The flexible workplace: an indispensable component of the digital enterprise

BrandPost By Xerox
Jan 15, 2021
Collaboration SoftwareSmall and Medium Business

Person working from home
Credit: Getty Images

I am sure you have at least one colleague who would rather work from home, away from the clock-in, micromanaged routine of the office. I am also sure that you have at least one colleague who feels the office is the place to be and that you cannot achieve the same results with scattered teams. Perhaps they even felt this way before the most severe global health crisis of our generation emerged to make the decision for us.   

Xerox initiated the Make NOW Work programme to empower organisations everywhere to navigate these unknown waters – to dare to work differently; to not only survive but thrive too. We do this by harnessing data to automate workflows, personalise at scale, and create flexible workspaces.

We dug deeply, talking to IT and business stakeholders in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and France. In our “Future of Work in a Pandemic Era” whitepaper, we share these findings. Almost half of all enterprises are making the transition to “return to work”, but months of remote models have left a mark. Almost a third expect some remote work to continue permanently. This proportion goes up to 58% when considering global businesses alone. But almost all (95%) agreed that in-person communication was vital for personal development and talent assessment. So, hybrid working looks like it may become the new norm.

Most (72%) admitted not being technologically prepared for the working models thrust upon them by the crisis, perhaps explaining why 56% are now expanding their technology budgets and 34% intend an acceleration of digital transformation. So, our future workplaces will have to be flexible environments where technology is used to allow the office to be anywhere, at any time. This will require businesses to modernise infrastructure with cloud services that give remote teams the tools they need to be productive.

Let’s rethink this…

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the continental US, it could not have come at a worse time for Colorado’s venerable Rocky Mountain Public Media. The 64-year-old public TV and radio broadcaster was about to go live with its new, USD-34-million Denver HQ, the Buell Public Media Centre, where it aimed to house 350 employees. Understandably, it had not been designed with remote working in mind. Rocky Mountain approached Xerox for help in figuring out how to leverage the new facility while adapting to the new reality of hybrid workforces. 

The relationship was not new. Xerox had partnered with the broadcaster six years previously when we implemented a complete IT overhaul backed by 24/7 support. Through a managed-services relationship, Xerox got to know the media organisation’s business model and helped it to design the state-of-the-art Buell Centre, which merged all operations under a single, 93,000-square-foot building. This reduced premises costs and gave life to an innovation lab for the future of public media, offering multimedia studios, a flexible theatre and community gathering space, and coworking facilities for journalists from other outlets.

When the pandemic disrupted Rocky Mountain’s plans, it collaborated with its Xerox partners on a strategy that would deliver operational continuity and the production of fresh content across TV, radio and digital channels, while keeping employees safe. Xerox had to deliver on server space, multimedia storage, reliable connectivity, and support for remote and on-site workers. Much of this was accomplished through centralised wireless networking and a new media storage system. And so, Rocky Mountain adapted the Buell Centre to deliver a hybrid and flexible workplace model.

A break with tradition

Digital transformation does not come easy to organisations that began life long before the Fourth Industrial Revolution was even thought possible. Such enterprises have often resisted change and clung to legacy procedures, fearful that any upgrade to equipment or process could lead to a degradation in operational performance while still navigating the learning curve. When the global health crisis hit, some of these companies had no choice but to go digital. Others, fortunately, had already made the journey.

North Carolina-based Fairfield Chair is almost a century old. The family-run furniture manufacturer found itself operating in the digital age without searchable records. Employees described themselves as “drowning in paper”, having to place customers on hold and make the journey to a different floor to consult documentation so they could answer simple questions. And the search involved browsing through more than 150 filing cabinets. Company stakeholders knew this situation was untenable in the digital age.

By leveraging Xerox DocuShare, the company was able to make life a lot easier for its 425 employees while laying the groundwork for remote working months before most people had ever heard the term “COVID-19”. Fairfield Chair digitised 500,000 documents, which not only allowed queries to be answered by any staff member with a laptop, from any location; it also freed up space previously occupied by filing cabinets, and reduced paper usage and print costs. Fairfield has been recognised by Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture (EFEC) for its sustainable practices – the highest eco-honour in furniture manufacturing.

A teaching moment

Ask people what industries they see as having the most urgent need for flexibility. You can be all but guaranteed that “education” will appear in the top five. Keeping children learning has been in the forebrain of policymakers, parents, teachers, and school administrators for many months now. Xerox teamed up with long-time partner, the Lincoln Public Schools district of Nebraska, to leverage technology and deliver distance learning. Having spent more than 15 years working together on effective document-management solutions for 60 schools, serving more than 42,000 students in grades K-12, Xerox and Lincoln Schools set their sights on using existing Xerox technology to manage distance-learning. The DocuShare content-management and collaboration platform allows teachers and administrators to upload, store, access, and edit documents in real time from any location. The district can also use DocuShare for its human resources, purchasing, and accounting operations.

If you are to Make NOW Work for you, flexible workplaces are a necessity. Properly equipped and supported employees can not only deliver business continuity; they can deliver innovation continuity – turning your enterprise from a survivor into a thriver.