Even Non-Techies Can Love Connected Workspaces—With Your Help


As more companies learn every day, creating a "smart" connected workplace can boost employee productivity, collaboration and satisfaction, whether people are on-site or working remotely. But even the smartest technology succeeds only if people use it, and that's where some workplaces fall short.

Demand for connected workplaces is booming. Roughly three quarters of Millennials, 52 percent of GenXers, and even 35 percent of Baby Boomers expect to work in a smart office within the next five years, according to a 2016 Dell and Intel Future Workforce Study.

New products, including Cisco's Connected Workplace suite, support exciting new possibilities for the high-tech office. For starters, the suite's Borderless Network offers unified access architecture for seamless moves between wired and wireless environments.

To ensure that real-world employees can appreciate the systems you provide, the first thing to do is to put yourself in their shoes and envision a compelling use case for each new technology you're considering.

Why connected workspaces?

Technology, human resources, and real estate have traditionally been managed in silos, each function isolated from the others. Today, these teams are increasingly collaborating to create:

  • An enhanced workplace experience, with elements like workspace option, smart lighting and environmental controls enabling employees to create their preferred work environments;

  • More opportunities to collaborate, with digital whiteboarding tools, state-of-the-art training and engagement rooms, content-sharing apps, HD videophones, and other collaboration tools bring people together locally and remotely.

  • Time-saving systems that boost efficiency, such as connected printers, smart elevators and mobile apps for workplace services.

How to deploy a system everyone can get behind (and actually use)

Think about the end-user from the beginning to determine whether a particular technology will encounter resistance or eager adoption. How do your organization's employees interact with current technology offerings? Which new features might they most quickly embrace?

Following are a few suggested ways to ensure successful adoption from the get-go.

  1. Plan for adoption. For every new tech tool or platform you're exploring, how will each employee group use it in their workdays? Consider shadowing employees around the office, or holding town hall meetings to discuss users concerns and preferences.

  2. Consider generational differences. Millennials tend to adopt new technologies more quickly and easily than their more senior colleagues—but don't rule out Boomers and GenXers. The vast majority of non-Millennial workers use the Internet and cell phones. One survey that found that Baby Boomers are actually more likely to use technology at dinner than their Millennial counterparts.

  3. Find the helpers. Get interested stakeholders involved early so they can help educate their teams, and build excitement from within—helping pave the way for a smoother transition. They can also help you identify needs and gaps while you plan, since they're closer to employees their day-to-day use cases.

  4. Coordinate training with genuine understanding. Once you know a new technology strategy will fit in with your corporate culture and workflow, make sure your training plan aligns, too. For example, will small-group training sessions be best or a conference style training?

  5. Stay primed for ongoing learning—theirs and yours. Technology is ever-changing, and new collaboration systems and environmental controls are constantly emerging. Make sure your colleagues know you are ready to help and easy to reach.

Chances are, if you're not already preparing for a more connected workplace, it's on your wish list—and the C-suite's, too. By planning ahead with the user experience in mind, you can tap into one of the greatest workplace advances: connectivity.


February 23, 2017