Earlier this month, I was pleased to participate in a Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) webinar on the opportunities at the intersection of collaboration, office configuration, and workplace strategy. HRPA is a professional regulatory body and the association for more than 20,000 Human Resources professionals in Ontario, and the webinar panel also included Chris Hood, a workplace guru at CBRE, and Michael Gresty, CEO of Rifinity, a business intelligence and software company focused on workplace optimization.
Our premise was simple:
(1) The make-up of the workforce is changing. Companies are dealing with four different generations in the workforce, with the first baby-boomers contemplating (early) retirement and the latest entrants from Generation 2020 (those born after 1995, and often also referred to as “digital natives”). Expectations, work habits and work-life balance, and the use of new tools, own devices and social media are altering how, when and where teams collaborate and work gets done.
(2) The nature of work is changing at a rapid pace. Workforces collaborate across distance and time in a connected and globalized world. At Cisco, 52% of our team members work in a different location than their managers. More than 50% of our 71,000 staff collaborates with people in different time zones. 75% demonstrate a mobile or remote work style. Tools and technologies that further transform how collaboration takes place are becoming table stakes: High Definition video collaboration via Cisco TelePresence, online collaboration with WebEx, and synchronous and asynchronous teamwork with Cisco Spark, just to name a few.
The “digital natives” won’t accept and expect anything less.
(3) Fifty per cent of office space is underutilized. With a fast growing mobile workforce and the need to be with colleagues, partners and customers (whenever and wherever), companies find their workspaces used only less than half of the time. Offices and work stations sit empty and are costly to every organization. Real estate costs (the cost per workplace, including rent, maintenance, moves-adds-and-changes, security, services and energy) remain among the highest budget items for all organizations, after people cost.
It is up to HR professionals and corporate real estate teams – together – to now take advantage of the digital age. They must create work environments (physical and virtual) that match the rapidly changing expectations of the evolving workforce while maximizing the value and utilization of the real estate. Those that manage to combine world class design (open, transparent, flexible, fun) with the latest collaboration technologies (video, mobile, cloud, communications) to provide creative, innovative, inspiring, collaborative and productive workspaces will attract and retain top-notch team members and get the most out of their workforce.
A workplace strategy therefore goes beyond the provisioning of affordable and efficient space; it is now at the core of providing collaborative and innovative environments where all workers can reach their potential while adding the most value to the corporation. As companies are battling to attract the best next generation workforce, they are quick to realize that the workplace plays an increasingly important role for attracting, developing and nurturing talent. The Generation 2020 workforce will not make job choices based on salary. Work-life balance, working hours, collaborative tools to be flexible and mobile, and spaces that excite are the new key differentiators.
Work will change. Collaboration is key. Technology is at the heart of this transformation.
Consequently, our workplaces need to be more flexible, agile, and ‘connected’ to accommodate and support rapidly changing working practices. New technologies are transforming the workplace. New work ways and new workplaces require a different, and modernized, built environment. One that is personalized, controllable and adjustable. Workers will want to change up their spaces, move around without being tethered, be productive in ways as they see fit and take control of their own environmental preferences (heating, cooling, blinds and shades). Workplace technologies, workstations, collaboration tools, heating, cooling, lighting, space reservation systems … all will be connected.
The single common denominator to this is the digital infrastructure that glues these pieces together and makes it possible in a safe, secure and sustainable matter. Real time data from all these connected people, processes and things (= Internet of Everything) will give insight and capabilities to even further optimize the workplace and maximize people collaboration, productivity … and ultimately business outcomes.
To learn more about how collaboration technologies and the connected workspace intersect, register to listen to our webinar recordings now.