ThinkLab and the BBC – Envisioning the Future of Work (March 2023 – Present)

ThinkLab and BBC are working on a brand new research project on the future of work. How do platforms such as Teams and Zoom impact community and collaboration?

Project Overview

The BBC and the University of Cambridge ThinkLab have launched a joint research project to explore the benefits, challenges, and pitfalls of using digital platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams for digital community building. The project will also focus on examining the importance of inclusive alternatives (i.e., the metaverse) in fostering a sense of community among virtual members. The research will enable organisations and individuals to develop a more nuanced understanding of digital platforms and their ability to help foster meaningful connections and collaboration in the digital world.

As many organisations identify and develop their approaches to a ‘hybrid’ working future, the need to maintain a sense of community and belonging across geographically dispersed teams has become a challenge.  Typically, the response has been directed toward existing digital platforms to offer this community experience for colleagues, which historically have been used in tandem with office-based working, to share ideas, knowledge and offer a conversational platform.  

However, as organisations increasingly lean on these platforms as a means of creating collaborative, co-design community environments, often in lieu of office-based interaction, are these platforms merely assumed to offer the inclusive, equitable platform in which all employees can collaborate? While these platforms — take for example, Microsoft Teams or Zoom — offer benefits, might they also present challenges and pitfalls that can hinder community building efforts?  Why might employers assume these platforms to be inclusive, equitable environments in which everyone can contribute?  The BBC and the University of Cambridge ThinkLab have teamed up yet again to address these questions in detail and explore how digital platforms can be leveraged to bolster community building and collaboration.


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