The workplace of the future will be here soon, the experts tell us, and it will be flexible, digital and mobile.
CEOs want the increased productivity that collaboration and mobility provide, and CIOs are leading a digital transformation in most companies that will support those organisational practices with the right technology.
At the same time, employees, especially millennials who will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020, demand flexible working conditions.
But, as PWC noted in a recent survey, not all workers are ready for all these changes. Some are challenged by depending on communications technology for a large part of their jobs.
“It is clear that the future of work and that of the workplace is changing rapidly. While there is still a sizeable segment of workforce which prefers to operate in traditional models, many others are opting for entrepreneurial and network based models which engage with an ecosystem of partners and collaborators,” PWC pointed out.
On the one hand, we have workers who aren’t ready for the digital transformation of the workplace.
On the other hand, there is a large part of the workforce that wants more and better communications technology as soon as possible. How can management balance this cultural division?
It is that “sizeable segment” of the workforce that poses the greatest challenge companies face when it comes to successfully making the transition to a mobile culture driven by communications technology.
Without a careful choice of that technology, getting the employees on board with new ways of working and collaborating will prove challenging, and businesses won’t get the productivity boost they are looking for.
The choice of a high-quality Unified Communications (UC) system will drive adoption, however, because employees will judge the technology by ease-of-use, richness of functionality, and reliability.
UC is a key technology for the office of the future, because rolling out mobility successfully depends on reliable and low-cost communications.
If workers are to be comfortable working remotely or at home, they must feel that they can connect to the office without a hitch, whenever and wherever they are.
A high-quality UC system ensures that the connection with the office isn’t broken.
It should be feature-rich, providing free interoffice calling with IP Telephony, and free chat, messaging and web conferencing.
This choice of communication type is critical for adoption, because workers will want to use the one they prefer.
Older workers may gravitate to calling and conferencing, while millennials are known to prefer chat and messaging above all others.
A good example is that of long-time employees, particularly middle managers who’ve helped an organisation succeed for years.
Often they have succeeded in their careers by becoming ‘the expert’ on a particular subject, and they expect others to come to them for consultation, so learning to collaborate, much less online, can be a challenge.
These workers need to be convinced that they’ll be even more successful if they share information using communications technology.
But if they are obliged to struggle with repeated system failures, or to memorise complicated steps to communicate online, they will stop trying.
Getting the millennials on board
Then, attention must be paid to the other segment of the workforce that wants more and better technology as soon as possible.
There is a clear generational divide in adoption, according to the PWC study.
A majority of younger workers, in particular, millennials, who will constitute 50% of the workforce by 2020, say they prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face to face or even over the telephone, and they have been known to change jobs to get better tech at the workplace.
Younger workers routinely make use of their own technology at work already, and they believe that it makes them perform better.
A majority of younger workers are also dissatisfied with their companies’ technology offer. So they will be eager to embrace communications technology, particularly as it supports the flexible working schedule they favour.
They demand, however, top-notch support and the ability to use the technology in the way they prefer.
For these workers, offering a rich choice of functionality is key to adoption.
As we’ve seen, chat and messaging are very important. But, to spur innovation, web conferencing is also a mission-critical feature.
The ability for millennials to reach out to each other, enabling them to “collide and collaborate,” as one expert puts it, will both boost productivity and increase the speed of decision making.
Millennials, and other younger workers, will immediately take advantage of this opportunity to communicate with the colleagues best placed to advance their projects.
Working on their smartphones, they will convert their long experience of consumer chat and conferencing apps to the service of the company.
“These employees come with heightened expectations for consumer-grade user experiences, so organisations must foster technology use that meets these needs,” warns researcher Progress, in a July 2016 study.
“If employees are not properly engaged, if they’re not energised to innovate, your business will fail. The systems you use have a large role to play in this.”
Hence the significance of choosing a high-quality UC system.
Top technology for the best results
Choosing a high-quality UC system, one which offers all these features like smartphone apps for free communications can make a vast difference to businesses’ bottom line, thanks to successful adoption.
Such organisations increased operating income by 19.2% last year, while those that did not succeed with adoption saw a 32.7% decline in operating profit.
“With compelling application experiences across all communications channels, you’ll get the most out of your staff investment,” the study notes.
So it seems crystal clear that the success of digital transformation will depend heavily on the choice of a high-quality UC system.
CIOs should take this into account when making technology choices.
Sourced by Paul Clarke, channel manager at 3CX