Coffee, Connection & Cloud: The 3Cs of the Smarter Workplace

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When I think back on the days I started working, I remember my boss saying: “Go to events or get a coffee. These are the best ways to do some networking and get your business done with or without this wonderful office space.” These words came alongside some smile in his face, winking…

Obviously, my boss was right. The building was in the outskirts of Munich. The location and surroundings were not much glorious. The furniture was not stylish. And, the whole atmosphere inside was definitely not inspiring. Somehow, the good coffee kept us going, and alive. And, whenever I was outside the office, I realized that the office as an institution is limiting the business by all means.

Attendance meant productivity.
Those days, we did not have any other options. Employees had to use a time clock. It was for the bosses to record attendance time of his/her team members. However, nobody was asking for those guys that went for a cigarette every 30 minutes, or played table soccer, or watched the football for 1,5 hours during the World Cup. Nobody was disturbed by the ladies chatting about their latest shopping experience in the coffee kitchen. Daring was sharing was caring – but only when you enjoyed the coffee in the office.

Office space meant connectivity.
Those days, we were missing the connection to our network, our colleagues and our customers if we did not have access to the office and/or the technology and databases inside. The company network and data was secured against external access – even for employees. VPN’s were not existing. No other option but coming to the office, or join events and meetings in order to be productive from. Well, that was the managers point of view. What drove me out of the office? Connecting and networking with people. Getting fresh point of views of clients and partners. The side-effect: Often, you got better coffee at a client meeting or at events. Still, the only think I missed was the Cloud.

Networks meant working & storing.
Those days, we did not have WiFi at home, in bars and in coffee shops. A new opportunity that gives people the option to work whenever, whereever and with whoever they want, from whichever place and whatever topic. Employees can decide and work at the perfect time when they feel productive. Still, it seems to be such a challenge for management teams to implement that culture of trust in employees’ self-regulation and self-responsibility capabilities. The World Wide Web is networking. The brain is the desktop. The Cloud is the starting point of a smarter workplace – all tools available to be productive.

Just like the 5 questions of journalism, we now have the 5 W’s which define quality mobile business in the future: Whenever, Wherever, Whoever, Whichever, Whatever. The smarter workforce will make use of the new options: Change coffee location for meetings. Change co-working space for projects. Change clouds for partners.

Starbucks, San Fancisco Coffee, or any lovely day bar out there where people come together and get free WiFi have understood that they are part of the new workforce. Many cities like Albuquerque, Denver or Tel Aviv offer free WiFi in town. They cut down commuting. They cut down air pollution. They improve work-life balance.

The outlook for the smarter workforce? Different touchpoints. Different people. Different focus. Different clothes. Different habits. Some listening to music while working. Some busy on their laptops and tablets. Some engaged in Facebook. Some just dreaming and watching people passing by. All giving themselves new input, ideas and inspiration.

Just imagine what a sign like “Free Coffee, next door!” or “Free WiFi, next exit!” or “Free desktop space @ Our Place” could do for your business. The 3Cs of the smarter workforce are changing the world we live in. Self-organzation and self-resonsibility are the only two things managers need to train their employees. And that can be taught in a connected webinar at a coffee place you like most…

Happy Working!

Study: Brains can work from home

In our Lancalot Manifesto we stated the first paragraph as “The brain is the new desktop”. What we sincerely believe is that the next generation of knowledge workers won’t require a desk. Why? We think that creativity, business development, innovation and business decision will speed up when people do things and topics they like, they believe in and where they are passionate about but from places where they feel comfortable to work.

And there are more benefits for both parties in it.

When people don’t have to commute to work, they are less stressed out from daily travels, can work remotely in a quiet in a relaxed space, and don’t have the challenge to find someone to take care of the kids. Companies can scale down from expensive office space to much smaller places and create flexible working space atmosphere. Just think of the reduction of costs in furniture, technology and running expenses like electricity, and imagine that time is money when people don’t commute to work.

This new trend is reflected by a study Citrix Systems published this week which surveyed 1.900 “senior IT decision-makers” from 19 countries. The study was focussing on future trends in workspaces as well as telecommuting.

Let’s have a look at the findings…

- In 2020 almost 29% of people will work remotely: the majority from home, project sites, and customer/partner premises.
- Coffee shops, airports, and hotels will become an increasingly important working space while people travel.
- With the rise of telecommuting, the responds believe that by 2020 we will have ten office workers for 7 desks.
- In telecommuting-friendly countries like the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, or the Netherlands, it will have 10 workers for six desks. Countries that have a high value on face-time, like Germany, South Korea, and Japan will face a higher ratio. However, the trend will be changing here as well.
- By mid 2014 the percentage of companies that adopt the mobile work style will jump to 83% compared to 24% today.
- 96% of organizations that implement mobile work styles redesig their workplaces to be more collaborative and flexible.
- BYOD on the rise: 83% of companies plan to allow employees to bring their own digital devices to and from work instead of relying on desktops, and the companies cover all costs.

Obviously, there are differences from generation to generation. Growing up with wireless access and laptops, the GenY don’t see a challenge working from everywhere. The challenge would be to get them coming to the office. And for the older generation and companies? The Fukushima disaster showed companies “that they could empower their employees to work from home. They began to learn that work can be done anywhere”. Kim DeCarlis, VP Corporate Marketing, Citrix.

Telecommuting is the future, whether your company likes it or not. And in my eyes, Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, is right in her attitude that the work-life balance will play an important role in the future: “The key to sustaining loyalty in employees is making sure they get to do the things that are most important to them outside of work.” The less people have to commute to offices, the better we can organize our personal lives around our jobs. And the cloud gives us all opportunities to working remotely – from a coffee shop or from home.

The flexible workplace will change our business world

How does work look like in the future? Well, obviously we have written our Lancalot Manifesto which might make you guess how we see the future. We know, the manifesto and our profiles have created curiousity about what the Lancalot business could be about. You can be sure, we will let you know as soon as we are able to…

So, what is work in the future? Is it a task? Or two tasks? Multiple projects? And how is a workplace going to constitute? Will we need a desk in a fixed place? Will flexible desks replace your swivel chair? Will coffee-shops, airport lounges and day-bars become our main workplace touchpoints? What is the role of smarter working and telecommuting? How will co-working change our attitude towards our employer? Many question this blog will circle around…

Let’s start of asking what makes up a flexible workspace…

Working in the clouds today means that we do not need a physical environment like a room with a desk, cupboards or drawers anymore. Maybe accountants or controller might have one. But even then, I can think of other options. The rest of the company’s value chain will probably not necessarily need those brain and creativity limitations any longer. Those who resist might be the ones that love to position their glorious (and dusty) awards around them in a way that everybody can see them: those dusty sales awards, media trophies or customer service medals…

Mobile gadgets offer new freedom and fresh opportunities. Behavioral trends connected to new cloud development and technology bridge the transition for new work habits. And sustainable people rethinking what commuting to work means, have embraced co-working locations to save their employees time, create a new work-life balance. Thus, clever companies changed the industry in which people are doing their jobs. They offer more flexibility, more creativity and more empathy – for a “happy working” trend.

Today, the workplace is virtualized. Companies looking ahead of the future will acknowledge that the workplace gets redefined by networking, collaboration, conversations and nudging. With new mobile technology people expect their new personal gadgets to play an increasingly important part in their professional business. The mobile “desktop worker” has more opportunities than delivering their tasks from an office. They can work from wherever they want, at the time they chose, and produce as much as they can. As long as the location offers 3G or WiFi… True.

This development is also a chance and challenge for organizations and companies. Especially, for those people who are supporting their business roles, especially in IT.

A recent study by IBM’s Center For Applied Insights among 675 CIOs and IT managers of large corporates in Australia, China, India, Japan, UK, and the US now refers to this new flexible workplace movement. It offers insights into the success of those flexible workers and in which way it sets them apart. The workplace study states that the most successful companies implementing the flexible workplace are seeing 20+ percent improvement in productivity and cost savings.

The results support our above mentioned assumptions: 74% of CIOs and IT managers have given the flexible workspace a bigger priority than many other budget topics in the last twelve months. Most respondents go even further and expects to invest a significant amount in related attributes of the flexible workspace over the next two years. Why? Apart from the above facts, they see increased revenues and enhanced security challenges closely connected to it.

The study also advices that there are some important challenges that companies have to have an eye on when transforming to a flexible workplace business. It is not surprising that security is top of concerns for the IT heads.

Still, CIOs and IT managers see that improving collaboration is a new key asset. Strenghtening two-way communication and sharing between employees, partners, resellers and customers speeds up processes, saves time and leads to new business advantages.

The following infographic illustrates the main features in the transformation process to a flexible workplace business.

Is your company ready to become a flexible workplace business?

PS: How the flexible workplace affects the HR world, Lancalot will tell you soon…