Organisations around the world are working tirelessly to understand and adapt to emerging technologies, new cultural preferences and changing workforce dynamics, all of which have created challenging productivity and performance issues amongst workforces.
Over the last 10 years, there has been a seismic shift in the way people work, which has put a lot of pressure on companies to modernise and digitally transform. So, how to ensure that the operating models used are agile, competitive and fit for the future? How to create a smart workplace? A deep understanding of people and their ability to drive the economy through the way they work is the key, as the workplace is only as smart as it’s empowered users.
The way people work sits at the heart of every organisation – from small to large, public to private – across every industry and sector. The alignment between cultural, physical and technological workplace strategies, all based on a common ground between employees and employers, is a crucial part of any company’s modernisation process. By focusing on people first, organisations can implement changes around three pillars: culture, workspace and technology, creating a truly productive environment – a smart workplace - where employees will unlock their potential and enhance their creativity. There are some guidelines that can support companies on their way to creating a smart workplace, which are tightly connected to these pillars. These are taken from the Economy of People report, a study run by Ricoh UK and Ireland and Oxford Economics.
Culture is extremely effective at improving business performance and aspects such as employee satisfaction, well-being and motivation. Focus more on the organisation’s ethics, values and overall purpose.
Don’t forget about younger workers (Generations Y & Z) who are in search of organisations that are more aligned with their own personal values - they are the future of the workforce.
Remember that creativity needs to be nurtured. Executives believe culture is the most important catalyst of generating creative ideas. However, when compared to employees, it becomes clear that the path to performance and creativity requires a balanced mix of workplace attributes to successfully generate creative thinking.
Investment is vital
Make consistent investments in office environment, however large or small. This can directly influence employee performance, productivity and even attitude towards work. Even small improvements could make a big difference.
Don’t underestimate the importance of personal workspace and operating procedures. Employees clearly value atmospheres that are structured, organised and complete with personal space to allow them to both perform and be productive.
Closely evaluate employee demographics to understand their unique needs.
Flexible working is more complex than simply working from home. Employees believe they could be more productive when working remotely but need the right tools and technology to do so.
Results will follow, and they will fundamentally change an organisation. The vast majority of executives who were asked to estimate the impact of an optimal office environment on the productivity of their organisation said they would see an increase up to 10 per cent, making it vital to unlocking GDP.
Focus on core technologies, such as infrastructure and digitisation, which have become the hallmarks of successful digital transformation strategies.
Remember about different priorities in different sectors. For example, employees at financial services firms report significantly more opportunity to unlock productivity through use of business applications and workplace productivity tools, whilst employees at many different business and professional services firms believe more strongly in the need to digitise information and create digital workflows.
Explore opportunities to further enhance productivity and service offering through Artificial Intelligence (AI). 41 per cent of European employees are seeking a reduction in repetitive tasks and more than a third (36 per cent) call for the automation of admin tasks (findings from Ricoh-commissioned research in December 2017, where we spoke to 3,500 employees on the topic of a digital workplace). Think about multiple areas where a form of AI is making a big impact in the workplace: for example, AI chatbot salesmen, AI customer contact centres or AI collaboration tools, i.e., interactive whiteboards.
It might sound complicated, but the strategy is in fact quite simple: in order to create a smart workplace companies, consultants or solution providers need to begin with employees and their needs in terms of technology and workspace. Start with developing a deep understanding of how people work and what they need – thus you will get information necessary to enhance workspaces, design and implement new processes and build bespoke technology solutions. This will empower employees and move the organisation towards a smarter workplace ensuring it is fit for the future.