The future of work has changed.
In the fall of 2019, thinking and planning for the future of work was a strategic exercise. Today, defining and executing practices for the “future of work” is a matter of survival for every business and organization.
The urgency is so great that it’s become a hot topic for the world’s top consulting firms. McKinsey and Deloitte have researched, explored, and discussed the topic. Just recently, Gartner released a report addressing one of the commonly embraced “future” work environments today: the hybrid workplace.
(You can learn more and access the Gartner® report, “Quick Answer: 5 Things Digital Workplace Leaders Must Do to Support the Hybrid Workplace” here.)
There is a simple reality for businesses today. We need to be flexible. We also need to reexamine the processes by which we communicate, collaborate, and share information. And, of course, information and data security are a topmost priority.
The best processes, technologies, and services will vary from organization to organization, depending on what work model they chose.
This guide aims to:
Throughout this article, you’ll also find links to related content should you want to explore any given topic in greater detail. Let’s get started…
Gartner states: “As organizations worldwide attempt to return to offices, employees demand continued flexibility in their ways of working.”1
In a word, the future of work can be defined by that word – flexibility.
Flexibility in the workplace creates what is being called a hybrid work model. Sometimes employees are in the office, sometimes they are not. Some employees need to work in the office more while others may be working from the home office more often.
There are advantages to this work model. For example, you have a larger talent pool to find employees when you can literally hire anyone from anywhere in the world.
But this comes with challenges too.
The implications of the hybrid work model for organizations creates challenges in several areas.
These seven challenges are only examples of those facing organizations today. You may find yourself facing challenges specific and unique to your business as a result of today’s demand for flexibility.
To develop the best work model for your organization and address these challenges and more, you may find it best to first define which work model best fits what you need to do business.
In the report "CIOs Need to Embrace Radical Flexibility to Drive the Post COVID-19 Work Experience" published earlier this year, Gartner® defined four types of trending work environments as follows2:
The idea of the digital workplace has been around for a long while. Descriptions, however, vary, often depending on the perspective of the organization defining it. For example:
We define the digital workplace as bringing “people together by leveraging technology to empower integrated, secured communications, employee productivity, and competitive advantage to create seamless employee and customer experiences, enhance business agility, and drive business forward.”
In practice, the digital workplace reduces – or replaces – paper-based processes with digital documents and communication and makes it possible to work anywhere.
And that, today, is exactly the type of environments organizations of every kind are finding it necessary to embrace to some degree.
Read more about the digital workplace in “A guide to the digital workplace: How to make it dynamic, secured, connected – and successful.”
You can also explore the four pillars on which the digital workplace rests here.
What does your workplace look like today?
It probably looks very different from how it did at the beginning of 2020. And here’s perhaps the most relevant question –
What will your workplace look like tomorrow?
If you’re reading this article, it means you may be looking for ideas. Be assured, you are not alone. Our workplace services consultants work with businesses of many different sizes in a variety of industries to help them design and implement solutions to address their specific needs.
The simple reality is that we need to reimagine our workspace. We can begin by asking questions, such as:
These may be high level questions, but that’s the best place to get started as you begin to reimagine what your workplace will look like.
A lot of factors will determine exactly what your hybrid workplace looks like. Yet, while the details will differ, the process will the same. You need to:
These four steps are very general. Here’s a closer look at each with tips on what to do.
Needs include those of customers and your employees. Both are vitally important to consider. Your customers are your reason for being in business, but your employees keep you going. The business itself have needs that should be considered. You may also want or need to consider the needs of your vendors and partners.
Define key business activities
In this step, you want to define the activities that make your business “go.”
What you define in this step will be important in the next.
Prioritize and evaluate processes
Every activity has a process behind it. As you look at your key business activities, you want to identify the ones that are most important and most affected by the change to how and where we work. These will be your top priorities to address.
Creating seamless processes – or at least streamlining processes – is vital to both productivity and data security, each impacting your customers.
Choose the tools that enable you to deliver for your customers
Your hybrid workplace needs to deliver for your customers and keep your employees engaged and productive, while still offering them the flexibility they need to keep pace in their own lives.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to you. This includes the technologies you need to make your hybrid work model efficient and effective.
Many companies like Ricoh that provide business technology, especially in the form of workflow automation, document management, and digital services can help.
For more details on what the future of work looks like, check out this ebook: “Your Hybrid Workforce is Defining the Future of Work.” (No email required, just click the link, download and view.)