By Robert Soderbery | Apr 14, 2016
New technologies change the way organizations compete. Companies either leverage these new tools or they get left behind by those that do.
This was true in the industrial revolution and it’s true in the digital revolution. And, these days, one of the most effective ways for enterprises to outcompete their rivals is to make maximum use of technologies that improve the workforce experience.
Personalized, Highly Connected Offices
A better workforce experience, simply put, means happier, more productive workers. It means constant engagement, enhanced collaboration and increased innovation. It’s good for your company and it’s good for the people you employ.
How do you make it happen? You give workers what they want: a workplace that’s digital and flexible, one that enables them to do their work wherever and whenever they need to do it.
Indeed, as generations shift, today’s millennial workers — the best of them — seek out companies that keep them connected around the clock and around the world. Build a better workforce experience and you’ll attract these people and keep them around long-term.
Elevate Your Workforce Experience
This new work environment is a big change from a decade ago, when ubiquitous connectivity was just a good idea glimmering on the horizon.
Then, you’d walk down to the water cooler on your floor to have a meaningful exchange with your coworkers. Now, in our highly mobile society, many people are working remotely or are constantly on the road.
The downside here is that it’s more difficult to establish a personal connection with people — and these connections are hugely valuable.
The upside is that there is a solution: digital connectivity. With high-definition video and telepresence, we can create rich immersive experiences in the office, in our homes, on a flight to Hong Kong or in a cafe in Rome.
The Smart Office
At the same time, we can be much smarter about the way that people work inside our office buildings.
For example, a lot of companies maintain more office space than they need. With more employees working from home and on the road, offices often sit vacant. And vacant office space is expensive.
There are associated charges for the lease, furniture, IT, lighting, heating, cooling and more.
In response, enterprises are transforming their offices. They’re moving toward workspaces that are more flexible and personal, open work environments where employees can choose to work wherever they feel most productive.
They can bring their laptops and sign into an available office space for a day.
Offices on Demand
Offices on demand — sometimes called “smart spaces” — are workspaces that are available for employees when and where they need them.
They conserve resources for your company. They enable employees to use a personal device to:
- Find an available office or meeting room
- Personalize the IP phone with their extension and speed-dial numbers
- See where they are in relation to another office or meeting room
- Find and collaborate with coworkers quickly and efficiently
For example, they simplify the arduous task of scheduling a conference room. They enable workers to tap their mobile phone and reserve the room. And, once they get there, all they need is provisioned for them. The space can be tied to identity, including voicemail on the phone and telepresence in the room.
Even the lighting can be set to preference. After all, some people work better under bright lights and others prefer a more subdued environment.
The net-net: creation of buildings that are not only smart but also connected, secure and easy to manage.
Offices Get Personal
I travel a lot, in the US and internationally. Every building is different, of course, and it can be frustrating and time consuming once inside to find the conference room where I’m supposed to be.
I’m often running down a hall somewhere, trying to arrive on time. But thanks to improved technology, I often have to do nothing more than tap a mobile app to find the right conference room.
Now consider 20,000 people like me saving the 2 hours a year that they used to spend walking around buildings trying to find a room. That is a significant productivity enabler.
And that’s just the beginning.
Accelerate Your Company’s Competitive Advantage.
In the future, buildings may have sensors that understand our needs from every standpoint — safety, security, productivity.
They will be able to balance the oxygen level for better productivity. When workers need a boost in the afternoon, the building can add oxygen to the air — a little extra H20 to go with their coffee.
This sort of focus on a better workforce experience is good for the enterprise and for its employees.
Gallup research shows 87 percent of the global workforce is disengaged, emotionally disconnected from their workplace and therefore less likely to be productive.
Additional Gallup research shows a single disengaged employee costs an organization nearly $3,400 for every $10,000 spent on salary.
The Mobile Workforce
Part of the problem is the traditional 9-to-5 workplace. It’s ill suited to engaging employees who increasingly want to work across a variety of geographic locations, time zones and digital platforms.
A better workforce experience accommodates these workers. It gives them anytime, anywhere connectivity. It does not herd them into cubicles every morning and out again at the end of the day.
It means workers are happier, more motivated, more productive and more loyal. They’re more connected, more collaborative and more innovative. That’s the power of workforce experience. And that’s just plain smart.
Title image by Luke Chesser
About the Author
Rob is SVP and GM of the Enterprise Networking Group at Cisco.