5 Tips for Transitioning to the Mobile Workplace
The workforce of today is very different from just ten years ago and evolving at the pace of business. Baby boomers are transitioning out and digitally native millennials and Gen-Xers are taking on more leadership positions. Alongside this ongoing generational transformation, the introduction of cloud computing and widespread mobility, the Internet of Things (IOT) and other next generation technologies have increased the expectations of both employers and their employees about when and how they do their jobs.
The changing technological landscape has arguably created more demands on the contemporary professional’s time, but employers are also increasingly more generous with her or his space. Large organizations are transitioning from traditional work environments to mobile offices with no assigned desks or expectations that you’ll be there unless you have to meet a client or colleague in that part of the world at that time.
Many businesses, however, can be slow to adapt, not grasping the need for change until they are behind and see their ability to attract and retain the best talent or keep offices in tony zip codes diminishing. Given that change is inevitable, organizations can use these tips as a starting point to begin their transition from the traditional office environment into the mobile workplace.
1. Why a mobile office?
The changing cultural and technological landscapes make it increasingly necessary to consider different ways of working. Many workplaces such as enterprise organizations, law firms, professional services providers and others are now considered global by default. Younger workers are increasingly demanding that their quality of life be accounted for in ways that previous generations may not have had as an option. For work, it may be that I need to do business in real time with someone in Beijing from New York right now. But I may also be in New York visiting family and the ability to do both at the same time is increasingly expected by contemporary employees.
Mobile workplaces can provide busy professionals the best of both these worlds, giving them the infrastructure to do their jobs and the flexibility to maintain personal lives as well.
2. How to start?
The best way to begin transitioning to a mobile workplace is by understanding the qualities of the physical environment of each office itself, as well as the culture of the workplace. In environments in which as much as 90 percent of a workforce comprised of tens of thousands of people may have no fixed cubicle, attention paid to details of company culture – both the culture that has come before and the one that a company is trying to create – matters more than ever.
Operational factors should also be taken into consideration. In order to maximize the real estate footprint of any given work environment, efficiencies must be introduced to save on back office spend while making it easier for employees to work. Considering both these elements in tandem allows for a transitory workplace that still both preserves the culture and cuts costs.
3. When to start?
The most forward-thinking organizations already have the transformation well underway, anticipating that both employees and business will create the need for greater flexibility in the workplace environment. This is true for client-facing jobs and the back office as well. Introducing increased efficiencies at all levels of the organization saves on overhead, attracts talent and demonstrates that your business has noted the future on the horizon.
4. What do you need?
Technology will enable the design of a mobile workplace that is both personalized and consistent. For example, end-to-end point solutions can guide processes from reception to the mailroom. Mobile apps can let workers check into the office or reserve a conference room and create a sense of consistency in the process.
Technology is also important to automating backend operations or making them more efficient. For example, software solutions can now track the huge volumes of print mail and packages that come with global organizations. This is especially important when your employees could be receiving business critical materials in Manhattan on Monday or Fiji on Friday.
In addition, powerful analytical applications can now provide ways to cut overhead at every corner and introduce more efficient strategies for managing everything from print services to records to human resources.
5. Where to start?
As mentioned, larger employers across industries already have this transition well underway. But strategies for creating greater quality of life for your workforce or increasing operational efficiencies in general is not a one-size proposition, and any office environment can benefit from using some or all of the above strategies to enable organizational change. Real estate in major urban areas becomes more costly and technology increasingly frees workers to work both more globally and have flexibility in their personal lives. Methodologies such as those described here will eventually be deployed in companies of every size to bring in the best workers and reduce the capital necessary to keep them working.
Anthony Dupree is a Chief Information Officer at Novitex Enterprise Solutions