Agile has become a bit of a buzzword in the last year and for good reason. Agility is key to success in digital transformation. I’ve focused a lot of time on agile leadership, but I think it’s also critical to discuss workplace agility. If your employees are not buying in to digital transformation, or if your digital transformation is stalling, your workplace agility could be the culprit.
Like all great improvement initiatives, digital transformation requires a good foundation to build upon. Changing and modernizing your IT systems and improving your business processes are a great way to overhaul your company’s productivity and efficiency. If you’re expecting a grand change while forcing your employees to use clunky legacy systems, I hate to break it to you, but it just won’t work. Your employee productivity and efficiency will stall. So, what can you do to improve workplace agility? Let’s dive in.
How Does an Agile Workplace Work?
I know what you’re thinking, agile is easy to define so an agile workplace is one that can react swiftly to change. And you’re right, that is a large part of an agile workplace, but it’s more than that too.
Workplace agility stems from this ability to work quickly, seamlessly and cohesively. As more and more employees begin to work from home or on the road, company productivity shouldn’t suffer. Employees should be able to work wherever, whenever and however they wish. Give employees the tools they need from collaboration suites to virtualized desktop environments. Create a flexible work environment that is enables and supported by technology and IT.
If I need to work from a hotel room across the world or my home office, I should be able to do that. This is the core of what workplace agility is all about.
Why Workplace Agility is Important to Employees
According to Convene, balance and offering choices in the workplace are more important to the millennial generation than salary. It’s true. And I’m sure the Gen Xers and baby boomers out there don’t mind the flexibility either. But it’s important for employers to realize that millennials and soon Gen Z will be looking for workplace agility more than the fun business perks that came out of the Silicon Valley. They’re no longer looking for a simple work-life balance but work-life integration that allows employees to work on their own time, at their own speed.
Some employees need space to process and solve problems. Some employees work best when collaboration is simple and fast. And some employees are looking for the flexibility that working from home allows. Workplace agility is the only way to pull off each of these employees’ needs seamlessly. From mobile work apps to video-conferencing technology, digital transformation is helping make workplace agility a possibility.
A Sampling of Technology Trends that Support Workplace Agility
Technology and new ways of thinking are changing the workplace we’ve always known. There are trends we’re seeing in the workplace now that include:
- “Work When You Need To” Models: Some companies are implementing “work when you need to” models by measuring job KPIs such as milestones and deliverables instead of hours logged on the job. Employees gather together to collaborate and then break apart to work towards personal goals. It’s flexible and highlights the employee’s desire to do autonomous work.
- Using SaaS and the Cloud to Run Remote Work: SaaS platforms and the cloud are being used all over the world to facilitate remote work safely and simply. Collaboration is still just as easy as it is in office and employers are saving on office costs. Plus, talent can be pulled from all over the world, not just in one location.
- VR and AR: Virtual and augmented reality are being adopted within the workplace instead of just at consumer level. Individuals can use VR and AR to meet online from anywhere, test products from a remote location and collaborate on projects easily from right where they are.
This is just a small sampling of the technology we expect to see facilitate an agile workplace in the year or so to come. Last month I wrote about the five trends that we are seeing change our modern workplace. These are all keys to workplace agility.
How Can Your Workplace Become Agile?
Adopting an agile workplace will take strategy and a vision. You should align your workplace with your digital transformation and business goals. From there, you can begin to use metrics to create a gauge to measure user engagement and to track daily active users on apps, the cloud and more. Organizational change will need to occur to facilitate an agile workplace, such as changes to your processes, department structures and culture.
After you lay the groundwork, your technology will be the focus. You’ll need to ensure your technology forms an architecture around your company, everything working seamlessly together from collaboration apps to your CRM. CIO recommends starting with a cloud-based office suite to aid in collaboration.
The future is here and employees are waiting for you to jump in. As the digital transformation takes hold, remember that your customer experience directly relates to your employee’s experience. Take advantage of the agile workplace to boost morale, productivity and efficiency.
The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.