COVID-19 has changed the workplace almost overnight.
The definition of the office workplace–with desks, computers, networking and receptionists is evolving into a non-physical environment. Since March 17 employees have stopped going to the office every day. No more is the norm of working in front of a desk and a computer loaded up with various technologies, selected and managed by Information technology (IT) departments.
COVID-19 has pushed the boundaries of work-from-home and challenged traditional offices to become more diverse and smarter, to meet the differing needs and challenges of employees and their situations.
Collaboration is key
Working from home, virtual collaboration and desk sharing, have been changing offices beyond recognition. Modern professionals want spaces where they can collaborate easily in ad-hoc meetings, with easy conferencing hook-ups, instant plug-and-go screen sharing, and clutter-free desks that leave more space to increase productivity.
And now, the IT departments’ job is more about enabling interoperability between diverse technologies to ensure professionals can remain productive and able to collaborate wherever they are.
This trend, which employs the latest technologies to connect, collaborate, and engage people by creating a virtual workspace, is called a “Smart Workplace.”
It is enabled through a connection of networked platforms, software, IoT technologies, and sensors. Smart Workplace is becoming a new norm since it serves as a central piece in today’s workplace strategy.
Fujitsu is one company that is developing the Smart Workplace. At the core of its current hardware and software technologies tuned towards developing the workplace that is more responsive to the needs of the employees, increasing productivity, efficiency and improving work-life balance.
“At Fujitsu Philippines, we are ready to support organizations through our end-to-end Smart Workplace solutions. With our client computing devices, solutions, and workplace services, we can help them get the flexibility and security that employees are looking for, enabling them to get more tasks done quickly while getting the competitive edge that they need,” Randy Escuyos, Head of Wireless Business Unit, Fujitsu Philippines said.
Current trends redefine the game
A Fujitsu study, called Workplace 2025: The CXO View, revealed that most corporate executives are now planning to bridge the gap between their current work environment and the strategy that will support the new demands of the business in 2025, including WFH and work-from-where you are at moment (like a coffee shop or a corner nook at the office.
The world’s current megatrends are driving the change in the way people live and work. For instance, the number of people around the world using the Internet has grown to 4.54 billion, a seven percent increase compared to January 2019, says the Digital 2020 report of social media research firms We Are Social, Inc., and Hootsuite.
The same report also revealed that globally, more than 5.19 billion people now use mobile phones, with user numbers up by 124 million over the past year. These people online are becoming more and more connected by the Internet of Things (IoT).
As these megatrends continue to create massive disruptions, they also bring challenges. With the rise of cloud computing, Augmented Reality (AR), and Hyper-Connectivity, among others, organizations are concerned about security threats.
Society, on the other hand, is faced with challenges in providing empowerment, flexibility, user innovations, and new leadership styles that go along with the disruptions. And with younger generations starting to penetrate the workforce, organizations are pushed to create new workplace strategies to cater to their needs.
The highlights Fujitsu’s workplace study are as follows:
The rise of Millennial and Gen-Z workforce
Millennials and their younger “Gen Z” counterparts will dominate the workforce and redefine corporate cultures by 2025. Millennials, also called Generation Y (born between 1980s-2000), will comprise 50 percent of the workforce. Generation Z (born between 2000-2009), on the other hand, will represent more than 20 percent.
With the change in workforce demographics, organizations are also pushed to recalibrate their approach to become more attractive employers. Workforce structures will become more fluid in terms of layers of management and flexible working practices as organizations adopt more project-based than role-based work. By 2025, one-third of organizations will also have more than 50% of their staff working remotely.
The flexible working conditions, however, will not be easy to achieve, considering the differing preferences of workforce generations. For instance, Millennials and Gen-Zs expect fast access to information and rapid decision-making, instead of being held back by processes they see as outdated and unproductive.
As digital natives, millennials and Gen-Zs also demand technology that empowers their personal lives to enable innovation and collaboration in the workplace. However, it may not be good to change everything to suit their workstyles at the expense of employees from other generations.
Workstyles are evolving
Along with the evolving workforce, workstyles are also changing. At least 49 percent of organizations anticipate the disappearance of the traditional office by 2025 as they are now turning them into collaboration hubs. Organizations are also embracing remote working and change in culture.
Despite these trends, employees see the lack of leadership and organizational structure as the main reasons why the future workplace has not been achieved yet. Workstyle innovation is a holistic change management project. Thus, HR and operations, the management board, and IT executives should work closely with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to achieve seamless transformation.
Putting up a human-centric information communications technology (ICT) strategy is also vital to focus more on enabling and empowering people within the organization. To get diverse teams working smart, CIOs need to think differently about managing them.
For instance, organizations will need an agile approach so they can boost staff productivity and creativity while enabling them to tackle challenges better. They need to give them the right mix of spaces to work in. The right tools and technology should also be in place to allow them to work from anywhere while staying protected.
The actual place where people work also plays a key role in establishing a smart workplace. According to the study, healthy, happy people get more work done. So, they need a workplace that allows in plenty of daylight. It needs to have green areas and healthy foods, too. To be agile, they need different areas, big and small, set up to make it happen.
Security in the digital age
Fifty-six percent of enterprises say their approach to security harms productivity. So, to get things done efficiently in a smart workplace, businesses need solutions, tools, and devices that protect them and their employees but still make it easy for everyone to work together, wherever they are.
Whether they are on the go, in the office, at home or with a client, employees need a secure infrastructure and data centers backing them up. This setup is crucial for all businesses, from big enterprises to public sector organizations.
The workplaces of the future are about smart work and secure collaboration. It also emphasizes the importance of giving people the power to work together from anywhere while staying protected. Attaining this collaboration–at this extraordinary time of COVID-19 is the key to the Smart Workplace.