We are at a turning point in the evolution of the workplace.
The pervasiveness of social media combined with 24×7 technologies and the dropping costs of ubiquitous interconnectivity within the enterprise have given birth to a transformation of the traditional work environment.
Gone are the days: When you needed to search for an HDMI cable to project a presentation. When your boss expected you to be at your desk when she arrived in the morning and still there when she left at night. When you printed documents, took notes on them and then proceeded to store them in filing cabinets “just in case”.
Not only will you no longer be requested to print documents, you might not even find the printer. Nor will your boss expect to see you at your desk when she gets in; she may not expect to see you at the office at all.
“Smart”, “connected”, “modern experimental”, “coworking” – whatever adjectives you use to describe this new environment– welcome to the future of workplaces and the ways of working that will be transformed by them.
But before you start tearing down walls or hiring a designer, here are a few things you need to know about this trend:
- Paperless – Employees should be comfortable with the switch to a paperless way of working prior to losing their assigned desks and filing cabinets. This may also require acquiring new end-user tools that facilitate note taking or that allow users to edit and/or sign pdf documents, for example.
- Connectivity – In order to work in this type of environment, the ability to connect wirelessly to physical devices such as scanners, and to log in to any required applications via virtual workstations or SaaS solutions is key.
- Work from anywhere – By providing employees’ access to their applications through the Internet, they are able to work from anywhere. All applications should be accessible from mobile devices as well. Collaboration tools are essential to keep employees in touch and working efficiently.
- Common spaces – All spaces should be shared with few or no exceptions. Layout should be designed with this in mind, with an appropriate proportion designated for large and small meetings, work in isolation, collaboration and employee health/wellbeing. Change management will be most critical for helping employees adopt this aspect.
- Cost reduction –Shared spaces, combined with working from anywhere, is where companies see major cost savings, through the reduction in overall real estate expenses. Some companies have also seen dramatic cost savings from going paperless though the reduced number of printing devices and more importantly reduced filing and retention costs.
- Increased productivity – An environment adapted to the needs of the employees and conducive to collaboration has been shown[i], after a period of adjustment, to have positive effects on productivity.
- Employee engagement – Companies that have successfully implemented these new workplaces have seen a significant increase in employee engagement[ii].
- Making exceptions – Making too many exceptions to the shared space concept can lead to a “worst of both worlds” result and de-motivate those excluded. Resisting the temptation to give in to special requests from specific teams or a specific level of management will pay off in the end.
- Not trusting the employees – A big part of the prerequisite “Work from anywhere” requires managers to trust their resources are working even if they can’t see them. To help managers trust their employees, outcomes-based performance metrics and monitoring mechanisms must be put in place and maintained.
- Minimising technology & change management costs– Some companies are very quick to estimate the cost of renovations & new office furniture but underestimate I.T. investments and change management costs, or forget them completely.
- Trying to please everyone – Realize early on that you may lose some players. Not everyone enjoys working in an open, collaborative environment. If change management is done well, this can be minimized, but anticipate that there will still be some fall out from this cultural shift.
So before building a workspace transformation into your budgets for 2017, ask yourself if your company is ready for this change. This is the kind of change that is “all or nothing”. Imagine a space that has been designed taking into account that 25% of the company will not be in the office on any given day, and that the remaining 75% will be sharing common areas. Somehow, you start reserving offices for VPs, assigning desks to individuals or specific teams and then requesting everyone show up to the office everyday so that we know they are working. The result is overcrowded work areas and de-motivated employees.
If you do decide this technology trend is one that you can benefit from, ensure you budget for and involve a change management specialist early on – and don’t underestimate your technology investments to support the implementation.
For more information on technology trends for 2017, stay tuned for our Talsom’s Technology Radar Annual Report coming soon!
[i] The new rules of engagement, Hay Group
[ii] The new rules of engagement, Hay Group