Four Essentials to a Modern Workplace
Building a Modern Workplace is not a nice-to-have. It is a must-have.
The nature of ‘work’ has changed. Consequently, the nature of ‘workplace’ too, has changed. How work is done continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The workplace must remain aligned as the nature of work evolves. The modern workplace has evolved significantly over the last decade, and it will continue to evolve at great pace over the coming decade. Geographically dispersed teams, large contractor pools constituting the workforce, novel business models, fast-paced disruption, highly complex security issues etc. The modern workplace is affected by a plethora of factors. It must be fluid and flexible to keep up with the rate of change. Traditional ways of working are no longer practical and are not conducive to conducting modern-day business effectively and efficiently. The modern workplace needs to support the modern paradigm of work. The Modern Workplace must blend Lifestyle with Workstyle, and measure productivity rather than time.
How work was conducted in former times is rather different from how work is conducted today. Today’s workplace needs to meet the demands of today’s nature of work. The old, rigid way of thinking cannot cater for nor compete in today’s world. The workplace of decades ago was physical. The workplace of today is digital. The workplace is not necessarily a corporate office in the city or an industrial park. The workplace is not necessarily a cubicle either. It is where the mobile worker is. It is at an airport kiosk. It is at a coffee shop. It is commuting on a train. It is on a mobile phone on a Saturday morning while children are playing Saturday sport.
The modern workplace is 24×7. It is not tied to an address or a device. It is scalable, agile and quick to adapt to an ever-changing environment. With competition being rife, businesses need to be able to scale quickly to remain competitive. Fundamentally, the modern workplace establishes a culture of change and innovation, achieving breakthroughs more fluidly and adapting to technological advances rapidly.
Defining the modern workplace is not an easy feat. It is as fast-changing as technology. However, at its core, the modern workplace offers collaboration for employees to work wherever and whenever. Thus, promoting distributed teams, with emerging technology at the helm of such cooperation.
The modern workplace is deviating from email being the central mode of written communication. More collaborative applications (such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Whatsapp) have surfaced. Non-traditional workspaces have become the norm of how the office space is now structured. The 9 to 5 workday also has given way to a more flexible amalgamation of work and personal priorities around the clock. Employees wish to work when they want and where they want on whichever device they want. IT departments must ensure that these wishes are catered for. They need to provide the applications, technology and underlying infrastructure that help improve the employee experience. In order for IT to deliver a modern experience to employees, the function itself needs to be modernised.
Today’s workplace is not merely about the customer. It is equally about the employee and how they can adapt, innovate and enable this new way of working.
So, what does it mean to have a modern workplace? What traits do modern workplaces share?
The modern workplace is:
- Available anytime – the workforce must have access to work applications 24×7 because the modern workforce works at a time that suits its professional and personal demands on time
- Available anywhere – the workforce must have access to work applications from anywhere because the workplace is no longer confined to a physical address or a cubicle
- Available on any device – the workforce today works from an assortment of devices; PCs at work, laptops/notebooks in meetings, Tablets on the go and mobile phones round the clock. Modern workplaces cater for this. There is an expectation that the user experience will be consistent across all devices.
- Seamless – the workforce today seeks and expects uninterrupted connectivity.
Modern workplaces bring people, technology and processes closer together. This helps a business become more efficient and more effective. In the modern workplace, digital first-world practices are adopted and embraced, which becomes a source of competitive advantage.
For businesses that are commencing the modern workplace journey, it is critical to determine the primary business requirements upfront, as these will dictate where to start to adopt a modern workplace.
A modern workplace ensures that internal systems and business practices alike cater to improving interactions with customers, partners and employees. Through the use of innovative technology, modern workplaces streamline and automate procedures to ensure that productivity is enhanced. But a modern workplace is not just about technology. From an employee standpoint it is about User Experience (UX). From an organisational perspective, it is about employee productivity, which helps the business save money and increase revenue. Furthermore, modern workplaces are connected, and this deep and wide connection assists employees from social communities while at work and enhance loyalty and retention.
We are frequently asked by businesses as to what factors must they consider while implementing a modern workplace. Although several factors come into play, we would like to share some pertinent ones with you:
Employees are no longer willing to be confined to a cramped office space. They don’t see the workplace as a physical space. They don’t see it as a work address. They don’t see it as their cubicle either. They require flexibility and the ability to operate from anywhere at any time. They also often work on several projects which have different demands on their time. The complexities of modern work require a highly mobile work environment for the workforce to deliver on professional goals.
Today’s mobile workforce requires access to corporate applications and technology. These applications must be easy to use, secure and accessible from anywhere, at any time, on any relevant device. Most people in the corporate workforce have a smart device or two. It is vital for businesses to invest in enterprise mobility for employees to be able to share critical data and interact with clients, partners and colleagues in real-time. Employees need access to modern devices and applications. These devices are particularly essential for professionals who spend time out of the office.
Enterprise mobility offers flexible working systems and practices and aims to bring 24/7 connectivity between employees and the business. The marketplace today is fiercely demanding. Customers demand more from organisations. Employees need a mobile work environment to meet customer demands.
The competitive landscape too is fiercer. The new landscape demands that companies are more agile and responsive. As such, employees need to be connected from any device, anywhere, to be able to deal with customer queries. Businesses need to embrace enterprise mobility solutions as the gateway to productivity.
Creativity must not be confined to the physical workplace. Promoting new ideas and new ways of doing things comes from employees who are excited and motivated. Our thinking around how to deliver a modern working environment must be expanded beyond the physical premises of an organisation, to include a cutting-edge mobile environment.
The advent of technology allows businesses to share information, access company data from any device, at any time, and stay connected 24/7. In the modern workplace, the benefits of enterprise mobility are endless, but the most important aspects are that it:
- Raises the productivity of employees.
- Improves service levels and consequently, customer engagement.
- Helps improve and the handling of tasks efficiently.
Enterprise mobility embraces the mobile trend adopted by the modern workplace and keeps employees highly productive. Ensuring that end-users have an excellent user experience (UX) needs to be a top priority. When the UX is high-grade, staff are typically more productive and utilise technology to the fullest advantage wherever they are. When workplace applications, data, self-service tools and useful services are accessible, staff feel more empowered and appreciate IT dept. services much more.
Communication and Collaboration
A modern workplace is the new median and caters for employees distributed across different workspaces, often working remotely, sometimes in a highly collaborative environment, engaging with colleagues across different time zones, and at other times working in a silo, with little engagement and interaction with each other.
Businesses need to deliver ways for employees to better communicate and collaborate. Doing this allows them to share information and encourages collegiality at all levels. The new normal of modern workplaces includes every department: HR, Operations, IT, Sales, Marketing, Accounting etc. working together, in unison, collaboration and with a common goal orientation.
The most significant barrier to change is people, and for a modern workplace to be successful, the needs, motivations and desires of people need to be the frames of reference. As such, communication and collaboration are vital for human-centred thinking.
Communication is about sharing information, while collaboration is about sharing the outcome or result. Communication methodology includes three sections: an inner loop, an outer loop and an open loop.
- An inner loop: provides for the entire team with which an employee regularly works;
- An outer loop: includes the rest of the business; and
- An open-loop includes everyone else – the customers, outsourced vendors and people outside the company.
For businesses to master collaboration, they need to choose the right collaboration technology stack that works with the appropriate communication methodology. Doing this means finding the right technology to service the specific inner, outer and open-loop communication for communication and collaboration to be effective.
When choosing the right stack, organisations must consider:
- Interconnectivity – tools that work cohesively and integrate easily;
- Accessibility – tools that are available on different devices;
- Reliability – tools that function even if there is a connectivity issue; and
- Adoption – tools that employees would find easy to use.
To ensure good collaboration and communication is valid, there are specific steps that are taken to encourage such modern workplace behaviour. These :
- Management leading by example
- Set goals to foster technology use
- Celebrate attaining team goal milestones
- Incentivise the team
For this to be effective, businesses need to ensure that employees have the right communication and collaboration tools such as content sharing, shared calendars and high-definition video for teams to stay in-sync.
Creating a data-driven culture is no longer an option. It is a necessity. Successful CIOs will attest to the fact that customers now demand a more engaging customer experience (CX). CX is now a core driver for digital transformation. Data can help to uncover customer expectations, analyse market trends and highlight growth opportunities.
Segregated data, sitting in a variety of formats (such as spreadsheets, word documents, CRM applications, ERP applications, digital post-it notes, etc.) is difficult to analyse. Consequently, it is difficult to leverage any value or benefit.
The modern workplace relies on data to provide valuable insights. These insights are then translated into vital information to enhance productivity, efficiency and consequently, effectiveness. Data-driven decisions, driven by collaboration, serve as a platform for innovation, scale and flexibility.
However, a data-driven culture is not something that you can import or arrive at with immediacy. It is cultivated over time. Promoting a data-driven culture is not a scientific, rather an iterative process.
To become a data-driven organisation, business leaders need to:
- Establish what they want to achieve. Align the overall business strategy with data goals. These goals then need to be communicated to the broader business.
- Make data available across all business units to ensure cohesion. Limiting data to select teams creates silos and limits visibility.
- Keep experimenting to find new data trends and evolve data practices accordingly. The market is in constant flux and businesses need to follow suit.
- Preserve the data you have and remember as the volumes of data increase, you must conserve data accuracy, security and integrity.
- Map data-driven initiatives with direct deliverables. Doing this will impact customer behaviour and drive conversions.
A data-driven workforce can identify immediate needs in the digital customer experience by analysing customers’ buying trends. Additionally, the organisation can find best practices to empower employees across all divisions to enhance their customer service offering.
The modern workplace operates without interruption, meaning that securing against inadvertent data loss, malicious software or deliberate attacks is pivotal. Compromising data security can be detrimental to a business, in that:
- Business transactions are compromised or completely shutdown.
- Fines/penalties can occur for company officers.
- Legal implications can arise out of civil suits by customers who fell victim to privacy data loss.
- Brand and reputational damage can hinder growth.
Securing data is a non-negotiable for the modern workplace as the number of touchpoints potentially vulnerable to attack is increasing. Cyber threats are not just external; they stem from internal errors as a result of employees who access company information through multiple endpoints – from cloud-connected terminals to smartwatches. Employees inadvertently engage in practices that compromise security. These practices include:
- Sharing passwords or computers with other employees.
- Keeping passwords visible (i.e. writing them on notes).
- Using workplace devices for personal email and social media.
- Emailing confidential information.
- Opening attachments from unreliable sources.
Secure data management tips include:
- Increase data security posture through Multi-Factor Authentication. To access confidential information requires another form of proof of identity (e.g. Smartphone identity app, 6-digit code, answer to key questions) As a minimum, all access to company IT resources should require unique passwords or PINs.
- Introduce Data Leak Prevention technology to prevent staff from inadvertently sending confidential data to unauthorised recipients.
- Don’t forget Printers should not be left unmonitored. As such, businesses should adopt pull-printing functionalities, meaning, employees can only release printing when they’re physically present at the device and after authentication.
- Regulate access to the Internet/Cloud using secure access brokers and whitelisting.
- Limit connectivity options on devices.
- Provide simple security awareness training to staff
The modern workplace ensures that data is always secure and comes with its own set of unique security processes. Managing users’ identities is fundamental, and authenticating such user is key to security. Additionally, security policies can be enforced to monitor and control user behaviour proactively. As the threat landscape continuously evolves, security must keep in step and updated regularly.
Modern workplace management is not an all-or-nothing prospect. Any business can adopt components of the environment based on business requirements. By leveraging cloud access control mechanisms, modern workplace becomes more accessible and safer. The modern workplace enables a business to respond quickly to industry and economic changes and supports a collective effort of all employees to innovate ahead of competitors. A modern workplace is about a shift in culture and enables a business to incrementally improve its processes by aligning people, process and technology. The modern workplace taps into what their employees want and invest in such changes.
Moreover, businesses need to research the capabilities of various technologies and products to turn their business into a modern workplace. Tailoring to the needs of the company is imperative and requires a team effort to succeed. A robust IT strategy backed by a reliable partner is a necessary pillar for success for companies that wish to become a modern workplace. An IT strategy will help with planning, solution implementation, end-user training and adoption.
Experteq specialise in transforming IT environments into a Modern IT Workplace, where people can work anywhere, on any device, at any time. Modern technology users want a choice on where and when they work. Since 2008 Experteq has been at the forefront in delivering transformed technology environments to Government and Fortune 100 clients in the Cloud, VDI and Enterprise Mobility space, that deliver greater user productivity through flexible workplace solutions. Experteq has been involved in designing, building, operating and automating large-scale managed environments from 500 to 50,000+ seats. We would like to bring that capability, knowledge and experience to your organisation at an affordable price.
Contact us today. Let us help you transform your current IT environment into a modern workplace.