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What is a Modern Workplace?

Sue Woodward | 19 September 2019

What is a Modern Workplace?

Being more productive and delivering quality work is a universal goal

In a series of conversations with people, the notion of a Modern Workplace is explored – the environment, tools, and the culture that enables people to do their best work and enjoy it at the same time. The first conversation is with a millennial.  See if their view resonates.

A Millennial’s Perspective of Modern Workplace

Microsoft is calling out to businesses to ‘get modern’ with M365, a cloud-based solution with the benefits of simplifying the IT environment, providing staff with tools to be more productive, improving business profitability, and making the IT environment more secure.  It is a pure technology interpretation to a Modern Workplace.

Being more productive and delivering quality work is a universal goal – to business and to staff.  Life is busy, time is precious, gone is the 5-day, 9 to 5 week. People now work in different ways, with many functions automated.  Business wants the best out of their staff, and staff want to do their best work for business.  Welcome to today’s workplace challenges and expectations.

But what is a modern workplace?  What does it look? What’s the mood, style? What are the essential tools? Is it a physical or digital environment or both?  Explore different people’s views with Sue Woodward, Principal, Blueprint Advisory who has years of corporate strategy and marketing experience both in-house as part of the c-suite, and consulting.

What is a modern workplace to a millennial?  What environment, organisational style and tools do they need to perform at their best and to be productive?

Flavia Fontana is 28 years old, an engineer, having studied IT and Automation Engineering for 5 years.  Here’s her take on a modern workplace.

“It’s an environment built around me; where information and data are at my finger-tips, instantly 24/7. My workplace is part of my everyday life.  It is a place where I feel I belong and am part of a community. In a nutshell, the modern workplace is a lifestyle built on trust and made possible by technology.” says Flavia.

“My workplace is carried in my bag, held and accessed in my hand regularly, anywhere – at XCentral, in the car, at my apartment, at community work-hubs, with clients at their premises. I am device agnostic – mobile, desktop, laptop, and brand agnostic; they all connect to my digital world of documents, data, systems, internet, apps.  When one runs out of ‘juice’, another takes over.”

“At XCentral we use Teams which is part of M365. This is now allowing me to do most of my work from one environment, one workplace. I am not flipping in and out of multiple apps or systems. For instance, our document management system is within Teams.  Documents can be authored by numerous people at the same time, with real time saving and edit referencing.  90% of my meetings are done with Teams – either video or calls – with people inside and outside the company.  We share screens and share and author documents.  There is chat and email; again I don’t have to leave the workspace.”

“I never worry about outage or security as I know work has this covered.  Systems are reliable, things just happen in the background without disrupting the way I work.  I know the system is secure, there is little chance of being hacked.  I also know what to look out for with hackers as I receive regular information and training.”

It seems a modern workplace to you is all about technology that you can access on any device, anywhere, anytime.

“No that is not correct.  It is not all about technology.  Technology is one component of a modern workplace.  It is an enabler to working productively and collaborative.  It is only an enabler if the IT environment is properly designed, configured and connected.  And is secure.  Otherwise technology can be a hindrance to productivity and efficiency.”

“A physical environment and location are also important.  We are human beings and a strong part of our make-up is to interact, communicate, belong and socialise.  A physical location enables this. Whether the interior fit-out is funky, conservative, open plan, etc depends upon the culture of the company and the best way for staff to work.  All aspects of the location need to have good architecture, including the IT environment.”

Is there anything else that makes a modern workplace?

“The most important element, more important than technology and a physical location is trust.”

Trust. That is interesting.  Trust is something that is built over a long period of time, and often involves a range of situations.  Explain what you mean by trust.

“To me, trust is about feeling motivated and empowered to do my best work. It is not being micro-managed.  Technology enables business to see when we are working.  Trust is about allowing me to work to the job responsibilities set, to be accountable, to deliver outcomes, to make mistakes, and to learn.  You make an interesting point that trust is built over time.  Many of us millennials are impatient, and we have grown up on having things instantly.  Technology has contributed to our impatience.

My take-out from Flavia is that trust is core to a Modern Workplace.  Technology is an enabler to a Modern Workplace.

Trust starts with leadership and leadership need to ingrain this in the culture.  The spotlight is on them; staff are watching and assessing.

We are all reliant on technology to work when and where we want.  It can only enable if the IT environment is properly designed and built so that the technology solutions can be securely and reliably accessed anywhere, anytime.  What’s more, for staff to productive they need to understand how to use the technology tools to their full potential.

Many businesses don’t have the resources nor skills in-house to create the technology piece for a Modern Workplace.  A solution is to talk to businesses like XCentral who have a track record of creating modern, cost effective digital platforms and managing IT environments and core systems.

About the author:  Sue Woodward is Principal of Blueprint Advisory.  She has spent over 20 years in C-Suite Strategy and Marketing for national and international firms.  She is also an experienced Board director.