Companies need a unified collaboration approach rather than more solutions.

In 2013, serial entrepreneur Toni Lopresti and a few friends founded Intellinote, an enterprise software company based in Richmond, VA. Tony and I recently got together to talk workplace productivity and team collaboration. In our interview, he discusses the evolving role of email, communication, and what companies can do to boost overall productivity in the workplace.

Tony, where do you see workplace collaboration heading in 2015 and beyond?

The modern workforce is embracing lightweight, easy-to-use software tools that can be used anywhere, anytime. I fully expect workspace collaboration tools to support this paradigm too. Complex and unwieldy solutions will continue to fall out of favor with businesses going forward.

How do you think our methods of business communication are changing?

Unified communications will continue to gain significant traction in 2015 and beyond. Business users are unhappy with the fragmented nature of communications – spread across email, messaging applications, video conferencing solutions, etc. They will look to unify and bring business communications together. This approach will make meetings, discussions and conversation, which often result in valuable insights and to-dos, more actionable. Fewer things will slip through the cracks.

What should companies do to improve employee collaboration?

Collaboration has both a physical aspect and a virtual aspect. On the physical front, companies need to keep an eye on the evolving science of open offices and floor plans to determine what’s best for their teams. On the virtual front, where software has a major role to play, companies owe it to themselves and their employees to foster collaboration. A sensible approach is to use tools that capture and organize business content that’s created by employees on a daily basis, that turn static content into actionable content with a click, and that consolidate their typical 6+ specialized collaboration tools into a single platform.

What should companies consider in 2015 to boost overall productivity?

They should make knowledge sharing easier. Most employees and teams have a tremendous amount of cumulative experience and like to share it with their teams if the barriers to doing so are low or non-existent. Companies that encourage such sharing reap rich rewards in the form of increased employee engagement and higher levels of overall productivity.

Okay, now let’s talk email. Will it help more than it hurts in 2015?

The problem with email is not email itself, but how people use it. Designed and still meant as a communication tool, email is today used for everything from project management to file sharing to distributing HR documents. But if email were used primarily as a communication tool, then it would boost productivity significantly and cease to be a distraction.

So do you think companies will be more open to new forms of workplace communication?

I don’t think new forms of communication will necessarily be more successful; unified forms of communication are likely to yield better performance in my opinion.

Thanks, Tony!