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Re-Imagining the Next Generation of Workplace Collaboration Tools

“CIO Perspectives” is a white paper series by Mark Settle that explores the top-of-mind technical issues confronting today’s CIOs and IT leaders. Mark is a seven-time CIO, a three-time CIO 100 award winner, and a two-time book author. His most recent book is Truth from the Valley, A Practical Primer on IT Management for the Next Decade.

The general purpose collaboration tools that are so widely used today were originally developed as a set of point solutions to facilitate email and text communication, videoconferencing, document sharing and task prioritization. They were deployed on a wholesale basis at the outset of the COVID crisis as an emergency measure to ensure the continuity of business operations. These 2019 era tools were never designed to address the collaboration needs of the physically dispersed, virtual-first, always-on, asynchronous and increasingly self-managed workplace of the 2020s.

The next generation of collaboration tools needs to deliver far more sophisticated capabilities in managing workplace communications, prioritizing work activities and fostering worklife well-being. Information received through multiple communication channels needs to be pre-processed and organized in ways that meet the information needs of individual knowledge workers. Taskwork of both an individual and team nature needs to defined, prioritized and scheduled in a more granular fashion with specific reference to an individual’s predisposition to perform specific types of tasks during different times of day, week or month.

Next-gen tools need to support a virtual-first workplace which nurtures the physical and mental hygiene of its workers by delivering information, reserving time, prompting breaks and providing diversions that alleviate the stress created by dawn to dusk meetings and messages. Collaboration tools should bring a sense of order and coherence to the demands being placed on a knowledge worker’s time and should foster a sense of daily and weekly accomplishment. In today’s work environment, they all too frequently result in heightened levels of job-related stress and frustration.

There’s been a great deal of speculation about the benefits and liabilities of hybrid working conditions in the aftermath of the Covid crisis. As a practical matter, we’re just starting to experience these conditions on a sustained, wholesale basis as corporate offices reopen in a gradual, staggered fashion.

This report presents an investment thesis for the collaboration tools that are needed to manage co-worker communications, promote productivity, and preserve sanity in the hybrid workplace of the 2020s. These tools are designed to relieve the monotony, mental exhaustion, and debilitating physical consequences of nonstop virtual work. They will enable knowledge workers to become the victors and not the victims of the escalating collaboration demands being placed upon their time and attention.

📚 Read “Re-Imagining the Next Generation of Workplace Collaboration Tools” white paper below or download here.




Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement. Sign up to get our digest of top content & industry news weekly:

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Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement.

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