For many organisations, the debate around a four-day week is an opportunity to test the boundaries of productivity.
However this poses an all important question – how can organisations ensure that systems are in place to create a more productive work ecosystem?
The answer? Constructing robust digital strategies.
Technology has, and will continue to be, the driving force behind a potential four-day week structure, supporting the resulting cultural shift and being pivotal in achieving balance between flexibility and boundaries in working arrangements.
Nurturing a Digitally-Driven Work Culture
A four-day week is dependent on an organisation’s ability to be flexible and ensure there is a framework to support this new way of working. This is where technology comes into its own. As we saw throughout the pandemic, investing in tech has the power to create an environment which supports remote working and improves efficiency even for teams on different schedules and tools at their disposal.
For this to be successful however, there will be a requirement for all employees to be comfortable using and adapting to new tech.
For example, departments like finance and operations will have to ensure that their base functions are relying more heavily on the efficiency of digitisation and automation to essentially fit five days worth of worth into a four-day structure.
Technology has long allowed the streamlining of processes, and during times of change, (particularly in today’s hyper connected world) clear and transparent messaging around the role and function of technology is vital.
A key consideration in the adoption of any new tech is the impact it can have on a workforce. Happy and engaged employees are productive employees, so sharing clear communications around the ‘how and why’ of a streamlining process can be invaluable to ensuring day-to-day operations run smoothly.
Tech is key but you can’t forget your people
During the pandemic, Ricoh’s Leading Change at Work report found that 42% of employees felt that their company’s culture suffered because of a lack of personal communication. Digital platforms can significantly improve the way teams communicate as well as improve productivity levels, but investment cannot simply focus on new digital tools. There must also be investment in your culture.
In our Leading Change at Work report, we found businesses across all sectors and industries understood that if they were ever to succeed the next big challenge was getting employees on side and supportive of new tools.
There is a need to invest in better training throughout the year, to ensure people are familiar with the latest updates and uses. Without this, they were likely to find workarounds which expose a business to potential cyber threats.
As with any shift in working culture, it is important to give employees the right tools to stay motivated, productive, and safe wherever they are.
Creating a Cyber Secure Environment
Perhaps the big challenge for any organisation going through digital transformation is their strategy around cyber security.
The pandemic, and the swift shift to remote working, highlighted data vulnerabilities and shortcomings in cyber security across all industries. In Ricoh’s Conscious Workplace Report, we found that a quarter (25%) of managers were worried about the security of their network during the period of extended remote working.
Ultimately, in a world of ever-increasing flexibility in working locations, your vulnerabilities increase. But, with investment against ‘the internet of threats’ (as it’s commonly known) in cyber security and data protection the biggest risks can be managed and mitigated.
Managing Data and Users Remotely
Another key consideration for any digital transformation, or indeed cultural shift, is user experience.
To effectively do this and ensure an environment which supports the very real-needs of employees in a four-day structure will require accurate, reliable and detailed data from across a range of departments.
Aligning HR, IT and Operations departments can provide valuable background on how employees work. Leveraging these insights and data as part of a digital strategy clears the way for building an infrastructure to support the day-to-day needs of the organisation.
In summary, through the introduction of suitable technology much of the ‘big lift’ burden (particularly of time-consuming admin) can be removed from staff allowing them to focus on more important tasks. However, in order to achieve this there must be an investment of time in producing a tailored digital strategy which shapes the way an organisation aims to work.
Technology is only a small part of any organisation. While tech can be provided the real key to success is the ability to communicate and adapt-to and use the tools provided.
Much like painting with a brush, the skill lies in the person using to tool not the tool itself.
About the Author
Ryan Herbert is Director of IT & Communication Services at RICOH UK. Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services that enable individuals to work smarter from anywhere. With cultivated knowledge and organizational capabilities nurtured over its 85-years history, Ricoh is a leading provider of digital services and information management and print and imaging solutions designed to support digital transformation and optimize business performance.
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