Imagination can run wild when thinking about the workplace of the future and what it may look like, but for many of us, the future of work is already here. Particularly when technologies like cloud, social, mobility, and video collaboration are enabling so many organizations to work in ways never seen before.
Across the region, Asia-Pacific businesses and Governments continue to invest in transforming their workplaces to remain competitive in the digital era. Recently, the Australian Federal Government announced it will invest $350 million from 2017-18 on a range of digital transformation initiatives. It intends to modernize, transform, and enhance the productivity of agency ICT systems, as well as training staff members in digital skills.
For me, the workplace of the future is about making businesses more productive while also making employees more collaborative and more satisfied with their jobs. It’s the blending of technologies and workspace that shifts the emphasis from focusing on ‘how do we wire this building?’ to ‘how do we wire our people?’ However, even with all the amazing technology advances and bandwidth no longer the ‘problem child’ it used to be, there are still challenges to overcome when it comes to digital transformation.
CIOs as Technology Evangelists and Master Storytellers within the C-Suite
Let us face it, resistance to change and being drawn to what’s familiar is human nature. The same can often apply to our technology preferences; a recent Gartner 2017 CEO Survey highlighted an expectation gap among CEOs regarding which type of technologies will best achieve their desired productivity gains. The survey shows that Asia-Pacific chief executives expect productivity in their organizations to increase by 24 percent by the end of 2018, with revenue – cited by 26 percent of respondents – and profitability (15 percent) named as the top two metrics of success. However, when it comes to achieving those productivity gains, CEOs believe conventional technologies like cloud will help them, rather than newer technologies that support digital transformation. While cloud may be considered conventional by early adopters, it still has a significant role to play in helping businesses take that first all-important step when considering newer technologies and environments. It may also be a low risk way to introduce the CEO to what’s possible in the workplace of the future.
Either way, successful CIOs will be those who can undertake the role of technology evangelist within the C-Suite: becoming effective storytellers, educating their CEO about the potential of newer transformational technologies, and how they will connect the dots to achieve business goals.
Successful CIOs will be those who can undertake the role of technology evangelist within the C-Suite
This will also mean finding innovative ways to show the CEO what’s possible beyond using comfort zone tools like email. For example, demonstrating how intelligent collaboration solutions can work together to create more agile, activity based working environments, or explaining how 21st century technologies such as collaboration, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) can play a significant role in the company’s digital transformation journey.
Keeping Up with the Demands of a Flexible Workforce
Another issue CIOs face today is, how to best satisfy the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce who want the flexibility to collaborate and remain productive from just about anywhere.
Polycom recently undertook a global study that explored the future of anywhere, anytime working, and the impact technology is having on both employee behavior and workplace culture. An overwhelming 98 percent of all respondents believed that anywhere working has a positive impact on productivity and almost two thirds of the global working population is currently taking advantage of flexible working practices.
While interacting with our customers, it’s clear that keeping it simple is often key. For me, the smartest technologies are those that keep pace in accordance with user-working demands.
Five Key Tips for Improving Productivity within Your Workplace Today
The following tips will help you transform or actively plan your organization’s journey:
1. Measuring the uptake and utilization of existing collaboration tools can help you discover quick win opportunities for improved productivity gains, e.g. number of team video conferencing meetings held in a week.
2. Establish current collaboration usage and combine this with a strategy to address issues (such as the availability and type of tools, adoption programs, or workflows), team-collaboration can improve with training - at home, on the go, in a small huddle space, or larger meeting room.
3. Choose a solution that is easy to use. Video collaboration adoption requires systems to be easy to use and manage, while delivering a consistent, great experience anywhere, and on any platform.
4. Integrate and streamline for easy usage and quick adoption. Users need new collaboration technologies to be integrated with popular communication platforms like Microsoft Office 365 and normal day-to-day workflows. Choose solutions that are interoperable and provide secure access regardless of location, network, or device.
5. Work with your IT Team to update Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies to accommodate the needs of flexible workers and contract staff, to ensure they remain productive and connected regardless of location. Involve HR where needed to ensure flexible working is inclusive to all.
A Look at the Future
Perhaps ironically, the more advanced technology becomes, the more we become immersed in it – while at the same time, and the more we crave human interaction. You can’t automate real-life face-to-face contact, nor would you want to, but we can make technology more intuitive, natural, and personal - so using it is as easy as breathing! For me, solutions that make technology more human and are easy to use, deploy, and operate will ultimately win, when it comes to digital transformation and the workplace of the future.