How to build a more effective workplace
If you want to glimpse the workplace of the future, visit Box's new smart headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. The cloud storage company has designed an office complex that combines ultra-fast Wi-Fi, mobile "anywhere" communications, and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. When you arrive at Box, a mobile app linked to building-wide sensors recognizes you and provides you with turn-by-turn navigation to the correct meeting or work space within the company's 334,000-square-foot, seven-floor facility. Employees and visitors can quickly and easily find conference rooms or work desks, freeing up time for innovation and collaboration.
This is just one of the many benefits of marrying workplace design with technology. We call this the world of intelligent spaces, where employees can be productive, seamlessly and securely, anywhere, anytime, whether in a quiet work space, a conference room, a boardroom, or even an outdoor space such as a rooftop café. This is a world in which every employee has fast and complete access to the applications and data they need and can use any mobile device to schedule space, operate electronic whiteboards or projectors, or set up video conference calls.
How is this achieved? By ensuring that every technology and facility design decision is laser-focused on a single objective: Creating a workplace that adapts to how people want to work. Getting this right will allow organizations, small or large, to orchestrate workflows for maximum efficiency and productivity. And if done right, it will unleash the kind of innovation, creativity, and productivity needed to compete in the new digital economy.
Digitizing your workplace
Many companies have already made great strides in digitizing their workplaces—basic Wi-Fi and video conferencing are now very common. And closed-door offices and cubicle farms have given way to open-space designs, casual meeting areas, food bars, and other amenities that encourage idea sharing and other collaborative exchanges among workers.
Yet we still have a long way to go when it comes to creating intelligent spaces. Too much friction and inefficiency hampers our office environments. Many creative and talented workers still remain shackled to desks on which sit hard-wired computers that act as their main—and sometimes only—access point to the applications, software, and data they need to do their work.
The corporate world is moving away from a hierarchical organization structure toward a team-based architecture. Today, teams need to form and disband depending on the project at hand. Cross-functional teams meet when necessary to make sure a new product launch is on track or when a new digital marketing initiative needs adjusting. This means employees need the right tools to work in a fluid environment where they and their colleagues can collaborate whenever and wherever the need arises.
For example, why do so many workers have to struggle to locate and reserve conference rooms? When they arrive at these spaces, why are they often unable to access the information they need to conduct their meeting? Why does presenting or sharing information require burdensome technologies that must be delivered and implemented by an IT professional?
Imagine a world where workers can set up a meeting with the touch of a smart screen, invite people from different departments, share data and files, and at the same time loop in an expert who might be sitting in a company subsidiary in Singapore. This world already exists. Employees at the new 230,000-square-foot Santa Clara, Calif., campus of Aruba have rapid and secure access to all applications and data at all times, the ability to find colleagues or reserve conference rooms using mobile devices, and wireless projection for idea or information sharing.
Aruba invested in its facilities to make employees happier. The company realized that to attract and retain the most talented workers, it must provide employees with a modern, digital environment where they can work efficiently and seamlessly. For many workers, these factors are just as important as pay and benefits when choosing an employer. In fact, among employees who work for companies that pursue mobile strategies that support the ability to work anywhere and at any time, 49% say those strategies make them more productive and 38% say they make them more satisfied with work, according to a 2016 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Better working through design
Many organizations have little or no visibility into how their facilities are being used or how productive their employees and processes truly are. And these businesses may also be losing—or worse, failing to attract—the talented employees for whom the physical space in which they work is increasingly important. Static, unattractive work environments that lack support for spontaneity continue to constrain workers and prevent them from realizing their full potential. Such environments have also meant enormous costs for organizations in terms of lost productivity and inefficiency, as well as forgone opportunities for new ideas and innovations, and revenue and profits.
Many organizations have implemented piecemeal solutions to these problems, of course, including innovative facilities, architecture, and technology. What continues to elude even these forward-thinking companies, however, is a fully harmonious workplace where information technology and facilities work together seamlessly to deliver an ideal user experience. This is the experience that talented digital workers want and increasingly demand.
Creating this truly harmonious experience requires a fundamental rethinking of how the workplace is designed. Facilities and information technology, the physical and the digital, for too long have been silos considered and created separately from each other. They must be integrated, and decisions about technology and workplace design—finally unified—must always be considered through the lens of the people actually doing the work.
The good news is that the mobile-first, cloud-first and IoT technologies that enable such intelligent spaces already exist. To enable these environments, IT departments need to deliver:
- Secure, untethered, and consistent connectivity anywhere
- Consistent workplace productivity solutions across all devices
- Collaboration solutions with cloud economics
- Insight and experiences driven by location services and connected things
- Context and automation that delivers efficiency and promotes innovation
These are the building blocks of a truly digital workplace. Hewlett Packard Enterprise can deliver them, along with the map to connect them with existing facilities and legacy systems to integrate islands of technology functionality and curate a true user-centered work experience.
Five basic steps for transformation
HPE Pointnext, the services organization of HPE, can accelerate this transformation to the digital workplace, starting with a mobile-first campus and branch network and universal productivity access from any device. This combination provides reliable and dynamic collaboration forming the foundation upon which to build and create immersive, IoT-enabled intelligent spaces.
The workplace transformation to intelligent spaces consists of five steps. First, connect and protect organizations with a Wi-Fi network that delivers capacity and performance above and beyond any wired connection. Then add location context with indoor location services and Microsoft's cloud productivity suite of applications to provide the tools users need. Follow that with deployment of the latest productivity solutions to enable employees to identify and make the best use of work spaces, including meeting rooms, huddle spaces, and desks. Finally, pull all the parts together with digital workflow and expert integration of identity and location data, facility availability, and calendars, for an experience that maximizes workflows and minimizes friction, bottlenecks, and slow points in employees' workdays.
Of course, each business and organization is unique. There are no off-the-shelf, turnkey solutions. Instead, HPE works with your organization, taking its workflow needs, and goals into account, to design a tailored solution that works.
Organizations now have an opportunity to transform and integrate the technologies they use and the physical spaces in which they work. In doing so, they can create workplaces that truly support their employees, bringing them together to inspire one another, spark innovation, and ultimately thrive in the new digital economy.
Case study: Creating a virtuous cycle
Consider this scenario: A multinational telecommunications company finds it is not using the space at its regional headquarters efficiently. In addition, employees are opting to work from home more than the company would like, limiting opportunities for collaboration.
It's a common problem that's hitting corporate America's bottom line. The U.S. General Services Administration has estimated that, on average, unused employee work spaces cost organizations $10,000 to $15,000 per employee annually.
The company in question overcame these issues by creating a "Next Generation Workplace" that incorporated cutting-edge workplace technology, reduced location costs, delivered new efficiencies around employee communication and collaboration, and increased overall employee satisfaction.
In collaboration with HPE, the company designed and implemented a new facility that uses state-of-the-art, context-aware technologies. Instead of fixed and named desks, the focus is on flexible working: shared desks, "hot desking," and easy-to-use collaboration technology. Employees can work virtually and cross-functionally. Multiple collaborative spaces encourage spontaneous conversations.
In this way, the company was able to create a virtuous cycle: By building a work environment that fosters collaboration, productivity, and innovation, it is able to attract and retain the best employees.
Workplace of the future: Lessons for leaders
- Ensure that every technology and facility design decision is laser-focused on a single objective: creating a workplace that adapts to how people want to work.
- Intelligent spaces are becoming vital as the corporate world moves away from a hierarchical organization structure and toward a team-based architecture.
- Dynamic work environments and user choice promote employee engagement which maximizes their full potential.