Posted by Bojana Lazarevska on 30 Jan, 2020
Technology is becoming smarter and emerging workplace tools are helping us streamline our office operations.
An “intelligent” workplace enhances employee experiences by automating otherwise manual tasks for increased efficiency, and providing plenty of tools for collaboration and productivity.
This benefits employers and management teams too, as employees are happier, and the increased productivity and efficiency results in higher output, increased revenue, and cost reduction.
When it comes to workspaces, you may have heard the words “smarter” and “intelligent” being used interchangeably. While these two concepts both offer a wealth of benefits for businesses, there are some differences between them.
Smart vs. Intelligent
An intelligent workplace is one that keeps up with emerging technology and embraces new innovation to enable employees to communicate better and be more productive. A successful intelligent workplace is able to assess business needs and select new solutions, carefully, test, and implement them with minimal disruption to the office. The technology is scalable and grows alongside the company, replacing or enhancing legacy systems for a more streamlined approach to on-site working.
Employees are empowered to complete their jobs in the most efficient and productive way possible. It boosts employee engagement, too – 71 percent of employees expect their office to use the same level of technology as they use at home.
A smart workplace takes the technology that an intelligent workplace provides and utilises it to allow work to move beyond the four walls of an office. For example, employees have the flexibility to begin a project in the office and then continue to collaborate on the task even if they’re heading to pick up the kids from daycare. Employees have the opportunity to work from anywhere, on any device, and still be as productive as if they were in the physical office.
In a nutshell:
- An intelligent workplace looks at how we work and then aims to improve office culture and productivity by introducing new technology to create more fluidity in the working day.
- A smart workplace takes these techniques and approaches to enable employees to have more flexibility and work-life balance, while still remaining productive and strategic.
These two concepts often go hand-in-hand as there will always be some crossover in the technology, mindset, and solutions adopted.
Why should your business become intelligent?
Over the last decade, there’s been a shift toward a more balanced approach to working, which incorporates a more even work-life distribution.
NTT’s 2019 Digital Means Business Benchmarking Report showed the greatest impact that technology had on workplaces was most evident in people-related benefits, such as:
- Uncovering new ways of working more productively.
- Improved operational efficiency.
- Achieving more efficient business processes.
Intelligent workplaces make better use of the data and information that is available from digital systems and information tools; such as cloud applications; internal messaging and collaboration platforms; video conference systems; and wearables, among more.
Just as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have revolutionised customer service, these smart technologies are helping businesses become more intelligent too.
For example, large businesses which make thousands of hires each year use AI to pre-screen candidates before inviting the most suitable ones for an interview. This kind of technology is already being used by large companies like Unilever, LinkedIn, and Mercer.
Businesses that move toward a more intelligent way of working can see significant results. A recent survey showed that 75 percent of businesses that have adopted IoT (internet of things) tools had increased their profitability. So, an intelligent workplace benefits not only employees and customers, but business owners too.
There are four main areas of focus that the intelligent workplace addresses:
- Team collaboration;
- An agile working methodology;
- Incorporating technology in buildings, and;
- Data-driven automation.
Communication is key in the intelligent workplace. In more traditional workplaces, 86 percent of employees said that a lack of effective communication is the reason behind most work project failures.
Collaborative tools allow employees to communicate when they’re on the move, ensuring employees and businesses keep humming even if there’s an offsite meeting.
Collaborative tools help to increase employee productivity and communication, which leads to enhanced employee experience. Intelligent collaboration is a key enabler when it comes to business digital transformation, as well as to finding work-life balance.
NTT’s report showed that 54 percent of participants recognise the importance of providing an enhanced employee experience through digital initiatives. Furthermore, a Gallup study concluded that the more flexibility employees have – made possible by technological solutions, such as collaborative apps – the higher office productivity and firm performance is.
Collaborative tools and an increased focus in productivity offer opportunities for workplaces to become more agile in their way of working. Although, originally, this way of working was adopted by software development teams, it has expanded to include other parts of the office.
The principles of agile closely match with the underlying philosophy of intelligent workplaces. Working in an agile way means that businesses are empowered to test and deploy new, carefully selected technologies and tools as they need – as long as they help and don’t disrupt the office. Digital tools also enable cross-functional, project-based workforces and empower teams to work as one, not just as individuals.
Agile is a shift in mentality to how teams work, which moves away from the more traditional waterfall development. Agile allows teams to make rapid adjustments throughout a project, rather than approaching tasks in a linear, A–B fashion.
This means that agile businesses can improve and make iterations throughout a project, rather than get to the end before they realise something isn’t working. Most businesses have welcomed this push toward agile; 70 percent of organisations stated that one of the best benefits from their digital strategy is discovering new ways of working.
If you’re looking to become an intelligent business, using agile to digitally transform your workplace would provide you more opportunities to test technology and make changes along the way, if required.
Foster Smart Buildings
Buildings today take on dual responsibility for promoting environmental sustainability and for encouraging employee happiness.
Intelligent workplaces, agile methodology, and smart buildings work simultaneously as technology presents more opportunities for businesses to be mindful of their environmental impacts, and to introduce digital solutions which lessen employee stress and burden.
Smart buildings run on technology which is designed to increase comfort; think temperature adjustment, automated lighting, improved energy consumption, and more. Dimension Data’s 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report showed that as well as flexible working conditions, the top strategy (52.8 percent) for an evolving workforce was also an improved working environment.
It helps your bottom line, too. Automatic temperature adjustment, for example in rooms not being used, saves businesses money.
Take a Data-Driven Approach
Businesses now have the tools necessary to measure whether they’re meeting employee and customer expectations.
When it comes to employee satisfaction, technology allows businesses to more easily collect data on employee working conditions. Morale can be monitored through automated feedback surveys, which will then feed insights back to the HR department. Engaged employees, who feel like their business cares about their needs, are 21 percent more productive than those who feel neglected.
Analytics are built into intelligent workplaces, displaying information about employees’ needs and wants. This helps businesses make better informed decisions about whether or not technology is being used successfully in the office or where there is room for improvement, which is based on data rather than opinions.
Realistic Timeline to Achieve an Intelligent Workplace
The technology we have available in the modern workforce is already “intelligent”. It’s how businesses use the technology which creates an intelligent workplace.
Understanding how employees could benefit from the introduction of emerging technology and mapping out a journey and timelines for implementation will help forward-thinking businesses succeed and realise their full potential.
Need a hand getting started? The Future Platforms team are experts at analysing your businesses’ digital service needs and creating a framework that works with your unique requirements. Book a free consultation today.
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