Since it was first uttered some 470 years ago, people have been using the phrase “two heads are better than one” to describe the positive impact collaboration can have on our productivity ̶ and for good reason. Ryota Kanai and Michael Banissy reported in their 2010 Scientific American article, Are Two Heads Better Than One? It Depends, on test results that showed, when allowed to communicate freely, collaborators could, indeed, combine information to reach a level of productivity and performance that was not achievable individually.
Knowledge workers, also known as programmers, web designers, engineers, and scientists, have long used collaboration to improve productivity and speed performance. Working in an office environment, knowledge workers utilize in person meetings or video conferencing for collaboration because face-to-face communication is more efficient, allowing them to talk, see and share with one another in real-time, as part of their normal workflow.
As John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison noted in their 2010 Harvard Business Review article, Are All Employees Knowledge Workers, however, frontline workers in what appear to be highly routine roles, such as service, construction, manufacturing and transportation, are also problem-solvers whose productivity benefits from collaboration. Companies are finding that enhancing collaboration for workers, such as these, is the key to increasing productivity, reducing costs, and improving quality throughout the organization.
As with workers in an office environment, successful collaboration for frontline workers relies on free flowing, real-time video communication to allow them to share thoughts, ideas and concepts. And, the video communication must be available whenever and wherever the collaborators are, in the plant, in the field, across the state, or across time zones; organizations are geographically distributed, workers are mobile, and their collaboration tools need to support this new reality.
Which brings us to the importance of broadband PTT and streaming video. Workers on the frontline aren’t sitting in a meeting, in a video conference room, or at a desk, so they need a solution that allows them to walk and talk and collaborate without disrupting their normal workflow. By integrating streaming video in a single push-to-talk application, frontline workers have a tool that brings the robustness of face-to-face communications to remote collaboration. Utilizing streaming video along with voice in a single, instantaneous communications session, makes it possible for users that need to walk and talk while collaborating to still increase clarity, enhance contextual understanding, and exchange real-time feedback while they work.
For example, an HVAC installation team at a customer site needs assistance with the startup procedure for an air conditioning system with a new central controller. This is the first time the new controller is being installed and the instructions in the field manual aren’t working. The crew supervisor uses broadband PTT and streaming video to communicate with an engineer at headquarters, showing the engineer, in real time, the difficulties encountered when they follow the procedure. As a result, the engineer is able to quickly identify the problem and communicate a correction to the supervisor. By using broadband PTT with streaming video to collaborate, the time to correct the mistake is reduced, a second site visit is avoided, and the productivity of the crew increased.
In summary, there’s no doubt that, in harnessing their collective knowledge, workers can create better products, more efficient processes, and an overall safer and more productive work environment. What’s also clear is that effective collaboration cannot take place without free flowing, interactive video communications. Only with broadband PTT and streaming video, can companies, organizations, and agencies get information where it’s needed, to those on the frontline so they can continue to “get stuff done” with greater speed and efficiency than ever before.