Many organisations are currently in the process of digitally transforming their operations and looking at how the latest innovations can supercharge efficiencies across every business area.
But what about the workplace as a whole? With younger generations seeking smart workplaces that have multiple seamlessly integrated technologies to allow them to be more productive, organisations cannot afford to stay in the dark ages.
The ‘smart’ part of a smart workplace
A smart workplace is an ecosystem that seamlessly encompasses digital and print platforms with intuitive, secure cloud technologies and document workflows. It uses technology to foster greater collaboration amongst employees, regardless of their location. Whether working from an office or a coffee shop, the integrated technology should offer the same level of quality, engagement, and ability to do their job, without any decline in service.
Such a workplace should simply facilitate smarter ways of working. For example, instant connectivity to systems at the press of a button allows smoother communication, which speeds up and streamlines processes that have traditionally sparked anger, like booking rooms or timetabling clients remotely. In turn, this helps to maximise employee productivity both inside and outside the office.
Collaborative tools and managed services are key to unlocking the smart workplace experience. Audio and video conferencing systems – supported by microphones, speakers, imaging units, TVs and interactive whiteboards – enable more seamless hybrid collaboration. As such, employees can use a meeting ‘room’ collectively and properly, as though they are sharing the same physical space.
However, building a truly smart workplace goes beyond just buying and plugging in all the shiny new kits one can find. It combines technology and services that actually meet the business needs and address employee pain-points. They must be easy to use too, and it’s also important that organisations clearly set out how they intend to use the tools, so that employees are fully supported and engaged in its deployment.
Why workplaces need to get smart
The pandemic has certainly accelerated the shift towards smart workplace technology by at least five years. As hybrid working is now the norm, business leaders are realising they need to re-engage with their workforce on a different level and utilise the best of both worlds.
Offices have the opportunity to become collaborative spaces, offering high-quality facilities, a sense of togetherness, and equally, be suitable for those who wish to work from home. Without compromising on experience, this hybrid environment should ensure that all employees can get the most out of their working hours.
Covid-19 has also shifted workforce expectations. As the Great Resignation continues, employers are coming to the realisation that impressions count – and technology plays a huge role in this. If new recruits on their first day are given a piece of inefficient, off-the-shelf kit that takes hours to set up, one of their very first experiences in their new role is a negative one. This feeling of frustration and disappointment with the tools they have been given will often stick with employees too, potentially leading to low morale further down the line.
As wellbeing at work becomes intertwined with technology, tech increasingly forms the bond between the company and their employees. If the organisation strengthens their technology, they also strengthen this important bond.
The barriers to becoming smart
Despite the benefits, creating a smart workplace could be a fear-inducing task for some. Businesses might not know where to start, what to prioritise and how to stretch their already-thin post-pandemic budgets to accommodate the technological changes. The financial barrier to getting smart have held businesses back from transforming and evolving with the times. However, creating a smart workplace does not have to involve a large upfront investment as organisations can spread the costs over time.
Also, during an area of more sophisticated and more frequent cyber-attacks, decision-makers have security at the very forefront of their minds. It’s a matter of simple calculation that the more technology a company puts in, the more endpoints they effectively have, potentially opening more doors for hackers. Fear of exposing systems to more vulnerabilities is not an uncommon obstacle to embracing smart technology.
But these challenges are not impossible to overcome. With the right support, organisations can leverage the latest and most transformative technologies in the workplace without compromising on security, affordability or convenience.
Adopting a unified approach
Once the technology is implemented, it will of course require regular maintenance. Otherwise, organisations could be putting money down the drain. By partnering with a managed services provider (MSP), businesses can embrace a more unified approach to the end-to-end management of all their assets. That way, they can solve problems quicker and more efficiently, ensuring all devices are consistently operational from both the office, at home and in that coffee shop.
Through strategic partnerships, companies can scale their finance in line with their specific needs and capabilities. They also provide decision-makers with a solution to improve endpoint security and a better night sleep knowing their data is protected with complete security built into workplace technologies.
In order to attract new talent and increase employee engagement and retention, organisations must become more proactive now and take the very first step towards a more connected future. Creating a smarter workplace and leveraging new technologies is a great opportunity to stand out as an employer of choice and form a truly collaborative space where everyone can succeed.
About the Author
Paul Rylands is VP of Managed IT Services at Apogee Corporation. After graduating from University, Paul entered the Managed Print Services industry and now has 22 years of experience. Before joining Apogee, Paul held the role of National Sales Director at Alto Digital. Prior to that he held numerous positions over a 15 year period at Danwood which included the development of the company’s public sector presence through the national frameworks.
Featured image: ©Chaosamran