Did you know that in many office environments now, up to 60% of desk space is vacant? Well, the fact is that 4x as many people are working outside the office compared to just five years ago. Not only are these people working away from the office, but statistics also suggest that they’re working on twice as many teams too!
If this trend is going to continue, which it is, as businesses we are going to need to adapt to accommodate these evolving practices. Increasingly “work” appears to be a thing we do and not a place we go.
Conventionally software was written to be accessed and used from a single location, sharing and collaborating without huddling around a workstation was difficult, to say the least. As time moved on, the need for “remote access”, whether it was for staff on the road, or those working from home increased. As such, software developers started to incorporate methods in which applications were available from locations outside the office.
However, although it was a huge leap forward, it just wasn’t quite the same, we had to use things such as VPN connections and RDP sessions to gain access, and although completely effective, they just didn’t feel as good as using a local applications on a PC, but it was an improvement, to say the least!
Why wasn’t it good enough?
Why when you had that remote connection was it is still not feeling like the real thing, or feeling seamless like so many other bits of tech in your life? Well, we can probably thank Apple for the steady increase in dissatisfaction. As everything else in your life was getting faster, more attractive, streamlined and “addictive” to use, business IT was just kind of stuck there, comfortable in its own safe place with its arms wrapped firmly around your company’s operations.
The thing is, that ivory tower of safety wasn’t going to last for long in business environments. The masses were becoming more comfortable doing whatever they wanted in other areas of their lives, seamlessly talking to Siri or instructing their Alexa, the pressure was going to gradually mount for the final piece of the puzzle to fit… Workplace technology.
Defining the Modern Workplace
So, here we arrive at the “Modern Workplace” the term that Microsoft has cleverly coined for the evolution of technology to meet the needs/demands of staff working in business environments today. So, what does it mean? Well, essentially it refers to the use of a Microsoft ecosystem, commonly referred to as 365, but more generally can mean the use of pure Cloud products such as Azure, 365, AWS etc.
The reason it’s important to take this shift in technology seriously is not only because the rate at which you’re going to be able to do business will start to decline relative to everyone else, but more importantly that to retain good staff, who want to share information rapidly, make fast decisions and “enjoy” using software will become more and more difficult.
This piece is not to try and promote 365 or other Cloud products, as that ship has already sailed and there is no going back. This article is to make it clear that there are certain steps you absolutely must take in your business over the coming months and years to stay relevant, competitive and a great place that people want to work in.
How do I start moving forward to a Modern Workplace environment?
- Start working with an IT partner who has genuine Cloud credentials, Microsoft, AWS, Google etc. and who can demonstrate the environment, ideally with a client in a live environment.
- Get staff interested in the project, have a demo arranged for Microsoft SharePoint, Teams, and Flow. The product doesn’t matter, what’s important is getting people hungry for improvement and excited about possibilities.
- Have a pilot group test the products, in a REAL environment, having a “play” will only get you so far, and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Work with your provider to set up some real data in the test area where people can really see it working.
- Encourage people to get mobile by downloading the Apps on their phones etc. there may be some resistance initially, but after they start seeing just how easily they can access their documents and collaborate on them, they’ll never look back.
- Identify old (legacy) bits of software and think critically about them. Are they really adding value? Or, is there just one chap who sits at the end of the warehouse printing off one label a week?
- Analyse data to find out where people are spending their time, with Microsoft Insights, for instance, it’s easy to see how much time your spending in emails or at meetings, or even how many emails you’re sending WHEN YOU’RE IN MEETINGS!
- Make collaboration and ease of access the priority, there will always be some small applications that won’t go easily but work with your provider to make the best of it and create a workaround, using RDS or Citrix for instance.
So, there you have it, just a few points to consider around the Microsoft Modern Workplace and how you can start working towards getting there. There are, of course, other things to consider, especially in larger environments, but it’s important not to think of it as cut and dry implementation. In most cases, it will be a longer, in-parallel way of working to ensure everyone is happy and comfortable.
In our experience, once people start using the new tools, and just seeing how smoothly things such as OneDrive, the SharePoint App and Teams work, the adopt these so heavily that their reliance on the old slowly but surely decreases with time anyway.