This horse has bolted. Either your business is already some distance down the Workplace Transformation track, or you risk increasingly losing talented, technical employees to other firms who offer things like mobile computing, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) options and workplace flexibility. For today’s workforce, flexible work schedules are the second most important factor after compensation for women. A McKinsey study found that millennials of both genders are more likely to accept a job offer that includes flexible work schedules.
Factors driving change
For the most part, all the structured, process-oriented and repetitive work has been automated and/or outsourced. Today’s work is unstructured, often unpredictable, complex and collaborative. This requires creative problem solvers working in creative teams.
The millennials and Gen Z workers who will dominate the workforce by 2020 want work/life balance, a seamless technology experience and inspiring workspaces. And they are less willing to relocate for work.
The confluence of today’s powerful mobile devices, ubiquitous internet access and cloud-based applications make it technically possible to work anywhere, anytime.
The Workplace Transformation Continuum
There appear to be conflicting anecdotes in the technical press. We have examples of companies such as Automattic, who have no offices, and whose employees are allowed to work, literally, anywhere in the world, to companies such as Apple who have just built a giant new headquarters in California, or Yahoo, which recalled remote workers back to offices in a bid to regain control over their business.
Are the latter two examples suggesting that remote work is failing and that workers are being re-integrated into the office? Not at all. What it suggests that almost 100% telecommuting works for some businesses but not all. It also suggests that many elements of “Workplace Transformation” can be achieved without requiring remote working.
For example, Telstra is implementing its Future Ways of Working across its many locations. Each floor of each building is being rebuilt around the concept of Workplace Transformation. They assume that not all workers will be in the office at any one time. There are no assigned desks. Personal items are not left at work. The only items workers need to bring to work are their laptops and mobile devices. Screens are already provided. There are many “work” configurations: stand-up desks, sit down desks, meeting rooms, team clusters and so on. Individual workers can choose to come to the office or work from their home or even a coffee shop.
“We now live in a world where physical presence is optional, lines between work and life are increasingly blurred by tech, and flex schedules are viewed by employees as a right, not a perk,” says Cornerstone OnDemand CEO Adam Miller. “Employers who empower their people to get their work done in the best ways possible are best positioned to attract and retain top talent. Fortunately, cloud and mobile tech is making it easier to intertwine physical and virtual workspaces in ways that still encourage collaboration and connectivity.”
There are three elements in the implementation of Workplace Transformation:
Re-designing existing office space to accommodate open seating as opposed to assigned seating. Preserve the ability for a project team to sit close to each other to facilitate collaboration. Plan for meeting spaces of various sizes to accommodate from 2 people to 10 or more people.
Such a variety of environments allows people to choose their preferred work setting. Stand-up desks, sit-down desks or even comfortable lounge chairs.
Real estate costs can shrink significantly as only workers who come into the office on a given day need to be accommodated.
The approach needs solutions to ensure workers have access to the data and applications no matter where they are. Virtual desktops can be used to ensure that workers can resume exactly where they left off the previous day, no matter where in the world that day was.
When it comes to working from home, Stott Hoare says that it is important to ensure the home office is prepared to suit business needs. Many companies actually conduct home audits to check if staff are set up correctly in order to comply with health and safety guidelines.
Key here is: plug into a network and instantly have access to all network connections, collaboration tools, data and applications. Provide VPN connections for workers away from the office. Mobile devices – including wearables – are effectively blurring the lines between work and home.
Training workers on the new and different ways of working.
Work on employee engagement, a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organisation to give their best each day, committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, with an enhanced sense of their own wellbeing. These attributes are achievable outcomes of Workplace Transformation.
Encourage collaboration with peers via meeting facilities and collaboration tools.
The freedom to work from anywhere and at any time will increase every worker’s effectiveness.
Workplace Transformation is not about making work “fun”. We don’t need foosball tables – we need work environments that allow people to work somewhere conducive to focusing on their deliverables. Flexibility around workplace, work hours and technology are key to that. It shouldn’t need to be said that, while we talk about adapting to workers’ preferences around the working environment isn’t just about the workers. It’s about improving the effectiveness and success of the organisation as a whole.
In 2015, at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in London, the MS CEO Satya Nadella stated “Work is no longer a place you go to. Work is about making things happen where you are.”
Preserving your ability to embrace Workplace Transformation requires a disciplined approach that includes the mantra: Mobile first…Cloud first.
For more information about Workplace Transformation or to see how you can get started, talk to Stott Hoare – we are excited about the prospect of future workplaces and can help you with the tech to make it happen.