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How to create the modern workplace

Flexible workplace, the New World of Work and sustainable leadership. The terms flying around in boardrooms and offices are many and not always self-explanatory, not to mention all the technical terms and abbreviations for new roles and titles. Remaining in an old way of working may feel safe, but will it last? Spoiler: no, it doesn't.

The modern workplace is not a place

Microsoft is one of the leading players in the development of the digital office, but its commitment extends far beyond apps and cloud services. Henrik Byström, business unit manager at The New World of Work (DNA), is constantly looking beyond technology to put it in a wider context. He knows what lifts a workplace out of old ruts and into a whole new world.

  • What characterises a modern workplace is its ability to link technology, place and people into a whole, says Henrik.

Henrik asks us to think back to the days before smart phones and cloud computing. How did you connect to your company's servers to download files or just check emails? It was probably a glorious tangle of modems, VPN tunnels, passwords and mounted disks in the file manager. Useful at best, but hardly user-friendly. Today, businesses are increasingly "in the cloud" and as employees we expect to have access to all the information we need on the device we have in hand.

Don't think flexible, think situational

Many companies talk about flexible working, but Henrik prefers to call it situational. It's about more than just leaving work early to pick up from the nursery and then catching up at home.

Imagine you're taking the train to visit a friend for the weekend. You start at the office to have coffee with colleagues and go to a meeting. You go home to work undisturbed for a while. In the afternoon, you go to a café at the train station and have a coffee while waiting for the train, which is late. With a coffee in hand, you answer a few emails. On the train, you take the opportunity to write that report that you have to present on Monday.

  • Today, technology allows us to adapt our work to the site, and the new tools make this possible. When technology, place and people work together, there is room for productivity.

When several generations need to work together

All employees come with different backgrounds, experiences and habits. Young people are often used to working on mobile devices without feeling the need for a fixed workplace. More established employees may prefer email and a laptop with a docking station for a larger screen. The company must ensure that the tools the group needs are available and that they interact in the best way, then it is up to the manager to help the group maximise their potential in an open dialogue. Traditional leadership has been replaced by situational leadership that coaches the group rather than pointing the whole hand.

A culture where innovation and experience meet and where different approaches are seen as an asset creates commitment. A popular expression of such a culture is the Growth mindset or continuous learning, both of which characterise a culture in which both companies and individuals can grow.

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  • The culture of the office is central to creating engagement. If you have a culture where everyone is happy, understanding and respect between departments, functions and generations is created, which lays the foundations for collaboration in the common tools.

Don't build a nice office, build for people

Many companies looking to refurbish their premises focus on the space and furniture itself. There is a risk that form takes precedence over function when seductively beautiful 3D interior sketches are presented. Activity-based offices have been shown in several research projects to be a recipe for success in making offices more productive and employees happy at work. It's a great way to break down silos and old patterns as people from different departments work together in a new way.

  • It's important not to focus only on the space and forget about the people and technology when redesigning the office for activity-based working. It's only when all three - technology, place and people - work together as a whole that the big gains are made, Henrik points out.

Our digital tools, AI and security

The security of the flexible office has also changed. From relying on firewalls and virus protection on local networks, security is now about managing data and user identities securely in the cloud. Security today encompasses everything that happens and, if managed properly, even becomes an enabler. Sharing documents securely online? No problem. Collaborate with people outside your organization without leaking data? It's perfectly possible. Mobile, flexible and situational working would not be possible without modern security. Modern security that needs the support of AI to work.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon be present in some form in every digital tool and device we use, at work and at home. AI has become an enabler and a support that not only improves data collection and processing, but also communication between customers and businesses and between people and technology.

  • AI is not about filling our offices with a bunch of robots. Instead, it's about harnessing AI effectively to help us do a better job and have a sustainable working life with smart tools that fit the situation. AI will be what links the technology site and the human in the New World of Work, concludes Henrik.

Do you have the tools and security to work in a situational way and support employees to work effectively, in the way that suits the location? In the workshop DiscoverIT we look at the tools, in SecureIT the focus is on security. Book a workshop today!