“The reimagined modern workplace is here,” Microsoft senior director Ryan Asdourian declared confidently this year.
“Gone are the days of rigid schedules where workers are fixed to computer terminals between the hours of 9 and 5…with technology on our side, the opportunities are endless.”
Ryan conjures up a brave new world where remote, technology-enabled workers drop in and out of flexible, friendly spaces to get their jobs done in the most efficient and enjoyable manner.
His views are well-supported. A workplace experiment in New Zealand made headlines recently when staff at a company specialising in trusts and wills were allowed to work for four days a week, while getting paid for five.
Academics found their job and life satisfaction rocketed in all areas, and the company benefited too – employees worked better and enjoyed their jobs more.
Working 9 to 5? What a way to make a living…looks like Dolly Parton was ahead of the times when she sang the theme song for the satirical 1980 movie…
Asdourian’s reimagined workplace is a wonderful vision, and it’s definitely coming to life in many worldwide offices.
The problem is, we’ve noted that some UK organisations are still failing to take full advantage of this remote working revolution.
What’s the issue?
One reason some companies are failing to embrace flexible working is the sheer pace of change in our working environments.
After all, it’s not long ago that remote working was at best tricky to monitor and at worst considered a licence to loaf.
That’s made some more traditional organisations slow to realise that remote workers can be trusted to work hard away from the office, and may even be encouraged to be more productive as a result.
Some organisations also fear opening up remote working will introduce an unacceptable lack of control into their working environment.
Yet remote working has definitely arrived. The Office of National Statistics showed that flexi-time increased by 12.35 per cent from 2012 – 2016, with more than 4m people regularly working from home.
Having a hypermobile workforce can allow an organisation to downsize its expensive square footage, or use it in new ways that appeal to this new breed of workers – creating flexible, informal meeting spaces, for instance.
And employees like it. In surveys, people now state that the ability to work flexibly is a great benefit in choosing a job.
As Microsoft’s Ryan Asdourian says:
“More than ever, the best talent is seeking organisations that encourage creativity, shun silos and support flexible working.”
So remote working makes sense
As a principle, flexible or agile working obviously has a lot going for it – but it’s true that flexible working and flexible workspace, if not properly regulated, can descend into chaos.
We’re talking about this sort of workplace headache:
- > My agile workers can’t find a hot desk
- > No meeting space was booked for my meeting
- > We planned a video conference but the equipment wasn’t available
- > We tried to have a multi-location meeting, but people didn’t show up.
Technology is the key
Organisations considering a move to remote working need to listen to Ryan Asdourian when he says it’s crucial to have technology on their side.
OK, he works for Microsoft and is naturally on the side of software – but he’s hit the nail on the head.
The workplaces worldwide that take the best advantage of the remote working revolution are those that underpin it with good technology – conference room scheduling software, for instance.
This new breed of workspace scheduling technology is designed to help office owners and mangers achieve efficiency.
7 ways conference room scheduling software helps you make the most of remote working:
- It lets workers view all available work and meeting space in real-time – conference room scheduling software links to occupancy sensors that allow available meeting spaces and desks to be displayed graphically.
- They can book space online – via an app or an easy-to-use portal.
- They can reserve equipment and facilities at the same time – the software should allow workers to add video conferencing, AV and catering to their booking.
- It reduces meeting no-shows – conference room scheduling software integrates with digital signage to guide attendees to the right place.
- It notifies everyone automatically of any meeting changes – even across different time zones.
- It helps maximise the use of available workspace – by making sure it never stands empty. If no-one turns up for a booked room or desk, the conference room scheduling software will return it to availability automatically.
- It captures data that helps in future space decisions – accurate data is captured to help the office manager identify how the workspace can be improved.
With all of these supportive features in place, a workplace is properly set up to offer employees the full benefits of agile working – and that means the organisation is set to benefit too.
Work will go on changing
There’s no doubt that the way we work will continue to change. The arrival of Artificial Intelligence will play its part – as yet not fully explored – and it’s more than likely that demands for flexible and creative working will continue to rise.
We’ll depend more and more on virtual collaboration tools such as video conferencing as they continue to become easier and more convenient than struggling through traffic.
And mobility will continue to soar as workers – accustomed to accessing every area of their lives from finance to holiday bookings via apps – demand greater and simpler access to work via their smartphone or tablet.
It looks like the reimagined workplace is already here, and it will go on stretching our imaginations even further as working life continues to change.
Amid all this transformation, one thing is for sure – we’re heading into new working territory fast. And we’re lucky that technology is evolving at the pace our workplaces need to keep up and prosper.