The world of work is changing—again. The rise of technology has given us so much information that data guides virtually every business decision in the modern age. But now, we are in midst of transitioning from the information age to the collaboration age.
This means ensuring that people can collaborate on tasks without friction. That humans and machines work seamlessly together. And automation—machine to machine collaboration—will be crucial. Those businesses that get these elements right will be able to boost employee satisfaction and attract the best talent. They will reduce costs by automating mundane tasks and by requiring a smaller office footprint. It sounds good, but how do businesses transition from the information age to the collaboration age?

Weave Flexibility Into The Culture Of Work

For many employers, there’s not really an excuse to prevent people from working with more flexibility—it certainly isn’t a barrier to collaboration. There are now a variety of cloud-based applications that enable more collaborative, productive, agile working—regardless of location. These interfaces range from visual project and task management tools to video, teleconferencing, knowledge management and workforce collaboration tools. There are even services that enable your workers to find a quiet location by using spaces in restaurants or cafes that are yet to open to customers.
Flexibility is not just something workers want; it is something they expect. Research from our Ricoh Europe team found that 74 percent of workers believe flexible working will be a mainstay and written into employment contracts for the foreseeable future. In fact, almost a third (32 percent) are willing to take a pay cut of up to 10 percent to work for an employer that embraces flexible working.1

Re-Think The Physical Workplace

While flexibility is now a prerequisite, it’s not to say that office space is no longer needed. Far from it. Flexible working should complement, rather than replace the traditional workplace. But companies should consider how best to exploit their square metres to get the most out of their teams. This means analyzing how people work and use the space. Are there enough meeting rooms or break-out spaces to support increased collaboration? Can people get away from loud open plan spaces to concentrate when they need to? Are your people losing time waiting for meeting rooms or trying to make the technology work?
If employees are coming up against constant struggles when trying to find meeting rooms, getting video conferencing equipment to work or joining calls with international colleagues, they’re likely to become increasingly frustrated. Worst of all, they’re going to be unhappy and less productive.
Investing in ‘other’ space such as breakout areas where people can catch up over lunch or a coffee can encourage collaboration and natural idea sharing that may not have been possible within a traditional meeting room. Designing and providing dedicated collaboration or ‘huddle’ spaces that facilitate group working and creativity should be a growing focus for companies who want to future-proof their space.

Join HR And IT

Technology offers the opportunity for collaboration across geographies and job roles, but IT teams need to develop a seamless experience that spans all devices and platforms. Removing any connectivity or processing hurdles will make it much easier (and more enjoyable) for people to work together when they want and wherever they are—be it at home, in the office or on the move. Interoperability between IT suppliers, systems and manufacturers will be crucial here. For switched on businesses, it’s something they’ll increasingly push in the coming years.
For HR, there’s a job to be done in making sure employees feel confident using the various forms of technology available to them to enable a better work-life balance. This becomes more pressing when we consider 81 percent of workers expect their employer to provide tools and training to adapt to new roles as technology changes. This may require additional training and upskilling, in addition to fostering a company culture that enables its workforce to work in the most effective way, wherever that might be.

Play The Generation Game

The rise of collaboration between human and machines will ultimately free people from mundane tasks, enabling them to focus on more rewarding work, but also to extend their careers. This is particularly important as the average retirement age increases, and people work later in life. Collaboration between different generations within your workforce is important and it is vital that flexible working facilitates this. Employers must upskill their teams to help them adapt to modern ways of working in a respectful way.

Plan For Collaborative Success

The demand for flexibility and collaboration is clear. These are no longer viewed by employees as ‘work perks’ but are now fundamental aspects of their jobs. As the workforce becomes increasingly transient in a competitive marketplace, those employers who do not fully embrace the collaboration age will get left behind.
How and where we work, collaborate and share information has changed.
What’s next?
Redefine work and change. For better.
Put your customers and employees first with scalable collaboration solutions that enable business efficiency, performance and growth. Ricoh can help.
Take the next step by talking to a Ricoh professional about your needs and how we can help you overcome your unique collaboration challenges.