By Opeyemi Olaniran, Business Group Director, Cloud, Microsoft Nigeria
The workplace as we know it is evolving. Nearly half of executives believe that by 2020, technology such as cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have an impact on their way of working.
This will have a significant impact on how they meet their bottom-line objectives. Simultaneously, millennials, as well as the first set of Gen Z employees, are becoming more prominent in the world of work. With this influx, comes a fresh, new way of thinking about workplace culture.
Employers are discovering that the old, rigid style of thinking – with employees clocking in for eight hours of work at the same desk and computer every day – is no longer efficient in addressing modern problems and needs. Instead, to survive and thrive in a time of digital transformation, it is essential for them to embrace the autonomy and flexibility enabled by technology.
This shifting landscape and new way of thinking is giving rise to what’s known as the modern workplace. Here are four trends that are shaping the modern workplace and transforming the way we work:
Work anytime, anywhere
By 2020, the global workplace will be less centralised, extremely mobile and more flexible. In fact, 98 percent of enterprises acknowledge that their employees are working from many different locations, on various devices.
Additionally, freelancers are on the rise worldwide. This new way of working means that employers have had to change and implement modern solutions that enable employees to collaborate and communicate more effectively over long distances and in real time.
Working in the cloud is the starting point – ensuring that information can be accessed anytime, anywhere. A service like Microsoft 365 goes a step further to address employees’ needs to work remotely by working across Windows, iOS and Android.
This means employees aren’t limited to working on certain devices but are able to pick up from where they left off on any device they choose.
While this way of working provides greater flexibility to employees, it also introduces new complexity when it comes to securing company data.
Sensitive data is no longer confined to the four walls of a physical office and is accessible across many employee devices.
Microsoft 365 addresses this by including security and device management capabilities in a complete, intelligent and secure solution that protects employees, data and devices.
Teamwork enhanced, not diminished
When remote working is the order of the day, it’s easy to assume that teamwork will go out the window. However, developing teams that can work together effectively is a top priority for most businesses. In fact, Gartner recently highlighted collaboration tools as one of the main themes of the digital workplace.
The amount of time employees spend in a collaborative environment has increased by 50 percent.
With Microsoft 365, employees have a modern toolkit for teamwork, giving them the right tools for the right task. Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork, bringing together conversations, meetings, files and apps into a single canvas.
These apps and services are integrated and connected with one another so employees can work naturally across them and move fluidly between tasks.
Tools like this will no longer be a way to connect back to the workplace, but will become the workplace as teammates connect and collaborate, regardless of where they are located.
AI for a smarter workplace
The topic with the biggest buzz in the modern workplace is AI. It’s anticipated that almost every new device and service will contain AI in the next few years, which will have significant impact on the way we work.
Chatbots, which are fuelled by AI, will become a lot more popular in the workplace in 2018. Nearly 20 percent of companies have already deployed chatbots and this is expected to increase to nearly 60 percent by 2021.
Microsoft is infusing intelligence into people’s everyday lives by making it easier to create high impact content, automate routine tasks, and surface key insights from data.
Insights in Excel is a new service that makes it easier for everyone to explore and analyse their data. Translator brings 60 languages to Word, and Microsoft recently announced that dictation will be available across multiple apps in Office 365, allowing for the translation of spoken words into text.
Technology won’t take the place of culture
While businesses are moving towards a greater reliance on technology, company culture will remain an important contributor to job satisfaction and, by extension, productivity.
Millennial employees especially value a culture of flexibility and remote working.
A report from Deloitte shows they equally value a good work-life balance, which can be hard to achieve when they’re always connected.
Having a good company culture is no longer an option, and more and more businesses across the region are adapting their cultures to attract and retain millennial talent.
One popular way of enforcing a positive company culture and ensuring all employee requirements are met is by making use of shared workspaces for example.
By 2020, half of the workforce will be millennials. There’s no time like the present to modernise the workplace and build a culture employees love.
Enabling greater productivity
It’s well recognised that digital transformation unlocks new potential for organisations, but digital transformation isn’t only about technology. It’s about people.
The expectations, knowledge and skills of every employee in the business – as well as the tools they use for work – are determining factors in the level of transformation that any organisation can achieve.
When employees feel empowered to do their best work, they are engaged and satisfied. Providing them with a digital, flexible workplace plays a significant part in this enablement and results in higher productivity.
The goal of the modern workplace is to create an environment in which employees can enjoy secure, highly reliable platforms for exchanging ideas, having conversations, collaborating and doing their best work.