Technology has dramatically altered what the modern workplace looks like. Even more so after 2020’s rapid shift to remote working models, employees have moved beyond the confines of the traditional office space and face-to-face interactions have given way to video conferencing and digital interactions through collaboration tools. But when anywhere work is a reality, how can technology help us define the role of the physical office in the modern workplace? If you’d like to learn about the positive benefits workplace technology and physical offices can play in employee experience, then read on!
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Modernized Technology and Physical Workplaces
While few companies at the start of 2020 could anticipate the necessity of quickly reorienting to provide a totally digital workplace experience, the shift to remote operations left many businesses with a question of what role the physical office would play in workplace experience. The solution may not be as simple as enacting a strict return to the office policy or continuing to offer the option for remote work.
The best means of moving forward is to reconsider how a business approaches its workplace experience, constructing an all-encompassing strategy that addresses not only the physical office but also the impact of technology, work culture, and employee expectations.
What is a Modern Workplace?
The modern workplace is defined by the set of technological, physical, and psychological conditions a company presents when a new employee joins their team. The specifics of the modern workplace should change overtime with the aim of achieving higher employee satisfaction, to optimize productivity and efficiency, while ensuring the needs of the business are met.
There is no time like the present for businesses to reconsider their workplace design, keeping in mind that in the workplace environment only represents a portion of the employee experience. While many surveys show employees expressing a preference for remote work options this may be informed by a desire to see changes in overall work culture. So before employers abandon their physical offices, it is important to consider the positive effect a physical workplace may bring to overall employee experience.
The Future of Physical Workplaces
Traditional office models are often deeply ingrained in many company cultures and the digital capability needed to allow remote work can be a real challenge if an organization’s infrastructure does not support this level of flexibility. Similarly, it would not help to re-configure the office space to promote flexible work if flexibility is not part of the company’s organizational culture and structure.
Consequently, reconsidering how office design supports workplace goals can help determine the right steps forward. Traditionally, working spaces have been assigned to support all of an employee’s activities. However, if an employee is not expected to work from a single location then it’s useful to consider how physical spaces can be repurposed.
Employees who perceive their physical workplace environment as a collaborative and flexible space are more likely be feel engaged and gratified by their work and will consequently be more loyal to the business. While collaboration and communication tools make virtualized teamwork possible, the physical office can serve either as a location for teamwork interactions or focused work hours. With the right tools, employees can decide what location works better for their team and decide together.
Always-on v. Anywhere Work
After a year of balancing life at home with a full work schedule, employees are hesitant to lose the flexibility and autonomy that remote work affords. In 2016, office furniture company Steelcase conducted a survey of more than 12,000 office workers in 17 countries which showed a clear relationship between the quality of the work environment and the efficiency and productivity of the team. To this end, Chron’s Jayne Thompson says, “It sounds counterproductive, but one of the best ways to increase productivity in the workplace is by backing off and encouraging employees to manage their own time and resources.”
A notable trend during 2020 was that many employees attempted to appear always-on, often overextending their availability to complete assignments which greatly increases the risk of burn-out. In contrast, an anywhere work model gives employees the flexibility to work where, when, and how they decide. Even in the physical workplace, flexibility over location and hours of work is crucial when creating workplace agility.
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5 Ways New Technology Has Affected the Modern Workplace
Creating a workplace experience that includes both a physical location while extending beyond the office is quite the challenge. Knowing the positive effects technological advancement can have on the workplace can help your business design the employee experience that works best for your organization.
1. Better employee experience: A strong workplace experience begins from onboarding and continues throughout the employee’s lifecycle. Advanced technology in the workplace like AI powered virtual assistants and digital coaching allows end users to quickly adopt new tools and processes, while services like DaaS (device as a service) or BYOD (bring your own device) ensure that employees are able to avoid downtime and work when they need. When employees see that they are given the tools to do their work effectively and improve professionally then they become more effective.
2. Increasing Productivity and Efficiency: In addition to employees being given more autonomy over their schedules, productivity tools, project management platforms, or time-tracking mobile apps provide employees with a realistic view of their own tasks and the time needed to complete them. Employees can then create task based work schedules that are more accurate to their responsibilities and can allocate tasks to other team members so everyone knows what they should be working on. Additionally, these tools reveal stumbling blocks in the work process and identify where time is being wasted.
3. Increased collaboration: Equipping your team with the right collaboration tools means communication is easier, there is a reduced likelihood of duplicated efforts, and tasks can be completed in less time. With web tools such as Google Docs, team members can collaborate on individual documents in real time regardless of physical location. Similarly, instant messaging and mobile apps such as Slack or WhatsApp enable workers to check-in at any time so that they are consistently informed and free to share ideas at their pace. These tools also serve to improve file storage, access, and retrieval, which leads to less time spent looking for the right files and paperwork. While there are many options for collaboration tools, it is best to pick one or two and stick with them to avoid confusion or missed messages.
4. Reduced Workplace Cost: While the cost of changes to company infrastructure can be substantial, in the long term innovative technological equipment and software are helping to reduce the costs associated with the workplace. The more obvious example of this is when an organization reduces physical office spaces after shifting to a remote work model. More often, lowered costs are the result of changes in behavior and the reduction of waste across an entire enterprise. Employees with optimized scheduling can dedicate more focused time to the tasks at hand, which in turn leads to a more productive company. Likewise, the tools that make remote work possible are more likely to help in the physical office by avoiding the high costs of hardware refresh as older devices are routinely replaced and updated.
5. Heightened cyber security: A significant concern for many enterprises is that as remote work becomes more prominent and an organization’s number of endpoints grows, it becomes that much more difficult to protect a company’s data. Implementing innovative technologies like cyber security mesh serves to protect against security breaches. In concert with strong protocols, engaged employees are more likely be aware of secure practices and how to report on instances when security has been breached.
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Realize the Positive Benefits of a Modernized Workplace with Stefanini!
Implementing digital transformation remains a large scale challenge that requires the careful examination of a company’s existing employee workflows and processes to create a transformation roadmap.
Stefanini is ready to bring the latest and best digital tools needed to boost your digital capabilities.
Our team of experts will examine your organization and use their knowledge to find the technology that meets your unique workplace concerns. Ready to get started?