Great Expectations: The Workplace of the Future
Traditional offices are a thing of the past because the very nature of work has transformed
Chances are, if you’re working in a professional capacity here in Colorado, you’re already experiencing what many call the workplace of the future. Things we take for granted today, like occasional telecommuting, logging into our email from home or on the road and seamless international conference calls, were unthinkable little more than a decade ago. Today, they are commonplace. These small steps toward a connected, collaborative work environment help workers increase efficiency and productivity, and more businesses are recognizing – and further investing in – that value.
The iconic corporate environment – with its sea of cubicles surrounded by private offices and oversized conference rooms – is dead.
Because traditional office environments are inefficient, expensive and uninspiring to employees. Employees can waste up to 30 minutes a day just finding a place to meet. Three-quarters of meetings involve two-to-four people, while more than half of all conference rooms are designed to hold more than seven people. Most meeting rooms are empty at least 50 percent of the day, usually with the lights on and air conditioning running. These statistics take a new shape when you factor in how all this empty space affects companies’ real estate costs, which are skyrocketing in Colorado.
Traditional offices are a thing of the past because the very nature of work has changed. Smart companies recognize that work doesn’t have to take place within the four walls of an office or cubicle, and the traditional 9 to 5 workday is obsolete as employees demand flexible options for getting their work done. In fact, 87 percent of people say flexibility is “important” or “very important” in their workplace, and 45 percent of millennials would accept a lower salary for a flexible work environment. Offering a flexible professional landscape is now considered a job perk and a key differentiator for companies seeking to attract top talent.
Mobile technology continues to transform the workplace. Employers now recognize the office is just one of the places employees work, not the only place. Professional workers are highly adaptable and can work from anywhere: coffee shops, hotel rooms, airports and at home. Even when employees are in the office, they want to work outside the confines of an isolated desk or cube. This means companies need to create a variety of workspace options, including collaborative huddle spaces that allow people to have team discussions or private quiet rooms where workers can focus.
Companies also need to take a thoughtful approach to assigned desks and spaces. Instead of mandating a desk for each person – which can run $8,000 - $10,000 per year, per desk – many companies are embracing hoteling, where desks are not permanently assigned, but claimed as employees need them day-to-day or week-to-week, depending on schedules and needs. This not only gives employees the flexibility to work the way they choose, but helps companies increase their employee-to-desk ratio and so reduce their real estate costs.
With employee expectations changing, technology is transforming the way we work, and real estate costs climbing ever higher, employers need to embrace the workplace of the future to keep up. Companies are getting innovative and more productive with their office environments, but as they develop new workplace strategies, they are still encountering significant hurdles for their employees: connecting to company systems from anywhere; seamlessly reserving space for hoteling, huddle meetings, and larger conferences; and easily locating and connecting with local and dispersed colleagues.
Additionally, when needs arise for critical customer meetings, large-scale events or other highly strategic presentations, businesses must be able to schedule, optimize and fine-tune the user experience without displacing employees or disrupting the normal workflow. Without an intelligent system to integrate these elements, a company’s workplace can quickly fall into disarray.
Workplace connectivity software brings all these pieces together. Employees can have a productive, collaborative experience; real estate costs can be lowered significantly; and businesses can reap the benefits of productive employees who embody their brand and elevate the company above the competition. Some of the world’s leading businesses and institutions such as Accenture, Georgia-Pacific, and even Harvard University embrace meeting and room scheduling platforms across their vast campuses to ensure employees, customers, partners, and students have the collaborative, 21st century experience that defines their brand.
The Workplace of the Future is affecting us all, and it won’t be long before the office space we’ve known for years is a bygone relic. It’s time to begin exploring options for how to implement smarter systems, before your company is left in the Workplace of Yesterday.
Tim Dillon is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at EMS Software. Further information about how technology can enable businesses’ Workplace of the Future strategies can be found at emssoftware.com.