If you think of the workspace as nothing more than a (high-priced) roof over your employees’ heads, then you’re missing a great opportunity. The environment you create has the power to inspire creativity, attract and retain talent, and strengthen engagement with the organization’s mission.
The rise in remote work, perhaps counterintuitively, only increases the value of the workplace. Although employees may spend some of their workweek outside the office, it’s rarely an all-or-nothing proposition. What this trend does impact, though, is the importance of collaboration technology and video collaboration in particular.
“While the office is an important physical asset, companies should consider the workplace as another tool to help workers do their job,” write Joe Flynn and Jenna Meyers for Facility Executive.
Beyond foosball tables and free snacks, what today’s employees need most to do their jobs is the ability to easily and naturally collaborate. “Collaboration space, whether open or enclosed, needs to be supported by technology to be truly successful. If collaboration space is highly functional from this perspective, it will trigger spontaneous team gatherings and be used as intended. The more responsive a company is to technology, the greater it will support workforce productivity,” write Flynn and Meyers.
Working closely with IT to design collaboration spaces and the technology in them will create the most productive workplace. While IT will bring the technical expertise to select collaboration solutions with the best security and reliability, facilities leaders can keep the project focused on user experience, which is what ultimately determines success.
The ability to collaborate face-to-face regardless of location is key to effective collaboration, particularly in the age of remote working. The IT team can get mired in the feeds and speeds of video conferencing technology and forget that if it’s not simple to schedule, join, and participate with remote participants, users will start to avoid it. As experts in workplace design and simply users of collaboration technology themselves, facilities has a unique opportunity to ensure the office is filled with tech-enabled workspaces that employees love. And it’s when facilities and IT contribute in silos – the physical space and the technology respectively – that the workspace on the whole becomes frustrating.
There’s no need to delay the start of a meeting to track down 30-year-old technology to connect laptops and share content. A centrally-managed, cloud-connected solution that enables workers to wirelessly share up to four streams of simultaneous content side-by-side, allows for more efficient and natural collaboration.
In addition to designing workspaces that are conducive to collaboration, not all work is done in teams, so good facility design includes some quiet work areas to ensure that employees avoid the price of too much collaboration. “When employees have control over how and where they work, they choose space most productive for the task at hand. By creating open, inspiring areas that support collaboration as well as designing quiet spaces for concentrated work, the workplace can drive sharing of ideas, employee engagement, and a fostered sense of community,” write Flynn and Meyers.
Workspaces specifically designed for independent work also help reduce interruptions for employees who need the time and space to focus, thereby improving productivity. Employees know that if a colleague chooses a quiet space, then they should be left alone.
As we all know, the “task at hand” can often change moment to moment. Employees still need a way to easily engage with others, especially those not physically present. In a huddle room, a Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 can be paired with a mobile device to play the employee’s favorite focus music. When a question or idea comes to mind, the employee can see which colleagues are available with Skype for Business presence icons, and start a call with the touch of a button.
Video collaboration technology is not one-size-fits-all—facilities executives should be careful to use the right solution in the right space. The best way to understand the breadth of video collaboration solutions is to visit vendor showrooms. For example, Polycom Experience Centers in New York, Herndon (near D.C.), Austin, and San Jose, enable facilities executives to see video collaboration technology in action. Bringing your IT peers allows them to ask the tough questions about interoperability, reliability, security, etc. while you get ideas from staged workspaces. You can visit Polycom Experience Centers by registering for a Polycom Experience Day or booking a personalized demo.
Finally, keep this in mind: “The design of a corporate workplace delivers a message—to employees, vendors, customers, and the public—about a company’s values,” write Flynn and Meyers. Don’t let the remote work trend fool you into thinking this is any less important today than it was 10 years ago. Rather, it simply means that the office is an integral piece in connecting the organization’s workforce – wherever they happen to be that day.
Open, inviting areas balanced with quiet workspaces and integrated video collaboration tools convey that you value your employees and the contributions they make collectively through effective collaboration. The workplace isn’t simply a place to get things done, but a space that enables workers to improve their productivity, make human connections, and unleash their creativity.