Is your business offering the technologies it needs to, to help employees work and feel better?
The nature of the organisation is changing – from how work is done, to where it’s done – and the nature of this evolution has consequences for workers and the workplace.
Gain and maintain the competitive advantage by conquering market pressures and mastering technological breakthroughs to serve the varying needs of a multi-generational workforce with consumer technologies: Business game-changers for employees – both in-and-out of the office.
“People leave smart homes and drive smart cars into offices that, for the most part, offer little in terms of technology to help them work and feel better,” says Rebecca Charbauski, senior communications specialist at US-based furniture company Steelcase. “Technology, thoughtfully integrated in the physical environment, holds the promise to make people’s work experience more human centred.”
The world around your employees is changing – isn’t it time you offered flexible hours, collaborative workspaces, useful technological tools to get the job done from anywhere they choose, and a reason to stay with your company, because they like it there?
1. Offer alternative workspaces
While the end of central offices isn’t near, the traditional idea of what they should look like and how they should function is evolving.
“We are already witnessing the diversification of traditional corporate offices to other alternatives: Non-assigned workspaces, completely mobile furniture systems with wireless voice and data connections, dispersed satellite offices, and traditional telecommuting,” says Joe Aki Ouye, co-founder and partner of New Ways of Working.
Workplaces and workstyles are in continual evolution and as new trends infiltrate at the grassroots level, larger companies – such as yours – will have to adapt to what’s popular and viable over the coming years.
Multinational corporation, Cisco introduced collaboration tools and increased employee mobility to create an integrated workforce experience for its 70 000-strong global workforce. Through programmes including a connected workspace, wiki, c-vision and video blogs, expertise locator, sales productivity, remote collaboration and telecommuting, Cisco recorded a total of USD1.052B in net benefits.
2. Increase flexibility in the workday
Deloitte found that even though salary is still on top, work flexibility—when, where and how you work—is an increasingly prominent consideration.
Rapid advances in technology allow people to work anywhere, anytime—which has led to people working everywhere, all of the time. It’s clear that the old paradigm, one person working almost exclusively in one individual workspace, does not support the ways people are working today.
Your business will have to offer less traditional ways of working and more flexibility to attract and retain their best talent. Consider Netflix’s no vacation policy, where employees can have as many vacation days as they feel they need – the catch is that ‘freedom and responsibility’ is expected to be practised. This strategy, along with allowing employees to structure their own compensation packages, has driven excellence within the company by a highly talented and motivated workforce.
DID YOU KNOW?
Technology has broken down the walls between home and the workplace, a phenomenon that even spills over into vacation time. Being truly “out of office” happens less and less, thanks to mobile devices that let us take the office along with us and stay connected from anywhere. – Adrianne Bibby of telecommuting website FlexJobs.
3. Facilitate technologies and collaboration tools
The extension of tools capable of communicating, storing, and managing shared data to cheaper and more ubiquitous devices is the main change from the workplace of yesteryear. Round the clock access to work and information, and communication with colleagues is only a smartphone swipe or mouse click away.
As teams become more scattered across multiple time zones and workers juggle several teams and projects, the need for video and audio conferencing, data sharing, instant messaging, presence detection, availability status, reputation, and knowledge capture increases.
While collaborative technologies are fine for exchanging formal knowledge, they don’t work well to help you get to know colleagues on a personal level. Take a page out of IBM’s Beehive Social Network strategy, designed to assist IBM employees meet the challenge of building the relationships vital to working in large, distributed enterprises.
4. Combat plummeting employee engagement
Research from Steelcase and global research firm Ipsos found that over a third of workers in 17 of the world’s most important economies are disengaged – the most highly disengaged workers are also the most unsatisfied with their work environments.
“They did not feel a sense of control over where and how they work,” according to the study. When your office is designed with a strong focus on uniformity, it doesn’t give employees a sense of empowerment to choose from diverse spaces. This requires agility and resilience to be carried out.
In addition to choosing how and where to work, employees need to develop good social skills, necessary for:
Team work and collaboration
Conflict resolution and negotiation skills are essential to collaborative work. Team members with good negotiation skills are better equipped to deal openly with problems, to understand different perspectives, and to resolve issues in mutually beneficial ways.
Relationship development and networking
When workers trust one another, they’re more committed to attaining mutual goals. Sharing important information, fulfilling promises, willingness to be influenced, and listening are building blocks of reciprocity and the development of trust, and they’re more likely to help one another through difficulties, and more willing to share and develop new ideas.
Learning and growth
Many companies strive to create conditions in which employees learn not only through formal training but through relationships with co-workers. Joint problem solving, insight sharing, learning from mistakes, and working closely together encourage implicit knowledge. Mentoring between newcomers and those with experience also develops learning.
Keep up with the digital revolution by ensuring your employees have access to, or the option of: