchange program for pro-bono work throughout the world through its Co+Hoots Foundation. Co+Hoots offers a variety of members from the single day (Fly By) to full-time member (Nest Member – There is a waiting list). Some memberships require a commitment to volunteer or offer promotion of your business. The point is to truly make the most of out of the local community, even shouting out local food trucks on their blog on Wednesdays.
  1. The Factory (Berlin, Germany)
    The Factory is Germany’s largest technology hub. It’s more of a campus for entrepreneurs and professionals to come together to launch new ideas. Its co-working space is just a piece of its community’s puzzle. The Factory offers classes, partner-sponsored special events and even a restaurant, Studio Tim Raue. Independent workers and large companies alike have a place to work, develop and grow. The Factory offers just about every tool one needs to be successful, including free coffee and printing. Memberships range from Basic one-day plans to monthly Full memberships based on company type (Startup. Business, Corporate).

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 40% of the workforce in the United States will consist of independent workers. If you combine that with the number of full-time and part-time employees who work remotely, that number would be much higher. Co-working spaces are meeting a need for those who travel for business or need to work somewhere other than home or the coffee shop.
Not sure what space is right for you? Many co-working spaces offer tours and free trials. This will allow you to experience if the environment is a right fit. Check out a few and see what will work for you.
The Global Coworking Map is a great resource to get information on coworking spaces around the world. It gives you data on country, cities, seats available and more! Visit http://coworkingmap.org/ to take a look!
Additional Reading
Working From Home: A Survival Guide
5 Must-Have AV Products For Your Conference Room
The Case Against Collaborative Spaces: Why Some People Find Them Unhelpful

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Technology has revolutionized the way that we communicate and collaborate with each other, especially in work environments. The instantaneousness of social media and cloud-based apps has raised expectations for response time and communication. Therefore, apps and other technologies are aiming to improve the way that we work together.
Collaboration tools can include video conferencing, wireless presentation systems, meeting room software, instant messenger, cloud technologies, and mobile apps. The goal of these technologies is to turn your meeting room into a collaborative meeting room. When managed effectively they make it easier to access files remotely, to talk face-to-face in a digital environment, and to simultaneously create and edit projects with others.
However, in order to implement them effectively, users must be open to using them to their maximum potential. If users think the apps are useless, then they will be useless. It is crucial to know more about what your users think about collaboration and communication technology at work in order for it to be successful. What do most users think?
Collaboration is crucial
When asking employees about collaboration in the workplace, most of them will agree that it is vital. In one UK study, three out of four respondents said that collaboration is crucial to the way that they interact with coworkers and clients. Studies have also shown that when employees work together closely on projects and tasks, they are more engaged and satisfied with their jobs. In general, users want to use technologies that foster and support collaboration. However, the challenge is finding the right tools for your organization.
Is it easy to use?
Users may want more collaboration, but what they don’t want is just another tool that they have to learn how to use. Technology should promote collaboration, not stifle it. If the technology is too difficult to use, it can do more harm than good.
Users are often hesitant to try a new tool, especially if it has a steep learning curve. This is perhaps the most crucial stage when introducing a technology into the workplace. In order for a tool to be even remotely successful, organizations must first overcome hesitation by ensuring that it is easy-to-use and useful.
How is it improving my job?
Collaboration technology is only truly successful when it improves overall business performance or satisfaction. Users want to know that the tech has had a significant, positive effect on how they do their job. This means that tools must go beyond simply increasing communication or improving response time. They must be embedded into the business processes, making them an important part of everyday operations.
Organizations are trying to increase collaboration and foster communication by introducing new technologies. Knowing what your users think about the tech is an essential step towards successful deployment and implementation. Organizations will know that these technologies are effective, when users begin to say statements like: It’s actually made my job easier, or I never want to go back to the way that we did it before.

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Advanced technologies like cloud adoption, collaboration tools, wireless projection, and mobile devices are changing how organizations reach their bottom line. In working environments around the world, collaboration is becoming the norm. Instead of working alone in cubicles, more offices are adopting open floor plans or sharing coworking spaces.
According to Queens University of Charlotte, 3 out 4 employers view teamwork as very important to business success. Many companies are implementing technologies to make it easier for employees to work together on projects and increase overall efficiency. However, the question many face is how to get them to use it effectively.
Whether you’re deploying a new wireless presentation software, internal employee site, or interactive displays, simplicity is key. How can simplicity help foster collaboration in your organization?

Anyone can use it

The success of collaboration ultimately relies on end user usage. Tools should never get in the way of tasks. Most collaboration tools are designed to improve processes. They are meant to increase productivity and flexibility by allowing users to work together in real-time from anywhere, not just workstations and huddle spaces. If a new software or program is too complicated or has too many features, it could have the opposite effect. A product that is meant to make a process easier and more efficient can actually end up slowing individuals down.
Furthermore, a complex system often requires users to go through hours or days of training in order to use it effectively. Simplicity allows users to bypass any learning curve and jump straight into projects.

It encourages users

Having a high-tech device or expensive software available doesn’t guarantee that people will take advantage of it. The ultimate goal is for it to be a valuable resource that they consistently want to use. Part of successful adoption of any service is in realizing the value it provides, but another crucial part some organization forget is making it easy to use.
Simplicity helps make users more open to trying a new tool. For instance, collaboration tools should be able to integrate with other systems that they commonly use. This streamlines the workflow, saves time, and increases productivity.

There’s less room for confusion

In a study by Salesforce.com, 97 percent of employees and executives agreed that the outcome of a task is directly impacted if there is a lack of alignment or understanding within a team. As a project grows in complexity, the likelihood of all the team members understanding it often decreases.
When simplicity is at the core of any job function, it leaves little room for confusion. In other words, it helps to ensure that all members involved in a project or business know the objectives and goals and how to reach them.
Businesses that adopt a collaborative work environment can increase productivity and even improve the quality of end products. However, many organizations realize the value of collaboration to their success, but still aren’t sure how to implement it. This is where simplicity is crucial. In order to foster beneficial collaboration in your organization, simplicity needs to be the driving force behind it.

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IT professionals’ play a huge role in workplace collaboration – which will improve with the overall business objectives, and increase productivity within the teams. By collaboration, it is important to have an open communication either through virtual communication tools or regularly in person collaboration sessions. This will help promote a positive and creative working environment.
There are 6 quick ways to Increase Workplace Collaboration

  • Utilize wireless presentation technology: Weekly collaboration sessions are recommended between team members. These weekly collaborate sessions can be an overview of tasks for the week or sharing best practices which will take 10-15 minutes. These sessions should be quick, where no one should be fumbling with cables – therefore, using a wireless presentation solution can make the progress seamless and easy.
  • Create a creative environment: The most innovative workplace environments are those where teams members feel like their voice can be heard. Make sure your workplace is an environment that encourages the voicing and sharing of ideas.
  • Lead by example: If you make the effort to work with the guys in marketing, or some other function in the business, your teams will be more inclined to work in the same way too. Demonstrate you are a leader.
  • Know your colleagues: The better you get along with your colleagues, the easier it is to work with them. It’s a simple rule to follow, but the more time you spend getting along with your colleagues personally the more over time you are sure to be rewarded professionally.
  • Set your expectations and clearly communicate them: It always helps a team especially remote teams if they know what is expected of them. Rather than let your teams drift along, make it clear what you expect of them. Tell them you want them to collaborate with one another!
  • Reward collaboration: If as a manager you see collaboration taking place between colleagues, celebrate it! Highlight the successes that collaboration has brought the company, and tell people how they are adding value. Remind individuals that ultimately they will be rewarded where they want rewarding most – in their pocket.

Hopefully, it has made you think about the ways in which you can become a more collaborative colleague too.