Expert Speak

How Organizations Are Looking At People-Driven Workspace


—-By Nick Hawkins

The focus is now more around how an individual interacts within the organization and the value that comes from those interactions. A recurring theme was that the idea of the “knowledge-driven organization” reigning supreme is over. “Knowledge” has become commoditized in many ways: information is easily researched online, both on the Intranet and the Internet.

Witness how the instant use of a Google search has stopped many a good discussion and disagreement on facts in its tracks! In some cases knowledge is now going further and moving beyond being a static collection of information, but instead of becoming an adaptive, learning entity to assist human specialists – you need to look no further than IBM’s Watson and its ability to process massive amounts of data as well as learn from that data to see the direction “knowledge” is going.

The new focus for successful organizations is looking at human relationships – how to get the most out of people, encourage them, create interactions and ideas that might otherwise not happen.

Creating a high quality workspace culture helps encourage the best and brightest to join an organization, but also helps encourage more productive conversations. One small example of this: Google is well known for offering staff free gourmet meals at their office locations. But did you know that they proactively manage the queue length? Apparently three to four minutes’ waiting is optimal to ensure people are still encouraged to use the cafeteria, but generates enough time to talk and interact whilst in the queue – human nature suggests that people will chat whilst waiting; chats become ideas, and ideas become projects.

It might be easy to encourage human interactions when all your employees are in one location but how do you manage and encourage such activity in today’s disparate work environments?

The workplace of the future has become significantly more diverse – work is an activity now, rather than a location; it’s what you do, instead of where you work. Users may be hot-desking, temporarily resident in a project space, working offsite at a customer office, or working from home. With workforces becoming increasingly distributed, there is a danger of them potentially being isolated rather than involved as an integral member of their teams.

The good news is that today’s collaboration tools make it easy for anyone to remain connected with team members, as well as customers, suppliers, and so on. The range of tools and solutions are varied and continue to evolve, whether it is connecting to a collaboration session from a Web browser using Polycom RealPresence CloudAXIS, connecting from a desktop or tablet using Polycom’s mobility solutions, or connecting from a meeting room – there is a solution to suit every need and budget.

Whilst the tools are readily available many users still think of collaboration as a specific, scheduled event (a meeting), rather than an on-going activity(conversations), throughout the workday. But with a little creativity it is possible to use collaboration tools to recreate a face-to-face team operation, but delivered in the virtual domain.

One approach is to have a permanent virtual meeting room for the team. Users can dial-in, drop off etc. as needed. Participants can stay on mute unless they need something from one of the other team members. This allows you to create a similar team spirit to an open office environment, where team members can see who is around, ask questions and get immediate answers.

Another approach is to create a virtual cube using a video endpoint. So for users who are sometimes working from home, but also have a space in the office, they can always be present when someone walks to their cube for a chat, even if they are not physically present.

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