The nature of work is evolving. Gone are the days of the nine-to-five grind where an employee was chained to the desk for eight hours a day. Thanks to flexible workplace agreements, new technologies and an increase in employees working from home, a revolution is coming.
Traditional office spaces are making way for hot desking, collaborative breakout areas and meeting rooms that can be booked on-demand. Businesses of all sizes need to embrace a flexible approach to work and look to digital transformation to ensure they stay ahead of the curve and make the most of these rapid changes.
Ragavan Satkunam, Product and Marketing Manager, Communications & Workplaces at Ricoh Australia tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) employers need to rethink traditional notions of working patterns and embrace technology to maximise their workplace and workforce.
“The need for a rethink stems from the fact that traditional working patterns have changed.” Satkunam says.
“This means the office designs of the past are no longer the most appropriate fit for many organisations. As a result, growing numbers are beginning to rethink how their spaces are best used and deploying technologies to maximise their return on real estate spending.”
According to Satkunam the challenge becomes how best to adapt your space to match the needs of your business and your employees.
“There are estimates that the average utilisation of workspace in Australia is now just 60 per cent. Rather than spending all day at their desks, staff are out visiting clients or working from other locations, leaving desks empty.
“When you add in associated facilities such as meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, the challenge becomes even greater. Considering that the annual cost of a meeting room in a central business area can be more than $26,000 a year, it’s clear new approaches to office fit-outs and layouts are required,” he says.
Satkunam says the first step is adopting an approach that embraces activity-based working.
“Rather than having rows of cubicles assigned to individuals sitting idle for long periods, desk space is allocated to staff on a needs basis. When staff members are in an office, they can book workspace to match the activity they need to complete.
This might be desk space for making calls or checking email, a small meeting room for a group conversation, or a larger room from which they can connect with colleagues in other locations. When staff are working from another location, the shared desks and rooms can be utilised by someone else.”
Managed effectively, this approach is a win-win. A business can reduce the amount of floor space they need which equates to lowered costs and staff are still supported with the tools they need to work efficiently.
Satkunam insists digital transformation is key when it comes to creating an activity-based workspace. He suggests employing room booking tools, automating tasks, and introducing digital collaboration are all part and parcel of an agile workplace.
An agile workplace makes collaboration easy
“These tools can automate the task of booking meeting rooms and ensure all staff can see the status of rooms at all times. Bookings can be made either via a dedicated terminal in the office or through an intranet portal. Automation can also be applied to the task of assigning shared desk resources,” he says. “This allows staff to book a desk remotely and be confident that space will be available when they require it. Small digital displays on desks can also automatically indicate whether a particular desk has been booked or is free.”
Satkunam suggests digital signage can also assist staff who regularly work offsite to find their way to departments or meeting rooms. While occupancy sensors can monitor activity to assist with forward-planning and capacity allocation.
“An agile workplace can be further enhanced through the introduction of digital collaboration tools. For example, meeting rooms can be equipped with video conferencing facilities that allow staff to meet face-to-face even when in different physical locations,” Satkunam says.
Any business that is serious about transformation should also equip their staff with smart devices. With the right apps and software installed, employees can then collaborate and connect no matter where they are located.
“With staff in many organisations becoming increasingly mobile, having streamlined workflows in place is another important part of an agile workplace strategy,” adds Satkunam.
“The business benefits of workflow automation are significant. Rather than having to spend time on tedious and repetitive processes, staff can instead focus on more value-added activities.”
And who wouldn’t want that?
For your chance to WIN! a share of $50,000 worth of digital transformation packages for your small to medium business CLICK HERE to enter the Ricoh Small Business Competition.