As teams continue to adapt to hybrid and remote work, the past year has been all about finding ways to satisfy both company and employee needs, particularly in a market where workers face a low cost of switching jobs and a global job market. However, with the threat of an economic recession looming, layoffs and cost cutting mean companies have had to place more of their focus on helping distributed teams work more efficiently across the organization and in ways that will sustain long-term growth.
In this year’s report, we focus on three major trends that companies need to prepare for in order to thrive in 2023:
- Turning lean teams into dream teams
- Winning the race with sustainability and efficiency
- Cueing up cross-functional collaboration
To learn more about the topics most relevant to our readers, we surveyed nearly 1,500 professionals in more than 12 different job roles across 20+ industries. We also tapped into industry experts to gather up the most talked about topics and ideas.
Here’s what to watch for in 2023.
Trend 1: Turning lean teams into dream teams
From fitness and tech to apparel and automotive, companies across industries have faced workforce reductions over the past year due to changes to the economic climate.
With changes abound, many teams have had to continue doing the same amount of work, or even more, with less people — a sure recipe for burnout. “The disruptions to the labor market brought on by the pandemic continue to play out today,” notes NPR. “Workers are responding to burnout by striking, quitting and refusing to return to offices.”
And with companies already facing barriers around communication and lack of alignment in remote and hybrid work environments, a reduction in headcount only adds to the complexity.
InVision survey respondents report lack of communication, time zone differences, email overload, and remote collaboration issues as the top barriers they faced in 2022.
In addition, with 61% of respondents stating that they worked with new teams across the organization over the past year, finding better ways to connect employees — whether they’re in the office or working from home — is more important than ever.
In the upcoming year, organizations will also strive to overcome challenges around increasing alignment and visibility, working in a more agile way, and documenting both in-person and remote work sessions.
The top challenges companies face in 2023 include collaboration of in-office and work-from-home teams, ensuring equal representation of all teams, and increasing visibility from ideation through implementation.
Moving into 2023, the most successful companies won’t settle for doing more with less. Instead, they’ll follow the advice of Matt Hoffman, partner and head of talent at tech venture capital firm M13. “It’s not about doing more with less — it’s about how to get things done better with fewer people,” he states in a FastCompany article.
Look for companies to incorporate a mix of synchronous and asynchronous work to help them maximize the potential of pared-down teams. This means accommodating schedules by enabling people to work while their colleagues on the other side of the world sleep or team members are out sick. And gathering a wider range of ideas and perspectives in less time by making it easier for everyone to contribute, even if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up in a group setting.
“There’s good evidence that the dynamics of remote collaboration can actually encourage faster idea generation and more inclusive representation of voices that might feel intimidated to raise their points in an in-person environment,” said Forrester VP and Research Director James McQuivey.
“Fifty-two percent of companies report employees experience a sense of workplace loneliness. Knowledge workers are simply burned out. Async enables work to get done wherever, whenever while also providing human engagement we continually crave.” —Christina Nguyen White, Senior Director of Product Design, Loom
Trend 2: Winning the race with sustainability and efficiency
Business leaders around the world are bracing for an economic downturn which has prompted organizations to concentrate their efforts on sustainability and cost reduction. In fact, 53% of InVision survey respondents say their organization has a renewed focus on efficiency and sustainable growth.
And while tech spend is expected to stay strong in the coming year, savvy companies will be keeping a close watch on SaaS spend. According to Zylo, companies use more than 300 SaaS applications and overspend on licenses by 15% each year. Shadow IT, organizational silos, and lack of visibility across the SaaS stack contribute to skyrocketing software costs.
- 74% of InVision survey respondents use specialized software to do their jobs
- 60% say they’ve seen reduced budgets, restructuring and layoffs
In 2023, companies will look for ways to weather the economic storm by tightening their belts wherever they can. When it comes to software, they’ll look for apps that help their hybrid and remote teams work more efficiently across functions, communicate more clearly, and reduce time spent searching for information they need to do their jobs. The two most critical changes we’ll see are:
- A move toward tools that are easy for co-workers to adopt and collaborate in, instead of specialized tools that are only used by certain teams and departments.
- Consideration of cheaper alternatives. If a tool can do the same job at a significantly reduced cost, teams will consider making a switch in order to continue to collaborate effectively while meeting financial savings goals.
“The companies in a position to emerge from the economic crisis as industry leaders are the ones that have a realistic strategy for long-term growth — a strategy that will be good for their bottom line and their employees,” notes Forbes.
“Having a single source of truth makes it more efficient to get things done. No matter their role or stage in the process, anyone can jump into the Freehand canvas and get what they need.” —Kirti Bansal, Sr. Product Designer, AdvisorEngine
Trend 3: Cueing up cross-functional collaboration
Collaborating across teams has always been an important component of any company’s success. Cross-functional collaboration can help increase engagement, streamline work, boost innovation, and align your organization. As teams become more distributed, the ability to work across teams becomes even more critical — and challenging.
When teams go hybrid, silos get stronger. The reason? Teams translate their norms and routines into the technology they use, customizing it for their specific needs and infuse these features into daily work. This makes it harder to collaborate with colleagues who don’t use the same tools or follow the same processes.
Respondents to the InVision survey echo the challenge people face in working across tools and teams.
- 61% of respondents experience challenges in sharing or handing off work because it exists in a specialized tool
- 55% lack visibility into the work of others because they don’t have access to or aren’t familiar with the specialized tools other teams use
“You need to design your organization and technology stack to help cross-functional teamwork thrive,” notes Rebecca Hines, co-author of the study, A Distance Matters Paradox. “If you don’t, you’ll face an uphill climb in setting your teams up for success.”
In 2023, organizations will adopt collaboration strategies that facilitate changing workforces and help them reach their goals faster by removing red tape, bringing the right stakeholders to the table, and making it easier to share ideas and feedback across functions.
They’ll look to tools that are easy to use and enable smooth handoff of work between teams, as well as those that shorten feedback time and facilitate asynchronous work through features like embedded video to explain a document or project to remote co-workers. In fact, when asked to name the most important feature in a collaboration tool, 65% of respondents named ease of use and 58% said the tool should be accessible to all.
Many of the most common productivity tools such as Business Instant Messaging, Videoconferencing, and Office Suites are commonly rolled out company-wide, giving everyone access and leveling the playing field. This is enabled by cost-effective pricing with a low cost per seat or reasonable Enterprise Licencing Agreements. On the other hand, tools such as Visual Collaboration and Project Management are often priced at a premium per-seat and thus treated as a specialized tool. Despite being critical places to collaborate, access is restricted all too often.
“Getting non-technical, cross-functional stakeholders to be able to speak the same language in the same tool is really key.” —Stephanie Mencarelli, Senior Vice President of Design, InVision
Participants in the InVision survey predict that in the coming year, their teams will engage in more collaboration with common tools, increase asynchronous work, and better communicate across teams—especially designers and developers.
Finally, we asked participants: “how do you predict your organization will change the way teams collaborate in 2023?” Here’s what they said:
- “I believe we’ll have a slimmed-down approach to be leaner and get the work done.”
- “We’ll continue to work remotely but will invest in tools that help us collaborate better and more efficiently.”
- “We’re looking to double our headcount, so the challenge will be to create visibility and alignment among a growing team.”
- “I hope to see increased focus on creating a centralized roadmap to align project priorities and increase cross-team productivity.”
- “Remote work and competitive salaries will impact how we shape and grow our teams.”
- “I think we’ll work as pods of designers and developers, giving the organization a lot of movement and freedom.”
- “We’ll collaborate by building better leads and setting up goals and OKRs.”
This research is brought to you by InVision Freehand. The Visual Collaboration tool designed and priced to be used by your whole organization. Learn more about how Freehand improves how cross functional teams connect and do work together.