Workplaces are embracing the flexibility of modern day working environments more so than ever before. Improvements in internet availability and hosted cloud solutions have enabled businesses to operate in ways that were almost unheard of ten years ago. As flexible working environments become more prominent, we take a moment to reflect and look at the bigger picture.
Is your organisation utilising the rapid advancement of ICT infrastructure and technology to best enable your staff to work with more flexibility? Businesses are becoming increasingly excited at the prospect of staff being able to work from wherever, whenever, allowing them to reduce their property footprint, local infrastructure footprint and offer staff more flexible working arrangements to benefit all parties involved. Modern IT solution design incorporates this sentiment wholeheartedly.
In this modern age of constant connectivity, all businesses should be considering how they can improve their infrastructure to improve flexibility, robustness, and availability.
The workplace has changed
The workplace isn’t limited to physical location like it once was. Gone are the expectations of working a set number of hours; productivity is the metric businesses seek to improve. Gone are the expectations of employees only requiring a very finite set of skills, roles and responsibilities. This ideology was designed for efficiency and effectiveness, before the information age went into full swing.
Fast forward to 2018 and the definition of ‘working’ has changed rapidly. Business critical information can be saved to secure shared locations in the cloud, ICT hardware is smaller, smarter and faster from end to end. Portability has changed the way we work. With the right infrastructure in place, working from a hot desk, from home, on the road, and in front of clients has shifted from a dream to a reality.
No longer are employees confined to an office. This fundamental change in working mentality shifted hand in hand with digital advancement. Information can now be exchanged faster and businesses can have a more productive focus. The skills an individual can bring to a position is expanding, as extra information is readily available wherever they are. Modern-day companies are being designed based on a flexible team-based structure which promotes adaptability, speed and agility.
As technological advancement occurs, this enables businesses to work more effectively, improving productivity, rather than creating redundancy.
- Productivity- Recent advances in all facets of ICT enable productivity. For example, we use a cloud-based phone and teleconferencing solution as our means of communication internally and externally which allows us to collaborate beyond the limitations of location. Our team can communicate and collaborate from anywhere, whether that be one of our three office locations, or remotely. Our outbound consultants can dial into full team meetings and training sessions at the click of button, whether that be via smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
- Standardisation - You can create flexibility within the office by standardising your teams IT setup. If everyone has the same equipment they will have flexibility to 'hot desk' simply by picking up their laptop and docking it to a docking station that is already set up with monitors. Hot-desking means that the team do not have their own desk, instead they setup in a convenient space. This allows you to create a more collaborative meeting space for your team, which is a lot more efficient than a pen and paper and having to type up minutes/actions when you return to your 'fixed work space' later.
- Reduce Property Footprint - If you have team members who are out of the office most days, having their own desk means it will be empty most of the time, so implementing hot desks means you no longer have all that dead space. You no longer need to have extremely large desks to cater for bulky desktop computers for each member of your team. Replacing large desktop workstations with notebooks and a docking station means you can reduce size of your desks, by extension not requiring as much office space as before. If your business outcomes can be achieved by allowing staff to work remotely, this set up can easily be implemented out of the office. With the use of WiFi technology there isn't a lot of cabling required either. Implementing hot desks is a great space saver.
What technology supports this working environment?You probably already have some methods in place that enable flexible working such as mobile data and a laptop but what else could you be doing to really function and be productive outside of the office?
- Portable equipment - flexible working could be home-based or being able to move from one location to another. In either of these situations, you will need the right equipment for your role. A salesperson might need a laptop with a long life battery and a small screen for portability and a smartphone for email when on the move. For team members that travel or just move around the office, a standardised laptop and dock are crucial time and frustration savers and productivity initiators!
- Unified Communication - while the latest mobile phones are impressive and great for modern communication, their calling functionality isn't (in most cases) suited for business environments. Investing in a Unified Communication platform for your entire team means that customers will still be able to ring a main phone number and everyone (or select groups) are able to pick up the call, whatever office or outbound location they are in. This creates flexibility across the board and allows your organisation to work towards allowing people to work remotely as these calls can be easily transferred to remote workers. Online presence indicators give your clients a better experience as you can visualise the availability of your team members making it easy to establish who is and isn’t available.
- Remote IT support - some businesses have in-house IT staff to look after hardware, antivirus, software and general break-fix issues that arise through anyone's workday. When working in different offices, across different time zones or between sites, you may not have the same access to your in-house staff, having an IT support contract with a vendor that offers a remote on-call type service might be just what you're looking for. Having outsourced IT support can save you money as it's typically cheaper than having full time IT staff. It also reduces infrastructure and property footprint. Ask us about how a managed services contract can benefit your business and remove some of the stresses associated with IT support.
- Internet connectivity/cloud-based services - Having a robust internet solution is critical in modern working environments. An entire world of cloud solutions and services can be utilised if a business has a sufficient internet connection. Reduce the fear of local hardware failure, lost data, failing backups and a lack of redundancy by moving business critical infrastructure to the cloud.
Is the above achievable?
This is absolutely achievable, not only can our customers be a testament to that, but this is how we operate at Think Concepts.
For us, we need to be fully equipped to look after our customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To do this we need to be able to access all documents and applications no matter where we are and be able to answer the phone no matter what time of day it is. Furthermore, our consultants are always out and about and our CEO travels between our offices every fortnight. Having an IT setup that helps us achieve our business outcomes has been the key to our success.
So what did we do to achieve this?
Each member of our team has a similar laptop that connects to the same style of dock. The business decision to standardise our internal hardware gives our team the flexibility to move between offices without hassle. Our CEO is a great example of this, she travels between our regional offices without hassle, whether it be a meeting with the marketing team, or the consulting team, it’s done with ease and efficiency.
Our application-based VoIP phone system allows us to manage calls through our laptops and smart phones. We are always contactable via the same extension and can pick up internal and external incoming calls without needing a physical phone. We can use our unified communications platform to join internal video conferences if not physically present, we can also invite external parties to join our conferences without hassle. All our files and customer documentation is available from anywhere, and is hosted in a secure cloud.
Our Wellington office was severely affected by flooding a little over a year ago. Our team were able to collaborate internally and decide on a plan of action to get operational. The only real considerations that needed to be taken were access to the Internet, and a physical workspace to setup and operate. We were able to achieve this from our CEO’s house, which was ideally located for the whole team. This was only achievable due to the inherent flexibility of our internal systems, and further reinforced that the business continuity decisions we had made allowed Think Concepts to operate even under these unique and undesirable circumstances.
Whether you’re interested in seeing how your organisation can benefit from workplace flexibility, interested in implementing some of the above solutions into your business roadmap, or just want to chat? We would love to talk to you.