The Modern Workplace: No Longer Aspirational, Now a Necessity

As our workplace is forcibly altered, here’s what you can expect once we come through this crisis

At Kiefer Consulting, one of our primary practice areas is helping people shepherd their organizations toward adopting a modern workplace. Our modern workplace consulting practice develops and deploys innovative solutions that improve how your organization communicates and shares information both internally and externally.

In the modern workplace, ubiquitous collaboration is enabled through Microsoft’s mobile-first, cloud-first approach. We believe that a truly mobile world means that any device can become your device. This means creating products that work across any platform. This also means turning virtually any machine into a connected device, allowing for better monitoring and communication.

Normally we’d help our clients do this is in a deliberate, well-planned fashion But at this moment you’re likely being asked to forge some semblance of remote-yet-functional workforce and there are probably many unknowns with which you may be struggling. As this unprecedented situation forces us to make tough choices and unanticipated transformations, here’s what we think you can expect.

Your People Will Surprise You – in a Good Way

As uncertain as things may be, you can count on the fact that your people will surprise you in many wonderful ways. This situation will bring out your team’s resilience, creativity and commitment. People will rise to the challenge.

Does that mean there will be no missteps? No hesitation? No mistakes? Of course not. In fact, initially such things may seem worryingly commonplace. But people will adapt and ingenuity will quickly usurp trepidation.

In fact, it may prove to be that the executives and the management are the more rigid and resistant to change. Such a revelation would not be without reason, though. As a leader you’ve no doubt spent years crafting organizational and business processes that leverage the known strengths of your team in a defined environment. With that environment suddenly upended, it can be understandably difficult to take the necessary steps back to not only see the full scope of the short-term changes that are occurring but how those changes may linger long into the future as well. Which leads us too…

Rolling Back Changes Will Be Tough

Once we’re finally on the other side of this crisis, it’s likely that there will be a lot of bells that can’t be un-rung. If you’ve been around long enough you not doubt recall various predictions of workplace transformations – most of which never came to pass. Remember the mobile workforce? The paperless office? While bits and pieces of such transformations did take root, by and large most organizations still operate the same as they always have – an in-house workforce 8am to 5pm, 5 days a week…with lots of paper.  

Right now, you’re probably more concerned with outcomes rather than hours. Also right now, your team is probably doing its best to achieve mission-critical objectives while telecommuting. Don’t be caught off guard if that outcomes-over-hours philosophy carries over into a post-coronavirus world.

Clickable banner to download a free eBook from Kiefer Consulting called the Beginner's Guide to Office 365

If your organization is fully invested in Office 365, for example, then you have the foundation in place for building a true modern workplace. At its most basic, the modern digital workplace creates an environment that promotes ease of use and improved access to information. Collectively, we presently find ourselves conducting unexpected but widespread user acceptance testing of this new paradigm. These test results will inform how our organizations work in the months and years ahead.

Prepare to Embrace a Hybrid Environment

Organizational change is tough. It’s tougher still when change is thrust upon us.  But what we’ll surely find is that our organizations – specifically the people of which they’re comprised – will clear the initial hurdles and settle into a new way of working.

Person working on a laptop near a window in a home.

Without question, some of the ad hoc implementations of remote work we’re witnessing will recede back into normalcy. But there will also be lasting changes that fundamentally disrupt the way organizations operate. Many of your employees will be able to prove they can successfully work from home. Many will effectively deliver high-quality work without needing to set foot in the office. Yet, once the option to return to the office is viable, you’ll no doubt have large swaths of your team itching to escape the confines of working remotely.

The result of this transformation we’re contending with will likely be a new, hybrid workplace. It will be a workplace in which both on-site and off-site work are equally viable and available to a large number of employees. It will be a workplace that challenges traditional management approaches but perhaps one that places value on outcomes rather than hours. And it will be a workplace that embraces established best practices as well as best practices we’re in the midst of establishing.

The modern workplace is no longer an aspiration. Quite suddenly, it’s a necessity. There will be lasting changes and impacts that result from this era. If you need help getting started with or adapting to the changes that come with the modern workplace, Kiefer is here to help you succeed.

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