The great untethering of workers has become a game of musical chairs such as Millennials who drop into their cube the first hour, plop on a couch in an ‘idea room’ for the next two, then plug into a café with headphones on for much of the afternoon and wrap things up on the train ride home. Great for them, but a bit challenging for IT, HR and facilities teams concerned about keeping their workforce secured, collaborative and productive.
Worker mobility is a mega trend, especially for Millennials — 64% of whom work somewhere other than their main site during a typical day, reports Deloitte. And they’re not alone; altogether 80–90% of the US workforce would prefer to telecommute at least part time, according to the same study.
You may find that managing this workplace transformation involves setting goals that together will form a “smart office” strategy. One good place to start is figuring out what are the types of experiences and environments that workers really want?
Another key question is how can you apply technology to help your organization to engage all your employees to achieve the much-desired digital workplace transformation? Here are four ideas to consider:
1. Endpoint security: the mobility of data makes standard security obsolete
Working from anywhere means taking valuable data available outside the boundaries of your office network. This freedom has transformed our work lives but requires a new approach for securing our arsenal of company-owned and personal devices along with our data. Trust is everything: Employees must believe what they send, receive and launch will not imperil their clients, partners and co-workers, but also will be safe for themselves too.
One way to achieve better endpoint security is to establish authentication protocols that go beyond software alone. Building multifactor authentication (MFA) into the silicon is a proven way to combat breaches. By providing a hardened layer of protection through the endpoint, it is much tougher to hack than if you use software protection alone. Your workforce will appreciate the strengths of this approach.
Many young workers have never tethered a laptop to an Ethernet connection (many laptops now don’t even have network inputs) and it’s fair to assume that they don’t want to start now.
Yet distributed workforces and the proliferation of mobile devices present constant challenges to IT managers. If IT doesn’t remain flexible, it’s clear that many workers will take matters into their own hands by buying mobile devices or placing data in the public cloud. One key to successful remote management is to ensure that all devices are receiving updates and can be taken offline in the face of security threats.
Encouraging smart remote management practices provides the underpinning that allows work to happen wherever it needs to happen. We believe that unmanaged devices very quickly become unusable, which of course undermines productivity.
3. Streamlined collaboration: smarter conferences, both locally and around the globe
Your workforce really wants the freedom to conduct business meetings anywhere they choose, on demand, basically at the touch of a button. Conference rooms aren’t going away any time soon, but no one wants to be required to reserve one to initiate a meeting.
Few companies want to expend the time and resources on hardware to enable screen sharing and collaboration during conferences. Few companies still buy projectors and very few rooms have the right dongles when you need them. Look for an extensible and customizable meeting room platform that doesn’t require every participant to show up and streamlines existing tools and intelligent spaces that make workplace transformation possible.
4. Merged reality: commercial virtual reality and augmented reality may reinvent the workplace
You wouldn’t adopt technology just to amuse your workforce, yet capturing their imaginations is a great way to build employee engagement. Consider virtual reality or its variants such as augmented reality, neither of which are just for gaming anymore. Experts predict that commercial or business uses of VR and AR will soon outpace the gaming sector.
Many industries such as manufacturing, retail, construction, and healthcare are already experiencing the benefits of building virtual models and 3D visualization. New wireless gigabit technology gives workers the freedom of moving around without wires.
We believe there is not one industry that won’t be impacted by VR advancements in the next decade. The time has come to start testing this game changing technology to see what it can do for you and your workforce.
Whether it’s using virtual reality and 3D visualization to help your design process or installing smarter collaboration tools to help connect a global team, it’s important to consider new ways to engage and empower your workforce. Fortunately, there’s more than one path to achieving workplace transformation. We’ve learned that engaging Millennials — or really any set of valuable workers — takes a combination of flexible workforce policies and smart, cutting-edge technology.