Have you started a voluntary pivot toward ‘agile’ working? Maybe this was a change that came before the onset of the pandemic. If you invested in a technology package to allow employees to work from anywhere without being shackled to the traditional office plan, you’ll be patting yourself on the back. But how can technology continue to connect us? Far from being a simple bulk order of laptops, extended Microsoft licenses, and a VPN rollout, businesses across the country are now embracing the concept of technology being harnessed in a way that allows for innovative, fluid thinking, good work.
Few are the organisations that are reverting to old methods. But what are the next steps in the agile office of the future?
The theory behind an enterprise’s survival
Charles Darwin is known for gifting the world with a theory that it is survival of the most adaptable species – evolution through an involuntary changing environment – that ensures its continued existence in the future. The concept, if not the theoretical big bang can be actualised as a viable model of a pivoting workforce in a transitioning marketplace or universe.
The pandemic forced the world’s hand to choose fluid thinking or death by a fixed mindset.
Companies that dexterously diversified during the pandemic were the likes of:
- Entertainment giants, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Netflix to fulfil a cinematic deficit
- Nike pivoted to incorporate D2C (direct to consumer) retail in its business model and digital sales, through mobile applications and product personalisation with a brilliant marketing strategy
- Tesla established its supreme reign as the ‘it’ car through innovative, electric automotive technology
- Standouts in the agile workplace whose employees can work from wherever whenever are companies such as Amazon, Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Shopify, and Zoom (see ISG report below).
The ‘agile office’, although most were not prepared for it, has become normative in 2021, and it is hard to believe the working world will go back to a designated, concrete, cubicle office space in 2022, especially considering the facts. We love the convenience and technology is consuming its brick-and-mortar counterpart at a breakneck rate.
We think this theory is proven.
The technology starting kit for an agile workplace
Change doesn’t necessarily mean the wheel has to be reinvented. What does an enterprise need to add to its tech toolbox to remain viable in the digital age?
Mobile devices have been in play for several years, but they proved their real worth in 2020 when life came crashing to a halt. The ability to carry the office with us in an attaché case, messenger bag, or even a pocket, coupled with Zoom, the cloud, and MS Office 365, meant that in a worldwide emergency, we had the necessary access beyond our work desks.
But we need more than that to function properly.
The team’s survival in the great technological advance
One of the major concerns regarding the shift to an agile workspace and the ability to work anywhere is the concern for diminished security. According to a report from ISG (formerly Interior Services Group), ’90 Days Later,’ the biggest shift in economic enterprise since the Great Depression was not COVID-19, but the lack of digital preparedness and being technologically agile to navigate through a pandemic.
To stay moving forward and solvent, many unprepared companies and organisations cut digital corners and compromised their security for which we, the world, still do not know the potential scale of fallout.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that pre-pandemic approximately 7.9 percent of the world’s workforce, or about 260 million people, worked from home on a permanent basis…And in the period of less than a month, approximately 92 percent of the world’s population was ordered to stay at home. This includes hundreds of millions of office-based workers who suddenly needed security, technology, process, and support to work from home. (ISG, ch 3)
Looking beyond Zoom and into the future of technological teaming we need:
To be cyber-fit in an agile marketplace, the number one necessity must be a robust, fortified cybersecurity system across your entire network of operations. The fear of hackers accessing an organisation’s sensitive data by easily bypassing an inferior VPN is the reality of remote working and the home office space generally. But the immediacy of COVID-19 exacerbated the need for employees to restart work ASAP which meant security systems were set up in haste.
The standout: Like Tesla has been the standout for the automotive industry, Unisys differentiated itself from the competition with its superior ‘zero-trust multi-device stealth security’ technology, offering a safer alternative to the humble VPN.
- Team agility
How ‘agile’ is your team?
Reworked’s article, ‘What Agile Teams Bring to the Digital Workplace,’ David Roe writes, “Agile work is often characterized by digital tools and processes that foster and enhance communication and collaboration between employees, which is close to the idea that is driving digital workplace development.” It is only through a “strong digital infrastructure” this can be achieved.
- Digital tech and tools
Digital software help a team continue to work cohesively, like Microsoft Teams or Zoom which enable video-conferencing, screen-sharing, file-sharing, and workflows. But these must be complemented with other tools to reach resilience.
Keep a place for asynchronous communication, or messages that don’t demand a real-time response. Reworked endorses this communication style as ‘convenient’ because employees can choose when to give them appropriate consideration without interrupting workflow.
- Tandem, self-described as a ‘virtual office for remote teams,’ is designed to replicate the real office to ‘loop’ in with your team on shared projects, and integrates with 40+ applications.
- For agile project management software consider com’s top 5 roundup: Jira Software, Asana, targetprocess, Active Collab, and Zoho Projects.
Also, visit retrium.com for a blog article on 25 team collaboration tool suggestions for remote working.
Other tools to consider that will help you work smarter, whatever the office environment may become, are:
- CRM-connected CMS with accessible digital back-office functionality
- Interconnected, cloud-based, modular tech stacks with operation-wide access, such as OMS and WMS with multi-channel delivery for digital value and supply chains.
The results of agility
By adopting agile technology and method for teams and collaboration, some of the results we can expect to see are:
- Freeing up employee time and focus to redirect it to higher-value activities, and thereby reducing time spent on administrative responsibilities, meetings, emailing, and researching information
- Meeting project outputs and beating deadlines through continued communication and providing transparent overviews and more visibility into workflows, clarity of responsibilities, and completion targets
- Automating core business practices, thereby reducing process-related risk and time-leaching requirements
- Enabling line-of-business teams, including marketing, sales, customer support, and engineering teams to work more efficiently and effectively in support of business goals by providing enhanced access to needed information and an improved framework for carrying out day-to-day tasks.
In 2020 (or late 2019), the universe decreed death to the fixed mindset and a fixed workplace. It is now time for the idea of ‘shifting spaces’ and a ‘fluid wave’ to carry us through the ever-changing commercial landscape. Evolving agile technology is the vessel to take our teams there, wherever ‘there’ is or wherever ‘there’ becomes in the future.