What the Digital Transformation Means for Your Office

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“Digital transformation” has become an industry buzzword as businesses scramble to keep pace with technological evolution. The “digital transformation” goes beyond specific software or devices and, according to McKinsey, has had far reaching impact on the way people shop and consume information:

“Today’s consumers are widely celebrated for their newly empowered behaviors. By embracing technology and connectivity, they use apps and information to find exactly what they want, as well as where and when they want it.”

The interpersonal connection, personalization, real-time data collection, and integration of social media that technology enables has radically altered the way businesses must operate.

The same is true for your office. The digital transformation has impacted where and how your employees want to work and how they expect the workspace to function. In many ways, sleekly designed, amenity-filled coworking spaces embody this transformation: they support schedule flexibility and different working styles, have spaces that enable collaboration and individual focus, offer a plethora of refreshments for specific tastes and dietary needs, and host community building activities within the space.

Across all industries, the digital transformation has deep implications for the operations of the modern office. To equip your office to meet your employees' changing needs and expectations, you will need to re-evaluate how your space is organized and the services and software you rely on to keep your office running smoothly.

 

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Flexible, connected spaces

In the digital age, your team expects to be able to do their work seamlessly across platforms, whether in the office, at home, or on their mobile devices. The American Time Use Survey found that 24 percent of full-time workers did work at home in 2017, and that number is set to rise as workplaces adopt more location-flexible policies. The new entrants to the workforce are expected to expedite this change. Pepperdine University found that 69 percent of millennial workers say that they don’t need to work in an office regularly to do their jobs.

Because many employees work remotely full- or part-time, you must ensure that your video conferencing, chat, calendaring, and email software are easy to access across all platforms. Investment in communication and project management software like Slack, Asana, and Trello, which simplify team collaboration across locations, has also become essential to the modern workforce. To provide a seamless connection to the cloud-based tools your team uses, ensure your office has a fast, reliable, and secure internet connection to support the multiple connected devices and large amounts of data that employees rely on.

Beyond the software tools your employees use to do their work, how they work has shifted as well. As job functions grow more specialized, teams must shift between collaborative and independent work. In 2013 Gensler found that employees spent 54 percent of their time on work requiring individual focus, up from 48 percent in 2008. In addition, CNBC reported that 58% of high performance employees (HPEs) need more private spaces for problem solving, and 54% of HPEs find their open office environment "too distracting.”

To empower employees to do their best work, office layouts should include spaces for individual work as well as team collaboration. Gone are the drab, beige cubicles of the 1990s and a one-design-fits all approach to the office space. Many modern offices now includes libraries for quiet focus, and large work tables, standup meeting areas, and white board walls to encourage collaboration. In addition, to cut down on the noise in open plan offices, companies are installing phone booths for calls and video chats. To simply the scheduling of these spaces you can use software like Robin, which makes it easy to monitor and optimize their use.

Finally, employees expect a personalized workspace experience that reflects their lifestyle and values. They may want healthy snacks, like unsweetened yogurt and fresh fruit, as well as customizable drinks like cold brew, kombucha, or a smart water cooler, such as a Bevi, that enables them to select flavors of sparkling water. Understanding that we live in a global, connected world, they also expect their employer to be a responsible, corporate citizen. This includes participating in workplace recycling programs, reducing energy consumption, and engaging in community service projects.

 

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Streamlined, efficient processes

The digital transformation has created the expectation of a “frictionless” experience for consumers, and employees now expect a similar experience within their workplace.

Office managers and office operations professionals have long been charged with creating efficient systems for organizing the chaos of the office and ensuring employees have what they need to do their jobs effectively. In the digital office, office managers are also technology managers, and can use ticketing software like Hivy to collect, prioritize, and manage employee requests and communicate with their team.

Office managers also are shifting to software-powered processes for sourcing, ordering, and tracking office supplies and services. Companies like Snacknation, Fresh Direct, and Peapod make it easy to place recurring orders for office snacks, while catering companies like Seamless, ZeroCater, Stadium, and FoodtoEat simplify the process of planning customized team meals. Managed by Q has also brought a digital approach to office services. Instead of spending hours researching vendors online, our platform enables office professions to find pre-vetted vendors, receive and compare quotes, set up recurring services, and pay for them through a single invoice.

The digital transformation has also altered the role of Human Resources and how companies source and recruit talent. While diverse pools of talent are now more accessible, recruiting departments often receive an overwhelming amount of applications for open positions. Software like Greenhouse enables recruiters to better collect applications and track applicants through the interview process. To source stronger candidates for specific roles, company recruiters are often choosing to work with companies like Managed by Q to help recommend pre-screened, qualified candidates for specialty roles, such as office operations positions.

 

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What’s next?

As smart homes and connected appliances gain traction in a consumer market, especially with the widespread use of technologies like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Canary, and Nest Cams, increased connectivity and use of smart systems and devices will be adopted more widely in office spaces.

Many offices have already adopted security and access control systems that enable remote monitoring of security camera footage and mobile access to the office. Other office systems, such as lighting and HVAC, will become more responsive to enable a more efficient use of energy and a personalized workplace experience. There are already several programmable “smart light bulbs” on the market that enable nuanced adjustments of the strength and warmth of the light throughout the day, which can increase employee health and productivity. Similar to home thermostats, office heating and cooling systems will become customized for specific spaces and remotely controlled, ending common employee complaints about office temperature extremes.

The digital transformation may be upending the traditional ways of conducting business, but it also offers an opportunity to build greater efficiency into your workplace processes and create a modern, personalized office experience for your employees. To assist in the digital transformation of your office, Managed by Q can help you streamline your office systems, connect you with vetted service providers, manage design and renovation projects to modernize your workspace, and source job candidates who are well versed in running the digital office.

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