Traditional workplace design concepts won’t cut it in the future of work. Digital technologies, like cloud computing, mobile applications and artificial intelligence (AI), are transforming the way we work. Emerging human-to-machine collaboration is dramatically changing how we work. New technologies, combined with changing workforce demographics, will continue to revolutionize why and how we work—and the types of workers doing the work. To address these workplace challenges, most companies will require new and innovative workplace design concepts. The essential enabling platform? The digital workplace ecosystem.
In nature, a healthy and sustainable ecosystem is an environment in which diverse organisms thrive and interact. Likewise, a successful digital workplace ecosystem offers a dynamic network of spaces and environments where employees and on-demand workers will feel engaged, effective and supported by the right digital and physical resources.
Successful digital workplace transformation strategy will be vital to future organizational survivaland success. Corporate leaders the world over are seeing how a vibrant digital workplace ecosystem can fuel productivity and satisfaction, with major corporations like IBM and Microsoft to Accenture, Bank of America, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble transforming their workplaces in radical ways.
So, how can you cultivate a digital workplace ecosystem ready for the future of work? The following are three key success strategies:
1) Engage humans first and successful business outcomes will follow
The best workplaces inspire and engage humans to do their best work. And yet, according to JLL’s “Workplace—Powered By Human Experience” research, only 40 percent of employees around the world feel very engaged at work—leaving the majority of workers operating below their potential.
How can we reverse those numbers and make high engagement the norm? Put people first. Technology permeates all areas of our life today, but it doesn’t replace the human need for an authentic and personal experience. Today’s knowledge workers thrive in dynamic settings where they can be inspired by one another—or in quiet spaces if that’s more productive. High-performing digital talent will work best through a blend of flexible workplace arrangements, including creative, immersive work environments that balance collaboration areas with spaces dedicated for concentration and cognitive work activities.
Many forward-looking organizations are aiming to deliver these diverse high-performance workplace strategies and designs. Today, around 40 percent of our clients are intentionally creating activity-oriented task-based workplaces, including both unassigned seating and collaborative or specialty spaces, like a huddle booth or incubator, along with space where people are free to relax, like a café or socialization lounge. Agile workplace networks are becoming the new enterprise workplace standard.
IBM’s new offices, for example, were specifically designed to engage Millennial digital talent. Its new spaces include features like open team collaboration spaces and socialization areas with movable walls, mixed in with private spaces and soundproofed concentration rooms.
2) Investments in great workplace technology is essential
Technology investment is one of the most critical factors in creating an effective workplace. In a 2016 Microsoft survey of 1,000 Millennials, 93 percent said that modern, up-to-date technology was an important consideration in whether or not they’d accept a job offer.
Fortunately, the growing zeal for sophisticated technology can serve individual and organizational needs alike. Technology can bring a new dimension to the human experience, supporting comfort, convenience and connectivity. With convenient technology supporting high-performance employees, successful business outcomes follow.
At the minimum, a future-friendly workplace is one where employees and on-demand workers alike have simple, secure access to the right data and applications. They can quickly and easily share ideas on virtual collaboration platforms, leveraging cloud storage. They can use the devices they like, in the locations they want, with connectivity and security they can trust.
But organizations can go further, too, tapping into benefits of the AI and machine learning, the Internet of Things, smart building management, augmented, mixed and virtual reality technologies. Integrated workplace technologies could potentially improve your team performance, when you consider the impact of emerging technologies upon the human experience.
3) To get agile, think outside the walls
The next-generation workforce platform is becoming the “liquid workforce,” as organizations tap into networks of freelancers and autonomous workers to scale up and down as project needs ebb and flow. Agility is a must-have to ensure that your workplace can evolve at the same pace—or more quickly—than you organization. What will your teams look like in the future? Where will different teams thrive?
To stretch or shrink, some organizations are looking outside the traditional corporate office footprint for more flexible solutions that also support today’s talent’s desire for choice. For example, some organizations are expanding their agile ecosystems with technologies that enable people to work wherever they are at any time—from an airport lounge or hotel lobby to a client site, satellite space or from home.
Other companies are offering access to coworking space such as WeWork or Carr Workplaces—or even adopting coworking practices within their own corporate workplace and real estate portfolios. A diverse mix of flexible spaces both inside and outside your corporate footprint can help ensure that your workplace ecosystem stays balanced through changing projects, personnel needs and organizational changes—without your organization taking on more long-term lease commitments than needed.
How resilient is your workplace ecosystem?
The future of work is here.
But more change is inevitable. New visions of work continue to emerge. Competing in the future will depend on how well workplace leaders master the human experience, technology investments and the ability to change with continuous agility. Future-focused organizations will stop looking at the workplace as a fixed place, but rather as a dynamic digital workplace ecosystem with the aim to engage and fully empower their future digital workforce.