Culture, Trends & Stories

Virtual Workspaces: What Does Collaborative Manufacturing Look Like In A Post Pandemic World 

As industries, around the world, normalise working from home, we're heading into an era of drastic technological change. But how do such changes impact the world of manufacturing?

July 9, 2021
Written by
Maryam Yermak

Companies and trade shows are adopting a hybrid approach while industries, around the world, are normalising working from home. With these changes and the continued tech advances in artificial intelligence (AI), immersive technologies, and machine learning (ML), here is a guide that examines some of the trends that could shape the future of workplace collaborations.

Asynchronous Collaboration Increases Overall Productivity

PwC reported that 70% of U.S. workers want to work remotely even after the pandemic. Today, companies all over the world are focusing their efforts and investing in tools to improve remote working experiences in order to increase productivity. In other words, remote working is here to stay.

Zoom meetings, Slack, Notion, Google Workspace, Dropbox, and Zoom Meetings are some of the examples of enterprise tools that enable employees to collaborate from different parts of a city, country, and even the world. This is known as asynchronous collaboration. Employees can respond to emails, edit documents, as well as complete tasks at their own pace and in their own time.

As Forbes magazine reports, the rate of productivity during asynchronous collaboration has improved noticeably. Synchronous collaboration disrupts the productivity rate because of the calendar full of meetings, constant messaging, employee burnout, and low-quality discussions during corporate meetings. When working asynchronously, employees are under less pressure, spend more time on deep work, and produce more thoughtful responses. Thus, they manually create deadlines for themselves and feel ownership over the tasks they have performed.

Deep work refers to the ability to focus without distractions on a challenging task. It allows you to quickly grasp and comprehend complex information and results in better performance in less time. 

Remote Working Improves Creativity

As synchronous collaboration requires an immediate response, solidified deadlines, and an overwhelming flow of information, it can be challenging to process tasks effectively. We have found that while collaborating asynchronously, employees are more likely to produce more creative and well-thought responses. Since employees do not need to give an immediate response, they can take their time to think about them.

Remote Working Eliminates Workplace Pressure

When everyone is connected, there is an ongoing pressure of being in the loop with everyone. The everlasting Zoom meetings can cause burnout. Employees who have different collaboration styles may experience difficulties in the way they contribute to conversations. Further, the face-to-face nature of the workplace results in social pressure on employees. By collaborating asynchronously, employees will not feel obligated to be online all the time and pressured into responding immediately. They can dive deeper into the work they are responsible for and spend time on generating creative ideas without the need to be available all the time.

What Can We Expect In A Post-Pandemic World?

Businesses with employees scattered across the globe have been collaborating asynchronously for years before the COVID-19 Pandemic; what the pandemic did was give it a big push and make it an extended trial. There are pros and cons to every collaboration style on different levels. As with anything, finding a balance between the two of them is important, since a seamless blend can greatly benefit businesses.

Cobots: Your AI-Powered Work Buddy

We have two words for you: collaborative robots. Even though artificial intelligence is growing rapidly, it does not mean that robots will replace human labour - we are not quite there yet. But how might it feel to have a co-worker powered by artificial intelligence?

Cobots perform tasks alongside a human workforce, easing their responsibilities. By 2027, a quarter of the robot market will be made up of cobots, according to market forecasts. So, the future workplace will be supported by robots to perform repetitive tasks, analyse opportunities, and scheduling appointments. This will help to simplify everyday responsibilities and allow employees to focus on knowledge-intensive tasks and decision-making.

AI For Manufacturers

Automation plays a key role in the manufacturing industry. Numerous businesses are already using cobots to augment their workforce. Automobiles, electronics, medical and cosmetics, education and science, food and beverage, have already started "hiring" cobots. In the long run, they increase effectiveness, productivity, accuracy, quality, and reduce costs.

AI For Knowledge-Intensive Companies

"We’ll see the collaboration wars between Zoom, Microsoft, and. The winners will focus on being AI-first, which will enhance productivity and the user experience”- Muddu Sudkahar, the CEO and co-founder of Aisera

Aisera uses artificial intelligence to integrate with your systems across multiple channels, such as ticketing, knowledge bases, monitoring, identity management, and to automatically resolve incoming requests and issues. It improves employee, customer and agent experiences. The main features of this platform are:

  1. Knowledge Extraction & Resolution 
  2. Conversational AI 
  3. Process Orchestration & Automation 
  4. Handling Customer Requests from multiple catalog services 
  5. Automated AI learning 

Aisera's conversational AI
Aisera's conversational AI

While having these features, Aisera also makes certain processes much easier:

  1. Upon entering keywords, Aisera integrates all the files in a big knowledge vase, which makes it easy to search for anything
  2. It helps with third-party purchases and handling customer inquiries 
  3. Detects customer sentiment and escalates to better serve customers and to know when to connect them with agents
  4. Lets you create diagrams and workflows without any technical knowledge 

Aisera's keyword capabilities

These all and many more can be checked on their website!

Virtual Reality: A Promise Or A Gimmick?

Virtual reality (VR) is one of the exciting things in the gaming industry, where people can create avatars and communicate with each other in an alternate world. However, the purpose of virtual reality software is expanding rapidly. We recommend you take a look at Mozilla Hubs– virtual rooms where people can watch videos, play with 3D objects, talk using headphones, text, and generally experience virtual reality with friends.

How does it affect the future of collaboration?

Well, in the course of current VR trends, virtual rooms such as Mozilla Hubs can be used to design an office setting. Thus, employees can use it to collaborate in the same working environment while being home. It will provide a new experience of collaboration other than the usual Zoom video-conferencing. They can use their headsets and AR devices to simulate their workplaces, meet co-workers, and brainstorm ideas

Apart from that, VR has been used for 3D mock-up of the space, where designers can simultaneously modify their interior designs and even show them to the customers on a VR tour. Engineers use VR to more accurately visualise robotic projects and run simulations.

Here is an interesting video prepared by the Wall Street Journal for you to get an inside look into the possibilities!

Augmented Reality Hits The Mark

In contrast to Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality lets you interact with your real-world by overlaying it with virtual elements. The use of AR devices allows employees to better brainstorm ideas, go through training without any assistance, interact with large operating systems, and improve customer relationships.

IKEA
is using an AR application to give customers a look at how their products would look in their home setting. Famous make-up brands like Sephora let their customers virtually try on their make-up. Electronic conglomerates like Apple are using AR to give customers a look at colour variations of their devices and allow customisation.

The startup Spatial is bringing the benefits of in-person collaboration to the virtual world. Spatial offers a virtual reality platform that lets co-workers collaborate in 3D virtual workspaces. Realising that the Zoom fatigue is real, companies like Mattel, BNP Paribas, Enel Group have been collaborating by using Spatial.

Something to read:
You can find out more by clicking on this link and reading an article written by MIT News!

Conclusion

The way people communicate has changed dramatically over the last two years, and it will continue to change after the pandemic. Through automation, connectivity will be enhanced, productivity will increase, costs will be reduced, and more jobs will be created. INQOVA strives to remain at the forefront of the textile manufacturing industry and brings up-to-date trends in digitisation. Get the latest updates about current trends and find out how to improve your business's collaboration by signing up for our newsletter in the footer.