Before you unleash the power of hot-desking agile collaborative workplaces on your organisation, it’s worth taking a moment to think about how your best assets (yes, your people) will respond to the new technology. Eric Coffman, Engagement & Alliance Manager at The Cloud Collective, offers his top tips from over 20 years of making the workplace a more connected place.
1) Digital can’t succeed without the physical
People can work from anywhere, which means they have more choices about where they want to do that work. Invest some effort in ensuring the furniture, layout, room availability and even sound levels all work to make your office a more attractive location. Although flexibility is good, remember that humans like patterns, so some consistency may be appreciated. While it’s true that ‘agile workplaces’ are becoming more common, they aren’t automatically suited to everyone – or to every industry, so consult with an expert to ensure the space and the tech are working in tandem for the best result.
2) Wondering what to do with your millennials? Make them teachers
Millennials have been the subject of a lot of study (and even more opinions) in the workplace, but the focus has been on making them ‘fit in’ to established work patterns. Smart managers have been flipping the paradigm and installing these ‘digital natives’ as in-house advocates and trainers for digital collaboration tools. The Younger generation have grown up with similar technologies in their education and personal lives, which make them ideal ambassadors within your organisation.
3) ‘Executive Sponsorship’ means walking the walk
Technology can’t solve problems all by itself, it has to be adopted and used. Which is why change management and corporate culture are also important pieces of the puzzle. One of the most effective internal resources for increasing adoption is executive sponsorship, but only if it goes beyond the all-staff email and becomes a visible, authentic part of how the leadership team go about their everyday tasks. So get your senior leaders trained up and into the habit of using the new tools, especially where they can be seen to be doing it.
4) Look for signs (literally) your current tech isn’t working
Just because your organisation owns a piece of technology or equipment doesn’t mean your people are making use of it. Jumbled cables, missing pieces, mismatched equipment that looks like it should go together (but doesn’t) are all tell-tale signs that your teams are struggling to even get basic functionality. Meeting rooms and conferencing areas are also giveaways – if the rooms are adorned with laminated instruction cards, then the user experience is probably broken, even if the equipment isn’t. Time for a human-centred re-think.
5) Get in early
Once you’ve made the decision to introduce new tools, don’t wait for them to arrive before you start encouraging your teams to think about new ways of working. Spend time to promote it, do demos, watch video walk-throughs and talk about the benefits, making sure you highlight how it will enable your teams to work together more effectively. Pick a cross section of your team and give them a day out to the vendor’s experience centre so they can see it live, meet experts and ask questions.
Getting the right technology in place is important, but so too is getting your physical workplace and your teams all on the same page.