The rise of the “modern workplace” has already begun. Here in Asia, workplaces are fast-changing due to the wide use of digital technologies in every area of work and personal life. Digital transformation, as it’s known, is expected to drive US$375.8 billion in spending in 2019 as APAC businesses adopt new practices, products, and services that enable them to improve employee productivity, connect with their customers and reduce costs in the long run. However, studies also reveal that only 16% of companies experience quantifiable gains from digital transformation, with cultural resistance forming a major barrier for businesses in Asia Pacific.
Creating a modern workplace
The term “modern workplace” often describes organisations that introduce new products or software in the workplace. However, transforming into a smart, digital, modern office requires more than just modern tools. It involves business leaders creating an environment where employees have access to democratised data, enjoy flexible and mobile ways of working, and can rely on a host of collaborative technologies to work seamlessly across departments and geographical locations. In short, true modernisation results in fully collaborative workplaces where more flexible processes integrate with technology to boost personal effectiveness.
However, business leaders still face entrenched difficulties when attempting to modernise their workplaces. Let’s look at one of the most basic and frequently used collaborative tools in the workplace – the video conference. A 2019 global survey of business professionals revealed that a staggering 85% of participants surveyed frequently experience issues with their online meetings, from audio and connectivity issues to outdated links and trouble retrieving meeting codes. In short, collaboration meeting solutions often waste time and curtail efficiency in the workplace. The solution, businesses are finding, is often a more holistic approach like Unified Communications that focuses on streamlining the connections between different technologies and the people who use them.
Re-shaping work culture
A modern and fully collaborative workplace aided by technology can bring immense benefits to both companies and their people. Doing so can also help change the culture of a workplace for the better. Providing cutting-edge, modern, digital cloud collaborative tools, for example, can reduce the risk of employees turning to shadow IT, and enables remote and flexible working arrangements which have been proven to lead to better work-life balance and increased productivity. Such tools can also empower employee groups with less mobility, such as those with physical impairments or mothers of young children. The result: a more equal playing field for a more diverse range of talents in the workplace.
Apart from equalising the playing field for employees of different circumstances, modernised workplaces tend to raise the effectiveness of all employees as an entire cohort. Teams can share and edit documents, schedule meetings and access documents in real-time with full visibility on who’s working on what. Private group chats and instant messaging also enable a freer flow of ideas and feedback where all team members can contribute. This makes people feel valued and their voices heard, supporting healthier, happier, and more inclusive working cultures that go well beyond the four walls of a physical office.
Employing modern tools
Modern workplaces, however, must deliver these benefits despite increasing complexity in our workflows and patterns. With teams often working across different time zones, locations and levels of infrastructure in Asia Pacific, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and people insights offer one way to smooth out traditional frictions of coordinating complex multi-location projects. An international survey showed that 95% of workers believe AI can improve work tasks, while 53% of organisations believe that smart meeting rooms will improve business processes. The right digital tools to connect and support employees, wherever they are, should encourage productivity, engagement, and collaboration.
Cognitive Collaboration is the latest collaborative tool by Cisco Webex Teams provided by Arkadin, using AI to provide facial recognition, real-time profiling of individuals and companies, and a virtual assistant run on simple voice commands. Using data pulled from calendars and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and combining it with analytics to identify patterns and relational clusters, the tool assists team members in finding the right information and sharing it with minimal friction, even in complex multilayered project environments. The result is a more intelligent, relevant and connected working experience where poor connectivity and sluggish retrieval of information no longer hinder productive collaboration.
Embracing the smart workplace is no longer optional, but rather essential for commercial growth, productivity and employee happiness. As the tools used for collaboration continue to evolve, the ability of business leaders to integrate them and gain employees’ acceptance will determine their ultimate effectiveness. With more than 50% of the world’s millennials living in Asia Pacific, the time is ripe for companies to embrace the modern workplace that this rising segment of the workforce expects from their employers. As more organisations leverage the smart workplace and adopt an organisation-wide strategy for digital transformation, they will reap the benefits of intelligent and cognitive collaborative tools that can transform their business.
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