The workplace is an ever-changing landscape. From cubicles, fax machines, and desktops to open-space offices, laptops and storing files in the cloud, the workplace we know today has been evolving since the 1920s. Despite the progress the workplace has made over the past decades, there are still misconceptions and preconceived notions that haven’t changed with the times.
The workplace of the future is a flexible one, largely influenced by the rise of cloud-based technology and demands from the new, younger generation of workers. Before we got to this point and before we go any further, what are some common workplace productivity myths and how is technology dispelling them and creating the current workplace landscape as we know it?
Common workplace productivity myths
The most common workplace productivity myths I most often hear are that everyday work must be completed at one’s desk, on-prem solutions are safer than the cloud, and that a standard workday is from 9-5.
For example, it’s common for people to think that if an employee isn’t physically at their desk, that they can’t possibly be accomplishing their work. This might have been the case decades ago when technological advancements to facilitate communication and collaboration didn’t exist, but in today’s technology age, an employee’s work can be done in a variety of remote locations, desks not mandatory.
Second, on-prem solutions being safer than the cloud was a myth that has taken a long time to debunk. Promoting the cloud is a lot less evangelical than it used to be, but there are still organizations that require education to understand that the cloud is just as safe, if not safer than on-prem solutions.
Finally, a 9-5 job reflects the standard hours employees work; few employees work a standard 9-5 day. Employees often take work home with them and tend to be connected more often than they are not.
Prior to technological advancements, some of these myths were reality. If you think back to the Jetson’s cartoon, everyone thought that was so farfetched, and the advancements of technology in the workplace are no different. Imagine telling someone in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and beyond that they would be able to take their work home, on the road or anywhere they want; it would have seemed as farfetched as the Jetson’s! Or even looking back to the early 2000s when the cloud was just beginning to be a “thing” … anything SaaS was an evangelical sale; no one wanted to let their own intellectual property out of their own four walls.
Dispelling these myths
Dispelling the myth that “if you’re not at your desk you must not be working” is so simple - it starts with devices. Both laptops and mobile devices allow an employee to connect. But UC and UCC technology truly facilitates the ability to work together - be it collaborating on a document or presentation, having a video conference to simulate an in-person meeting, or instant messaging for quick communication.
Regarding the safety of the cloud, UC and UCC cloud-based solutions are as secure, if not more so than on-prem solutions, and offer so many additional benefits in the rapidly changing workplace landscape. The cloud is much less of an evangelical sale than it was even a decade ago. There are a number of reasons why the cloud makes sense, and recent security breaches at large organizations has quickly debunked the notion that on-prem is inherently more secure.
These days, not many people are working a standard 9-5, often considered both a blessing and a curse. With UC and UCC technology, the ability to facilitate communication and collaboration allows employees to work outside of “standard hours,” regardless of where they are. This makes it so work can be done at any time, regardless of time constraints. With cloud technology that UC and UCC technology provides, you can access your work from anywhere, whether that be on a plane, on your commute to and from work, or in a different country.
UC and UCC technology is changing the workplace landscape
UC and UCC technological advancements allow employees to communicate and collaborate in the manner that best suits them and their specific need – and that often changes depending on who they are communicating or collaborating with, what they are working on, and when they are available and need to address a particular item.
For example, a meeting might best be conducted utilizing video to be able to see how colleagues, prospects or customers are reacting to information. In another scenario, collaboration technologies might be ideal for groups working across different geographies and time zones so that they can work when they want but still work together.
The future of the workplace
Without a crystal ball it’s hard to say exactly where UC and UCC will go, but it is safe to say they will continue to facilitate the ability for employees to collaborate and communicate as close to in-person as possible. Technology will continue to aid and assist employees. Integrations are critical in creating a unified user experience across technology solutions and analytics will continue to be important to measure and evaluate their success. We are already seeing the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and bots and how this newer technology can help employees communicate and collaborate not only with one another, but with their prospects and customers as well.
Further, I see standard “work hours” being less about being physically present and more about being generally available - assuming employees get their job done and are accessible when needed, thus providing a better opportunity of work life balance.
The impact of a company’s culture on productivity
Company culture exists either because it has been fostered organically or because it has come from a top down approach. Regardless of how it came about, companies that get it right and understand how critical it is know and believe that their people are their most important asset and recruit and retain accordingly. The work hard mentality can be contagious if an organization’s culture facilitates the desire to do so versus a feeling of obligation. When employees see their colleagues working hard it becomes contagious. After all, they don’t want to be the “weakest link,” so they tend to step up to keep up with their colleagues. Furthermore, employees that work for organizations with good corporate culture often “play hard,” rewarding one another for the hard work they do and enjoy being together.
Implementing solutions that empower employees
Employees are an organization's most valuable asset and should be entrusted and empowered to do their job unless they give a reason for concern. That said, to encourage employees to do their job, employers must strive to give them all of the tools they need to be successful. Start by ensuring that you provide communication and collaboration tools that not only empower employees to do their job well, but that are also effective tools that do not impede their ability to do their job.
As technology solutions change (new tools are introduced and older tools are phased out), remember that change management is a critical part of any change. New solutions should be promoted and tied to how they will improve an employee’s ability to do their job. As older tools are retired, it is important to indicate why they are no longer going to be used/supported and what the relevant replacement(s) is. At the end of the day, technology solutions that help employees be more effective and efficient at doing their job are most likely to be successfully adopted.
Kara Longo Korte is director of product management at TetraVX.