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8 digital workplace trends for more collaborative, competitive teams in 2023
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8 digital workplace trends for more collaborative, competitive teams in 2023

Discover the top digital workplace trends of 2023, how to apply them to your business, and which tech tools companies are using to stay competitive.

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So you’re going over your tech stack, systems, and business processes. Your digital workspace and teams are functioning like a well-oiled machine, but you can't help feeling that you could be performing even better. You’re also concerned that you’re not taking full advantage of new trends—though your competition most certainly is. 

You know there are digital workplace trends that could make your people even more efficient and effective at their jobs, but which should you bet on and which are a flash-in-the-pan? It’s not easy to decide when everything’s changing so fast. 

2023 has already been a big year for digital workplace trends (hello, ChatGPT) but AI isn’t the only thing happening right now. If you aren't aware of these trends–whether you’re adopting or avoiding them–you risk falling behind.

In this piece, you'll learn about eight digital workplace trends and tools that top leaders are using to stay competitive. You’ll also get actionable advice to implement these practices in your workplace, like using Switchboard’s visual collaboration platform to get your teams working better together.  

Want to prioritize collaboration and stay competitive?  
Switchboard brings all your tools, people, and projects together so you can stay ahead of the game.
Learn more

Let’s take a look at the eight digital workplace trends you need to be across this year. 

1. Automation will continue to free up worker’s time

Automation reduces the manual work involved in repetitive and time-consuming tasks. From data entry to report generation, automation software handles these tasks swiftly and accurately, freeing up employee time and improving team productivity

Research by McKinsey shows that 21.5% of the hours worked in the US economy could be automated by 2030. 

With less repetitive, mundane tasks to do, people are also more likely to pivot careers and move from lower-wage service jobs to high-wage positions. Because they have more time to engage in higher-level thinking and tasks, researchers believe automation can lead to the development of new products, improved customer experiences, and increased agility. 

According to Tim Lockie, CEO of The Human Stack: "That's the promise of technology, and more specifically automation. It's going to make your life easier and save you time. That's all people really care about: They want to know if they can do their job, if they can do it faster, and if their boss will notice." 

Here's how you can jump on the time-saving trend: 

  • Choose the right automation tools. To create an intuitive digital employee experience, consider using workflow automation platforms, AI-powered chatbots, or custom software solutions to automate repetitive, time-consuming, or manual tasks. For example, updating your customer relationship management (CRM) platform after every sales call. 
  • Start small. Begin with small-scale automation pilot programs to test the effectiveness of your chosen solutions. For example, testing an automatic meeting scheduler internally before expanding it to client meetings. Monitor results closely and make necessary adjustments before scaling up.
  • Empower employees. Encourage employees to use the extra time freed up by automation for more strategic and creative tasks. Provide opportunities for skill development and innovation to motivate them and develop skills.
  • Keep improving. Automation is not a one-time fix. Continuously assess your automation initiatives to spot any weaknesses in your workflow. 

2. Generative AI will contribute to economic growth

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) takes automation one step further. These tools can identify patterns across large sets of data and create new content based on that data. With natural language capabilities that were once thought of as uniquely human, generative AI can now quickly produce high-quality text, images, and video on command. 

With generative AI and automation in the mix, approximately 30% of the hours worked today could be automated by 2030. This makes knowledge work more productive and adds to the major shift away from office support jobs, customer service, and food service employment. Handing time-consuming work over to AI lets people focus on tasks requiring collaboration, creativity, problem solving, and relationship building. 

It's estimated that around 3.5 million jobs could be displaced through direct and indirect effects of generative AI across the economy. However, at the macro level, these losses could be offset by gains of 4.2 million jobs due to advances in AI, including jobs that pay more and require higher-skilled workers. For example prompt engineers, fact-checkers, or programmers.  

To capitalize on this trend, you need to establish clear guidelines and guardrails specific to your needs. This means defining the scope, limitations, and responsibilities associated with generative AI projects. For example, you might let analysts use ChatGPT to help make sense of large volumes of data and generate summaries but insist on human intervention for writing reports that will be presented to key stakeholders. 

3. There’ll be an increased demand for tech workers in every sector 

Despite recent layoffs at major tech companies the demand for tech talent continues to grow as multiple sectors digitize.   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for cybersecurity analysts will grow by 35% between 2021-2031 and jobs for software developers by 25%, both outpacing the average 5% job growth rate. 

Additionally, banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare are currently undergoing major digital transformations and need workers with advanced skills in new technologies. These include everything from digital and information literacy to coding and programming. 

There will also be increased demand in all sectors for social-emotional skills like teamwork, resilience, empathy, and communication, as people look to secure the skills AI can’t replace. 

Here's how you can get ahead of this trend: 

  • Assess your team’s skills. Then, anticipate the specific digital skills and roles your business will need in the coming years. Consider factors like industry trends, technological advancements, and your company's growth plans. For example, if you’re planning to create an app to make your e-learning courses more accessible, you’ll need to hire software developers and engineers. 
  • Create a plan to attract top talent. This may involve recruiting from universities, using job boards, attending industry and tech events, or partnering with staffing agencies. 
  • Invest in ongoing training and development programs. Reskill and upskill existing employees with workshops, courses, and certifications to keep your workforce engaged and competitive. 
  • Offer flexibility. Be open to remote and hybrid work arrangements if possible, as they can widen your talent pool and let you hire from different geographic regions. This makes it easier to find the talent you need.
Pro tip: Use Switchboard to help you improve skills like collaboration, empathy, and communication across your team. Set up a persistent room in your shared workspace for spontaneous 1:1 chats, online office games, or side-by-side working and brainstorming sessions. Get everyone together for true collaboration while fostering the soft skills needed to stay connected and competitive.
Screenshot of the icebreaker generator in a Switchboard room during a 1:1 meeting
In Switchboard, you can bring all your favorite team-building games into your meeting room or use the icebreaker questions generator—and build stronger ties with your team. Source: Switchboard

4. Workflows and tools will need to encourage working in context

Context switching between projects, apps, tabs, and notifications limits productivity and costs employees around four hours every day. 

To avoid this, look for tools that integrate well with each other, act as a central hub and source of truth, or allow you to access information from a variety of different sources. This means more in-context working and less time digging around in different tools to find what you need. 

The new digital workplace solutions make it easy to work together and collaborate with stakeholders because you can access the information and tools you need anytime from anywhere. This helps prevent silos and bottlenecks. Solid digital workflows also provide context for tasks and keep cross-functional teams on the same page. This lets you get more done in real time or async, whether they’re remote, hybrid, or in-person.  

Here's what you can do to enable more in-context working: 

  • Use collaborative tools. You need the right tools to facilitate teamwork and communication within specific project or departmental contexts. Use tools like Asana for project management; Dropbox for file management, Notion for document management, and Slack for internal communications.
  • Provide access to resources and information. A well-organized digital workplace and knowledge-sharing platforms help make sure employees have easy access to the information, tools, and resources they need to work effectively. 
  • Encourage cross-functional teamwork. Some tasks or projects may require input and expertise from multiple departments, so make sure employees can easily collaborate across teams and contexts. 
  • Use platforms built for working in context. Visual collaboration tools like Switchboard let you create persistent rooms and keep everything organized by project. You can open up all the browser-based apps, documents, and files your cross-functional teams need in one place and work on them side-by-side. No more one-sided screen sharing and no more context switching.  
Screenshot of a marketing meeting in a Switchboard room
Create a dedicated Switchboard room organized by project, so you're always working in context. Source: Switchboard 

5. Teams will work more asynchronously

Async working lets you complete tasks and communicate on your own schedule. This allows for greater flexibility and can lead to increased productivity and employee satisfaction. Though it accelerated with the shift to remote and hybrid working arrangements in 2020, async is about more than that now: It's about finding new ways to work that suit everyone. 

For example, some team members may prefer async work because they work better alone or need a flexible schedule due to caregiver responsibilities. Or they might just be on the other side of the world and not online at the same time as everyone else. 

Close to sixty seven percent (66.7%) of knowledge workers prefer to share their ideas with managers async, so switching to async work normalizes this. Remember, whether you’re working in real time or async you’ll need to create a psychologically safe environment for people to feel safe sharing ideas. You should also try different team collaboration techniques to find ones that work in real time and async. For example, encouraging clear communication and accountability, which are crucial for async to work.  

To work more effectively async, you should: 

  • Document everything. Clear and comprehensive documentation of tasks, decisions, and discussions acts as a reference point for you and your team, keeping everyone on the same page. 
  • Minimize interruptions. Encourage people to set aside hours for focus work. They should also silence non-urgent notifications during these periods to minimize interruptions and maintain productivity. 
  • Respect time zones and availability. When collaborating with team members in different time zones, be mindful of their working and focus hours. Use scheduling tools to send messages and emails at convenient times for your team members and encourage them to disconnect out-of-hours. 
  • Host regular check-ins. Schedule periodic check-ins or status updates with your team to review progress, address questions, and provide updates on your work. 

6. We’ll have fewer, but more meaningful meetings 

Sixty-one percent (61%) of employees believe meetings interfere with productivity and focus, and 51% claim they’re a source of stress. That means you need to consider whether those meetings are really necessary. 

Working effectively async means you can cancel more meetings and make the ones you do hold more productive. This will also mean people are more engaged when they do need to attend because they know it won’t be a waste of their time.  

To make your meetings more productive, make them more focused by using persistent rooms. In Switchboard, you can create persistent 1:1, project, or team rooms and add all the documents, browser-based apps, and tools you need before the meeting starts. This saves time setting up the room and sharing information beforehand. 

Your team can access the room and meeting content before, during, and after the meeting, or check out the room recording. This allows anyone working async to hop in and catch up or add their contributions when it suits them. 

Persistent room in Switchboard populated with browser-based apps, files, and documents
Switchboard is your single source of truth for synchronous and async working. Source: Switchboard

7. Leaders will need to focus even more on people and wellbeing

Digital workplaces have many benefits, but people should always be at the heart of them. This means that leaders will need to place greater emphasis on developing high-value human skills and resilience. Tech should be used to build more productive, connected teams, not replace people. 

Companies are starting to recognize that employee’s physical and mental health is directly linked to productivity, engagement, and overall success. Employees are also aware of this: eight in 10 Gen Zs and millennials cite mental health support as a top factor when considering a potential employer. This means you need to be ready to demonstrate your commitment to people’s wellbeing. 

Ineffective work systems like tool, tab, and meeting overload also have significant costs for employee wellbeing, for in-office and remote workers alike. These factors are associated with higher chances of burnout and the loss of morale that comes with ineffective teamwork. 

To enjoy the benefits of a digital workplace and get healthier, happier employees: 

  • Provide flexible work options. If applicable, offer flexible work options such as async work, remote work, flexible hours, and compressed workweeks to accommodate employees' work-life balance needs.

  • Encourage work-life balance. Set reasonable work expectations, minimize overtime, and promote the use of vacation time, if possible. Encourage digital disconnection and focus time—and lead by example. 
  • Support professional development. Offer opportunities for skill development and career growth to close any digital skills gaps and improve employee engagement and retention. For instance, if your content writers are interested in learning search engine optimization, provide opportunities for shadowing or taking a course.
  • Offer mental health support. Provide resources and support for stress management and mental health, including access to counseling services, mental health days, and training to reduce stigma and promote awareness. More workplaces are offering subscriptions to health and wellbeing apps like Calm, Oliva, and BetterHelp. 

8. Organizations will rethink traditional training methods

Once, webinars were all the rage. But unless you give people the chance to practice what they’ve learned in context, they may switch off and forget everything they learned. Now, instead of passively absorbing information, new learning trends include microlearning and gamification. These approaches break information into smaller, bite-sized chunks and keep you actively involved with rewards and incentives. 

To jump on this learning and development trend: 

  • Use microlearning platforms. Tools like Grovo and Axonify offer bite-sized learning content that's easily digestible and accessible on demand. These platforms cater to modern learners who prefer short and focused learning modules.
  • Explore gamified learning apps. A host of apps like Duolingo and Kahoot! incorporate game elements to make learning more engaging and enjoyable. They often feature quizzes, challenges, and rewards to incentivize participation and knowledge retention.
  • Try peer learning platforms. Degreed and NovoEd, among many others, encourage knowledge-sharing among employees. They facilitate collaboration and enable employees to create and share learning content with their colleagues.
Pro tip: Use your browser-based microlearning and gamified learning tools directly in Switchboard to learn side-by-side with your team, gain new skills together, and make teamwork the best part of work. 

Digital workplace trends: Stay competitive with more engaged, productive teams 

If your digital workplace strategy and tech needs an overhaul, it’s a great opportunity to incorporate some of the latest digital workplace trends. These can help you stay agile, competitive, and ready for the brave new world of work. 

Trends like generative AI are only the beginning, and shouldn’t detract you from other key trends. For example, using automation to free up time for more high-value tasks; the shift to asynchronous work; more in-context working; greater focus on employee wellbeing; and fewer, more meaningful meetings. Staying on top of these trends will help you avoid falling behind—and make you more attractive to top talent. 

Getting on the right trends involves signing up for the right tools. When you make a visual collaboration platform like Switchboard the basis of your tech stack, you can work more async and in context thanks to persistent, always-open rooms. These let you bring all your cross-functional apps, files, and teams together in real time or async to explore new digital workplace trends and get more done.   

Want to prioritize collaboration and stay competitive?  
Switchboard lets you bring all your tools, people, and projects together—and stay ahead of the game.
Learn more

Frequently asked questions about digital workplace trends

What is the most interesting trend in digital workplace technology right now?

The most interesting trend in digital workplace tech right now is the rise of generative artificial intelligence, and its ability to create content and spot data patterns in real-time. Generative AI is revolutionizing industries from graphic design to content creation to code writing, although it’s likely these will always need a human touch. 

What is a modern digital workplace?

A modern digital workplace is a digital office space that brings your team, tools, and projects together. 

With the integration of digital technologies, collaboration tools, and a flexible work environment, business leaders can enhance employee productivity, streamline communication and decision-making, and support the evolving needs of today's workforce. 

What are the digital collaboration trends in 2023?

The top digital collaboration trends in 2023 are: 

  • Automation will continue to free up worker's time
  • Generative AI will contribute to economic growth
  • There'll be increased demand for tech workers in every sector
  • Workflows and tools will need to encourage working in context
  • Teams will work more asynchronously 
  • We'll have fewer, more meaningful meetings
  • Leaders will need to focus even more on people and wellbeing
  • Organizations will rethink traditional training methods

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