More and more, we are becoming more networked by technologies. By 2020, the number of devices connected to the internet will far outnumber the amount of people in the world. However, the question is: Are we staying connected as a people?
The short answer: it sure seems like it.
As mobile workforces become increasingly popular, companies are finding ways to still promote collaboration and camaraderie. VP Curtis Patterson at Ring Central recommends digitized social activities where employers host book clubs, fitness groups, and social forums on the company intranet. For instance, a global energy company with hundreds of highly mobile workers promotes a Biggest Loser Weight Loss Challenge every year where colleagues interact via intranet forum regarding their statuses and the challenges they endure. The same company also encourages employees to participate in local community relations activities and share their stories with pictures on the intranet.
Patterson also recommends replicating the ‘water cooler’, the place known for rich corporate exchanges. Through specialized technologies today, like Sqwiggle, workers can strike up real-time impromptu conversations and video chat just as if they dropped by someone’s desk. As we all know, verbal communication is much more transparent than written communication and emails, so keeping this line open and robust is essential to staying connected.
But one of the most interesting practices of modern day collaboration is company hackathons that invite workers from different companies and different industries to hack away under one roof for the day. Hasbro recently hosted a hackathon where hackers created 45 products in less than 24 hours, a prospect that would have cost billions of dollars through traditional R&D. Product Marketers who don’t even know how to code are also able to participate in these hackathon events. Angelhacker founder Sabeen Ali says, “Prototypes were embedded with product marketing so all participants had a say in the hacks. And that was a big success because it was an inclusive event with a lot of collaboration and a really interesting turn on the traditional hackathons.” Though it is definitely a cultural change and shift in thought for companies to entrust their intellectual property to non-employees, this type of collaboration is seen as the game changer in today’s technological landscape.
Internet, computers, and cellphones are the signs of the times allowing more accessibility to one another than ever before. But the key is in promoting valuable human-to-human engagement using these new technologies to achieve the best results.