3 Workplace Innovations on the Rise in 2021

Fast Company’s list of 10 Most Innovative Workplace Companies for 2021 highlights innovations that kept people connected and productive during COVID. And now, these innovations are defining what post-pandemic work looks like.

A closer look at Fast Company’s list reveals three areas where workplace innovation is surging:

  • Communication
  • Coordination
  • Collaboration

Seven of the 10 companies on Fast Company’s list are driving innovation in these areas. Asana, Zoom, Slack, Gitlab, Atlassian, Bluescape (that’s us!), and Hugo reached 375 million users combined, proving to be as important as ever in the disrupted workplace. (For comparison, the U.S. workforce is 165 million.)

Will workplace innovation continue to concentrate in these areas, or will new needs emerge in the next phase of work?

Watch: 2021 Workplace Innovation

Communication

There are many ways to communicate: asynchronously in chat or live using video conferencing or meeting software. That’s why this category includes a range of tools. Slack, Zoom, and Hugo, while very different from each other, all landed on Fast Company’s Most Innovative list for helping teams communicate, manage meetings, and stay informed.

When it comes to communication solutions, teams tend to use several of them. Innovation in this category is about opening new channels of communication, while controlling information overload.

“Innovation isn’t just about solving a problem in a new way. It’s about solving a problem in the RIGHT way.”

-Bala Venkat, emerging tech expert, 2021 Most Innovative Tech

Coordination

Nearly all workplace innovations help teams communicate. Asana, GitLab, and Atlassian from Fast Company’s list have commenting, tagging, and assignment features, but their core purpose isn’t to improve communication. It’s to improve coordination and cooperation.

Best known in the world of bug tracking and agile project management, coordination tools aren’t just for software and web developers anymore. Teams in all lines of business use coordination tools for workflow management and OKRs (objectives and key results).

Collaboration

Where are teams collaborating in 2021? Within their communication and coordination tools, right? Teams can talk. Share files. See status updates. That works for routine tasks, but what about creative teaming, problem solving, and breakthrough innovation that used to happen in the meeting room?

According to Gartner,

“80% of software tools put in place to encourage people to collaborate are used to coordinate, communicate, and cooperate, as opposed to collaborate. [These tools] may be yielding some productivity improvements, but not the breakthrough innovation, problem solving, and creating you had hoped for.”

Bluescape is the only place where teams can collaborate on tough, creative work as if they’re in the room together. Picture a video call in a virtual room that houses all the content and tools teams need to do their best work. This virtual room provides what meeting rooms are great at creating: context and connections.

High-value collaboration took a hit in 2020, but the need for teams to put their heads together on tough, non-routine work didn’t go away. Considering 52% of companies are planning for hybrid work in 2021, a collaborative space that’s available across time zones on phones, laptops, and in meeting rooms is a must.

Try Bluescape free for 30 days

What about security?

This question becomes more critical every day: How is security playing into workplace innovation? Many platforms say they’re secure, but if you’re looking at new innovations, do some extra vetting in this area.

“There are so many hacks, especially when people are chatting and communicating on an open platform. Look for products that are enabling secure communications and access control.”

-Bala Venkat, emerging tech expert, 2021 Most Innovative Tech

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About the Author

Briana Harper
Sr. Content Marketing Manager
Content marketer with a pulse on global workplace trends. Loves working in emerging tech. Lifelong student of hype cycles, tipping points, and buyer behavior.

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