Enable your workforce with complete internal connectivity by supporting them with integrated technology and space.
Connectivity and successful business go hand-in-hand. The rise of the digital workplace is less the ground-breaking headline of 20 years ago, and more of a given as companies increasingly adopt digitised systems for their information and work practises. But connectivity in the workplace is much more than integrated technology: the most successful work environments foster social and emotional connectivity as well.
Most people prefer face-to-face communication despite digital being the most common form. It’s a preference that’s growing stronger, particularly among the workforce’s newest members – Generation Z is already shaping tomorrow’s workplace in a way that prioritises communication between people, in person. Your workspace should promote all aspects of connectivity. From tech updates to traditions, here are three ways to strengthen your company’s internal networks.
It may seem obvious, but updating your in-house technology will ensure your employees always have the most effective tools of their trade. It’s important to offer a variety of platforms in order to support the different working styles within your workforce, all of whom will prefer varying modes of communication.
A study conducted by the Association of Intelligent Information Management shows that half of all workers use three or more information systems at work. The way we work is becoming more dynamic and the way we use technology at work is following suit. In a world where we can contact anyone at any time anywhere, it’s crucial that employees have the means for the same kind of connectivity at work.
Work is no longer confined to the traditional office space – the workforce is increasingly mobile and heightened resources for communication will only benefit productivity. Wifi, smartphones, tablets and company computers are necessary tools for creativity and communication. With the popular Bring Your Own Device policy in most workplaces, supplementing the technology employees already have access to will ensure everyone can operate on the same platforms.
Part of the benefit of offering multiple digital platforms is simply how difficult it is to streamline an internal offering down to one. In his article, “The Digital Workplace Is All About Connectivity,” Mika Javanainen emphasises the importance of technological choice in the office, explaining that “when a company attempts to adopt a brand new system and migrate all its workers to one plot of common ground, the odds of 100-percent user adoption are not exactly in the company’s favor.”
That’s not to say a simplified approach to in-house tech is impossible. Some platforms offer incredibly similar (if not identical) features, and overlapping elements can be phased out to make communication patterns and workflow more efficient. “Part of how we are using technology is starting to combine different pieces of kit together,” says our Head of People and Workplaces, Lorna Killick. “So, instead of having a tablet, laptop, PC and a phone, we’re starting to have one laptop, one phone and that’s it – all the functionality we need is in those two things.”
We may not spend as much time in the office or use it as uniformly as we once did, but the workplace isn’t going away: it’s changing. Modern offices across sectors have evolved from the seemingly dated cubicle landscape, and have opened up in order to foster the kind of fluid communication people have come to expect on a physical level. Open plan workspace that offers different areas suited to various types of collaboration will give people the space they need to connect in.
Agile areas provide open, flexible space for people to work together or independently. These areas give employees the opportunity to work away from their desk and in close proximity to colleagues they may not otherwise connect with. Agile workspace can benefit everyone in different ways, but is particularly helpful for emotionally-oriented and idea-oriented workers. Emotionally-oriented workers use support and communication to connect people and projects together, while those who are idea-oriented draw on imagination and possibilities to make decisions and energise their teams.
Collaboration spaces give teams the right environment to work together. From formal meeting rooms to open plan brainstorming areas, these spaces help team members of all working styles come together to reach collective goals. Because meeting rooms provide a comparatively private setting for group work, these spaces are crucial for data-oriented workers, whose approach to work is analytical and logical, and detail-oriented workers, who thrive with organisation and use structure to accomplish their objectives. More open and informal brainstorming areas give emotion and idea-oriented workers the space they need to shine.
Breakout space is designed for socialising rather than working, but is no less important in forging strong internal connections. The phrase ‘work hard, play hard’ has more merit than you might think -teams that socialise and relax together have higher levels of idea sharing and cross-pollination.
It’s important to include spaces that support all kinds of working styles as everyone operates in different ways. Agile, collaboration and breakout spaces are three of the most productive environments for internal communication, but it will be important to include quiet areas for more concentrated tasks as well.
Inclusive workplace traditions reinforce the emotional connection employees have with the company they work for. Opportunities for a workplace to come together for something other than work aren’t exactly naturally occurring. Planning group activities for the entire team may sound like a frivolous use of company time, but is actually incredibly beneficial and can offer a massive return in employee wellbeing, productivity and overall morale.
Office design should foster your company culture, but that culture can be strengthened outside of the workplace. “The traditions that we have are something that keep the connection going. When new people join, they hear about those and then get to experience them and buy into our company culture,” says Killick.
Community-building events range from yoga sessions to after work theatre excursions. In the design and build sector, it’s not uncommon for companies to take annual vacations together in the name of continuing positive internal culture.
Don’t worry if a group trip to Seville doesn’t exactly sound plausible – more practical office gatherings are just as impactful. “Having our Christmas lunch in the office started six or seven years ago when there were maybe 30 people,” Killick recalls. “It’s grown up to be a full-on hot lunch for all 170 of us. It’s just our tradition and I don’t think we’ll ever stop doing that – we’ll find a way no matter how many tables we have to shove into the office.”
While current technology will always be a crucial factor of successful communication, social and emotional connectivity are what drive a lasting company culture. “The ideal is that the emotional connects with the technological in that every person’s working style can be accommodated,” explains Killick. “Because that will make their working life more pleasant.”