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The workplace today is on the cusp of a revolution with many radical changes coming into play that will force directors and managers to change the corporate structure, and culture of their organisations.

Directors need to know what these changes are and what is coming down the line; by implementing the right technology they can underpin business transformation. If they are not prepared and willing to adapt accordingly then they will be left behind.

The Generation game

One of the biggest influences in the sphere of corporate change is the surge of Millennials in the workplace. By 2025 they will make up 75% (Forbes 2013) of the global workforce, and the post-Millennial generation will follow. This generation has grown up with technology: social media, instant messaging, and video conferencing are all part of their DNA. They expect such technology to be available in the workplace and to be able to use their own technology to work with (BYOD), to help them communicate better and do their jobs more effectively.

With the advent of technology and the arrival of the Millennials the workplace has never seen greater differences between generations of employees. Businesses need to be aware of how to manage such diverse groups within their workforce.

Millennials also want to work for companies that are transparent and adopt an open and honest culture where there aren’t barriers between workers of different levels, and everyone knows what’s going on in the business.

Mobile working

Workforces are increasingly becoming more mobile and more employees want to work flexibly and have the ability to work from anywhere. Whether that’s at home, at a coffee shop, or at an airport – wherever – location is not important.

The technology is available to enable remote working and employees that work this way communicate more effectively, their productivity increases, and they are more satisfied.

Intelligent customers

Competition is fierce in a 24/7 ‘always on’ culture that puts those on the spot that struggle to meet customer demands for immediate product and service delivery. Customers are no longer patient and companies only get one chance to impress. If they don’t their reputation is on the line as consumers are quick to turn to social media to share their feedback.

Embracing change

With such a plethora of external and internal influences Senior Management teams should look at existing management structures and cultures, and adapt them accordingly to the ‘brave new workplace’.

Customer Experience is no longer just the responsibility of the contact centre or a marketing department, and it is essential that the Senior Management team take the onus and champion customer experience through the business in order for it to succeed.

The biggest barriers to implementing technology are policies and silos between the different departments, and the disconnect between the IT department and the business. For companies to adapt to the modern workplace and its demands it is essential that these barriers are eradicated.

Senior Managers and departments need to communicate and collaborate to understand what they do and what needs to be done. Therefore it is vital that the workplace should become more transparent, starting with Directors sharing the business plan, strategies and objectives with teams throughout their organisation. This will create an open environment where everyone is involved and working towards the same plan and goals.

Unified Communications technology can help improve communications and team working so that employees can use the same tools in or out of the office to communicate via the phone, mobile or video and audio conference calls. Solutions such as Microsoft Office 365 enable employees to share documents and collaborate on projects together.

Through creating a transparent environment a flatter management structure will occur organically. And a more ‘grassroots bottom up’ approach will exist where Directors/managers get more involved with different departments, and the silos between the departments start to dissolve.

This environment will naturally produce more fluidity within job roles where people will potentially be less pigeonholed into specific roles, and will start to become more involved in different departments and roles. This will benefit the business, as employees will still have specific specialist job function skills that will be utilised across the business, and with the open environment they should be encouraged to share ideas and feedback. As a result, the business will flourish with more ideas and valuable feedback available. Employees will become more commercially rounded rather than focused on a single task.

The lines of the traditional job roles have started to blur already. Traditionally, IT managers were recruited solely for IT and technical remit. Now companies have identified the need to connect technology to business transformation. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are appointed to close this gap and to identify opportunities that technology can bring to the business overall, and not just in the IT department. However not all businesses have the luxury of appointing a CIO, so many now want IT managers who are business savvy and not just technically sound.

Another example is the HR Manager who historically would focus on HR policies and procedures, but with the new increasing demands of the changing workplace they have to work closely with the Board and IT to meet employees’ requirements.

Technology for business transformation

The answer to the challenges of today’s modern workplace lies in the deployment of the correct technology and utilising it accordingly, to benefit your employees and your business. It is important to realise that just by implementing the technology you will not generate the results required, you also have to embrace and hone a culture change alongside it.

Taking all of this on is a massive undertaking for any business and it is advised that you recruit a solutions and managed services provider to guide you through the change process. The right solutions provider will work closely with you to understand your business, ascertain your needs and select the right technology that is suited to your business. They will conduct discovery workshops and focus groups to understand how to make your employees’ lives easier and how to improve communications, efficiencies and ultimately customer service.

It is important then to champion the culture change and drive it through the business. With the silos between departments gradually blurring you will have to ensure that guidelines on project ownership are in place to avoid internal politics, and the right training is available, plus that the technology is continued to be used and is not just a fad.

The rules of the game are changing and will continue to do so, stay ahead of the game and embrace the brave new world of the workplace.

By Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies