Get ready for the workplace of the future

Erik Nicolai, CEO and co-founder, Workspace 365, explains how the workplace of the future will transform organisations. Channel companies need to be ready to guide their customers through their options.

Given that it doesn’t seem like five minutes since we rang in 2023, it feels a little odd to say that we should have one eye on 2027. But a recent Gartner report came with a stark warning: if companies want to be successful four years from now, the best time to start planning for that success is today.

The world of work changed forever in 2020 as swathes of the planet went into lockdown. Despite the empty streets, the wheels of industry still needed to keep on turning. Remote and hybrid working processes, cloud adoption and digital workspaces emerged at the forefront of the employee experience as the world started to return to something approaching normality.

For some businesses, the adoption of the adaptive digital workplace simply allowed for work to continue but in a slightly different way. Those with the vision to be truly transformative, however, recognised that a much more complex and decentralised adaptive digital workplace was the key to the future and the challenges of “the Great Resignation”, economic uncertainty and competition in the global employment market.

Such a solution is not an easy fix, but it will be essential for future success. The hybrid model looks set to become more and more important to businesses and their employees. Done right, hybrid working can enable businesses to flourish.

The digital workplace of 2027

Five types of digital workspaces look set to emerge. These are: new work hubs, which will help users do general individual and collaborative tasks; business role hubs, which will help users do tasks specific to their roles; employee engagement hubs, which promote casual social interactions and improve engagement with company news; employee services hubs, which allow users to access HR policies, benefits information and other documents; and technology services hubs, which allow users to request IT services and support.

The new work hub will be at the centre of every employee’s digital workspace experience. It will contain workstream collaboration tools, visual collaboration applications, content services, meeting solutions and collaborative work management tools that will be vital for hybrid working.

Just as important will be the business role hub, which will be different for every single person in the organisation. It contains the software and data that is essential for them to do their very specific roles and so strips out all of the unnecessary data and processes that saps productivity. At Workspace 365, we estimate that this gives employees back an hour of every single workday.

The workspace of 2027 is not the cluttered mess of today, with files and apps being held on various networks of shared drives with all the associated costs of licencing and storage. It does not involve the employee wading through information and data that they don’t need to see in order for them to do their jobs.

Instead, everything they need to allow them to do their job efficiently is presented to them in one easy-to-navigate interface that is completely unique to each employee and them alone. If they don’t need to touch an app in the course of their day, that app is nowhere to be seen when they switch on their computer.

Similarly, if they don’t need to access a part of the network as part of their job, they won’t even have the ability to look at it on their computer.

Prioritising digital

This adaptive digital workplace of the future is already in place at some forward-thinking organisations which have taken digital as their priority. Of course, transforming a business is no easy task. A migration plan is needed, with gaps identified and analysed, strategies formed, governance implemented and talent hired or upskilled.

It is only when everything is in place that the implementation of the digital workspace can begin, with suitable champions in place to gather feedback and community participants sharing their knowledge online.

The key to success

It is not unreasonable to feel daunted and even worried about digital transformation and readiness for the future. But you can help organisations be ready for what is on the horizon so they can succeed.

The adaptive digital workplace that is the key to this success is not something that has been taken from the pages of a science fiction novel. They, and this future way of working, already exist and they are already helping businesses. The power to take your organisation into the future is alive and breathing and in your hands.

This opinion piece appeared in our May 2023 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.