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Many of us have recently discovered the ease of working between home or the office. Last year when we adopted remote work en masse, workplace collaboration did not grind to a halt and, in many cases, workforces remained just as effective at home as they were in the office. I believe we have never had a better test for business continuity.
Many of us returned to the office earlier this year. Then Australia’s most recent lockdown further emphasised the importance of enabling our workforces with modern solutions to support a work-from-anywhere model.
As the foundation of what businesses need to survive has changed, so have people’s expectations of work. With 47% of Australians expecting to continue remote work, it has become apparent that the modern workplace is the new frontier.
The modern workplace leverages collaboration and communication technology to connect the workforce, from any location or device. It might be a blend of remote and in-office work – either way, it transforms our definition of work from somewhere we go to something we do.
1. The modern workplace enables efficient communication
Efficient communication is the beating heart of any organisation. It creates alignment within the business, facilitates innovation, and can boost employee engagement and productivity (which often improves employee retention).
Until quite recently, the reigning norm of workplace communication was face-to-face discussions. Many of us booked conference rooms or caught up at our desks. Phone or video conversations largely took place when chatting with clients in different geographical locations.
The modern workplace enables efficient communication via modern technologies. You can leverage video conferencing and instant messaging to effectively communicate with your team and clients. While many of us now agree that video calls can replace face-to-face meetings, there are still many benefits to meeting in person. Face-to-face meetings are best reserved for addressing complex issues, introducing new colleagues, or limiting distraction for focused conversations, to name a few.
Technologies such as Microsoft Teams operate in the cloud and widen the opportunities for communicating from anywhere. People can access work files and chat with their colleagues wherever they have an internet connection. In-office and remote teams also no longer work in silos; those in the conference room can connect with those at home seamlessly.
Finally, communication technologies for the modern workplace have caused many people to communicate more purposefully. Now that we can no longer chat with someone about low-priority items as we pass by their desk, we save time and increase productivity.
2. Enhance productivity with the modern workplace
Effective communication and productivity share a direct link in the modern workplace. When employees can communicate effectively and concisely, they often become more productive.
Productivity has long been a concern for many leaders when considering remote work. How can you ensure people are working if you cannot see them at work? Yet, Microsoft found that 82% of leaders reported their companies as equally productive when remote working compared with working in the office.
The modern workplace enhances individual productivity by providing the latest communication, collaboration and workflow technology. People with access to technology that makes work easier are often more satisfied with their jobs and the company, which leads to increased productivity. Such technologies can also reduce stress and increase focus so that everyone can put their best work forward.
How we measure performance has also changed alongside the modern workplace. Due to people having to work remotely, many businesses have been forced to begin measuring output/productivity instead of time. This has been one substantial change for many organisations and is not trivial to achieve in most cases.
3. Reduce costs and increase profits
Furthermore, the modern workplace encourages you to adopt technologies that can reduce your costs in the long term. Cloud-based applications that function together can become more cost-effective than disparate platforms with separate licences. When employees reduce the amount of application switching they do throughout the day, their productivity improves and work tools become simpler to operate. You will also see the benefits of productivity in your bottom line. So, the modern workplace can become an engine for increasing your profits.
Cloud platforms can significantly reduce the costs associated with hosting your modern workplace. The money you may usually spend on maintenance, upgrades, or security with an on-premise system is often part of your cloud licence.
Measuring how much you save in the modern workplace requires KPIs to measure cost reduction and return on investment (ROI) over time. These metrics might include client satisfaction, employee retention, and of course, your operational costs.
Finally, it is worth noting that as the modern workplace encourages remote work, it can reduce costs associated with the office, such as rent and furniture costs.
4. Modern workplace collaboration transcends geography
World events have caused a demand for mobility and flexibility at work. Now that we are confident in our ability to collaborate remotely, why not bring this thinking to those wishing to be in the office?
Modern workplace platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, can be leveraged across multiple areas of the business, including:
- Communication: People can video chat, share screens, and instant message – whether they are across the room or the world
- Collaboration: Document sharing and analytics reports allow people to stay collaborative no matter where they work.
- Project management: Gain visibility of what your people are doing by overseeing project workflows and distributing polls and surveys.
- Automation: Microsoft Teams can change how your team works by providing them with eProcess tools and robotic process automation (RPA).
- Business applications: Bring together business apps like your Microsoft Office suite and workforce management platforms.
You should apply this thinking to the office as well. Implementing the modern workplace is about more than enabling remote workers; you must also ensure office workers can easily connect with their remote colleagues.
When making the modern workplace a reality, it is key that you consider inclusivity. It is essential that you do not leave remote workers on the sidelines. At-home workers need more than technology; they need acknowledgement from the team that they do not exist on the periphery. I also recommend creating teams that mix your in-office and remote teams. As much as possible, try not to have entirely remote or entirely in-office teams work on separate projects.
5. The modern workplace delivers improved security
As we have seen in the past eighteen months, remote work creates opportunities for a new threat landscape outside the company network. People may leverage unprotected personal devices, receive convincing phishing emails, or be victims of a data breach. In FY 2020/21, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) received more than 67,500 cybercrime reports, an increase of 13% from the previous financial year.
As such, leaders must ensure they approach the modern workplace with a fresh approach to cyber security.
The modern workplace can deliver improved security by modernising existing networks and adding new layers of security to devices. Many businesses invest in two-factor authentication (2FA), zero-trust security and educate their users on selecting strong passwords. Securing endpoints, such as personal devices that people use for work, should also be top of mind for modern workplace leaders.
Your modern workplace should prioritise educating employees on cyber security issues. I recommend engaging with an IT provider who can train your employees on recognising potential cyber security threats and flagging breaches.
Build your modern workplace with Experteq
Modern workplace success requires you to leverage the right tools for supporting communication, collaboration, and productivity while minimising costs and staying secure. Experteq understand the modern workplace, through and through. We firmly believe in its merits, and we can bring these to your organisation as well.
Please take a look at our Productivity Apps solution page for more information on how we can serve your modern workplace.