‘Flexible’, ‘agile’, ‘smart’. They’re all words that seem to be quite common terms these days when people talk about their place of work; but when you dig beneath the veneer, what do they actually mean?
Well, there’s no single catch-all answer. Every business is different. So what your ideal flexible workplace looks like is likely to vary significantly compared to other enterprises, and even competitors within your own industry. But what unifies all businesses looking for greater flexibility is the desire to make the most of technology. And there’s plenty of it about that can be adapted to the needs of your workforce and help make your flexible dream a practical, sustainable reality.
Here are three key areas for you to investigate:
1. Remote (worker) control
More and more employees - particularly younger ones - are keen to work from home or remotely wherever possible. But enabling a more flexible and agile workforce that works for your business isn’t as simple as saying: “No problem, you can start taking your laptop home”.
Modern business happens instantly, so whatever the time of day and wherever they are, remote workers need to be able to access all the technology and functionality they’d have access to if they were in the office.
Here’s an example: your field sales operative goes to a potential client and makes a really good impression. She gets the lead to agree to visit your office for a meeting, so they can take a more detailed look at your product. She doesn’t want the lead to get cold feet through any delay or lack of professionalism on her part, so she wants to book the meeting in immediately.
Without any technology to hand, she’s got to make a phone call to the office to book the meeting room. The person who looks after those bookings might be taking a break, or be on another call. So she’s left hanging - right in front of the lead.
But armed with full functionality, she can access the meeting room booking app on her phone, get the right meeting room she needs at the right time, invite everyone she needs to invite, and arrange catering delivery for half an hour after the meeting starts. All within a couple of minutes and without any external help… because you’ve equipped her device with the software beforehand.
2. Collaborating on camera
As flexible working has grown, so has the usefulness of video collaboration tools. But for workers at the office end of the collaboration, there’s still a need for a meeting room more often than not.
Why? Well, imagine you have ten employees all in the same open-plan office environment, and at a particular time, eight of them are on different video calls with colleagues, leads and clients in various other places. Firstly, the noise in the room would be so overwhelming that even the best noise-cancelling technology would struggle to get rid of it all, and the callers on the other end would think your business was total chaos. And secondly, the two people in the office that aren’t on calls are getting so distracted by the noise that they can’t get any work done themselves. In short, it’s bad for business, bad for productivity and bad for employee satisfaction.
So meeting rooms equipped with video conferencing functionality are an absolute must. But when different clients use different platforms, it’s critical to cover every base and ensure meeting rooms are always set up with the right technology. Without an integrated way of dealing with this, vital time will be wasted getting calls up and running. And let’s face it: everyone gets irritated when video calls don’t work properly.
3. Changing the face of your workspace
Flexible workspaces can be the key that unlocks the maximum potential and productivity of your workforce.
Flexibility can give you the freedom to work where they want, when you want, but always have a desk on hand at the office when you need to come in.
But there’s one condition: these workspaces absolutely, positively, have to be managed properly. If they aren’t, they can quickly become an administrative nightmare for whoever has to manage desk bookings, meeting room bookings, checking in, checking out and 101 other related things. There isn’t much point trying to reshape your workspace if it’s just going to swaddle your business in red tape.
That’s where a cloud-based workspace solution comes in, as it can give you a single platform for looking after everything. Providing easy management and visibility, every worker, desk, meeting room and site can be integrated into a single, part-automated system. The best solutions on the market even offer analytics capabilities that work out where resources are being under-used, and offer advice on how they can be better deployed to maximise efficiency.
What can all this mean for your bottom line?
The drivers behind the flexible workplace aren’t limited to employee satisfaction. As we’ve covered here, the enabling technology involved can make your business look more professional, more efficient, and consequently become even more profitable. If you aren’t convinced, take a few minutes to calculate your potential return on investment based on your own business’s use case.