How Are Smart Offices Changing the Work Culture?Social
The digital transformation is slowly pushing traditional workplaces into the dustbin. The rise and proliferation of information technology are changing every aspect of our lives, including how and where we work.
The digital workplace is the natural evolution of a work environment that has been utilizing various office software over the past decades; whether enterprise email systems, instant messaging tools, virtual meetings, or electronic HR applications, all these technologies are changing the work experience and shaping the entire working environment. Advanced technologies like blockchain, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are predicted to further transform the workplace in the next ten years, causing major disruption not only within the workforce but also in how work is done.
As technologies evolve, the workplace and the expectations of the employees will continue to change, pushing for a new corporate culture that encompasses a digital workflow, a new concept of teamwork, new workspace design, and other trends centered on employee experience, flexibility, remote working, and promoting work-life balance.
Digital Workplace Strategy
Adopting a digital work strategy rolls out various benefits, particularly related to talent attraction and retention as well as employee productivity and satisfaction. Leading companies are fostering new work environments not only to create a better experience for the employees, but also to utilize it strategically in boosting the company brand, attracting top candidates, and retaining talents.
For example, when Facebook was voted No.1 on Glassdoor's Best Places to Work list in 2018, the employees cited autonomy, trust, leadership transparency, strengths-based culture, opportunities for advancements, competitive salaries and progressive healthcare benefits as the most important attributes, alongside perks like vibrant office environment, free food, on-site health centers, and gaming rooms. Online e-commerce company Jet.com utilized its relaxed company culture as a recruitment tool and allowed candidates to experience its office culture using virtual reality technology.
This report by Deloitte presents a four-layered digital workplace framework as a tool "to understand their current digital workplace and identify areas of opportunity to support a better way of doing business".
Layer 1 is all about teamwork: a digital workplace must break down the communication barriers through fostering the employee's ability to create productive business relationships within and beyond natural workgroups, to enable knowledge sharing across the organization. Layer 2 represents the technology that supports the digital workplace with appropriate governance structures and management processes.
Layer 3 encompasses the appropriate controls and regulations that underpin the effective use of technology in the digital workspace. Layer 4 represents the business drivers, as the direction of the organization should guide the direction of the digital workplace.
The workspace is no longer yesterday's private offices or rows of cubicles and desks overloaded with paper documents; it is not a physical space that employees must occupy during office hours to get work done. The workspaces of the future are digital, dynamic, open, paperless, and flexible. The Internet of Things is blending the boundaries between the physical space and where work gets accomplished, completely radicalizing the working culture and employee expectations.
Embracing digital workspaces is rapidly becoming imperative for any company that desires to be relevant. As more organizations realize the future-proof benefits of digital workplaces, the following trends will grow in the coming years.
The interaction between technology and architecture will drive the design of workspaces. The ideal workspace is where employees want to show up, not where they need to show up. Open offices, collaborative zones, quiet areas, lounge areas, cafeteria, on-site gym, streamlined furniture, smaller desk spaces, ergonomic designs that allow employees to stay active and fluidly move around, and biophilia to bring nature indoors; all these features go into the design that aims to achieve more connected and happily productive employees. Additionally, the workplace design should suit the diverse workforce; four generations with very different needs and expectations are now working together, which entails a necessity for flexibility.
There are multiple ways of working in the future workplace, which will be valuable for balancing work and life.
Technology has enabled remote working to be as productive as working in the office, if not more, according to a Stanford University study. The gig economy will thrive; Gartner listed freelancing as one of the top six future work trends and predicted: "organizations will increasingly learn and borrow from freelance management and gig economy platforms, which dynamically match short-term work requirements directly with workers who have the relevant knowledge, experience, skills, competencies, and availability".
Teamwork and knowledge-sharing
Digital workspaces enable employees to communicate and collaborate in exceptional ways, regardless of geography, culture, and hierarchy. The collaborative workspaces create opportunities where employees socialize and communicate which can lead to beneficial peer-to-peer conversations. Additionally, it encourages the fostering of relationships beyond the traditional work settings, which can be immensely beneficial for everyone involved, as effective teamwork and knowledge sharing flourish in an environment of trust and transparency.
All these factors and trends will continue to shape the creation of a connected ecosystem that challenges the traditional structural organization of work; the future of workplaces is a smart office that utilizes employee-empowerment and happiness to boost innovation, growth, and productivity.