If you asked my father how many people worked in his office, he liked to joke, "About half of them.”
The spin that my dad’s joke puts on the question—how many people are actually doing work in your office?—is something that enterprise managers worry about, perhaps now more than ever. Maybe the question isn’t so much: Is everybody in your office working? It’s more like: How are they working? And what can we do to help them work better?
Your enterprise has already invested a lot of money to provide employees with the means to get their jobs done. It’s bought productivity software that’s now being optimized for real-time employee collaboration. It’s invested in video technology that may have a hard ROI in terms of travel cost savings, but increasingly is simply meant to facilitate the process of work among people in diverse locations who want more human connection than voice or text alone can provide.
Your enterprise has also invested in the spaces where people work. More than likely, you’ve got a significant portion of your workforce deployed in open-plan offices, and very possibly, they’re less than thrilled to be there. Just putting row upon row of people in a big open room like Jack Lemmon in The Apartment is not the path to productivity. How you carve up the space, what you fill it with, and how you support it with collaboration technology will likely make a huge difference in whether your offices are as productive as your enterprise needs them to be.
Then there’s the investments you’re making in employees who show up at the office occasionally or not at all. Are you getting the most out of the collaboration technology they use and the policies and arrangements you’re making for them?
The urgency of these challenges for enterprises, along with the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of the challenges, is what’s behind a new event and media brand that Informa Tech is launching. This new brand, WorkSpace Connect, will address the three distinct enterprise audiences whose jobs encompass the need to provide employees with the means to collaborate effectively both in the office and from remote locations. These audiences have been described as the triumvirate in this space: IT, Real Estate/Facilities, and HR. The name of our new brand aims to speak to each of these elements: Work(HR)Space(Real Estate/Facilities) Connect (IT).
It’s not a secret within most enterprises that these three departments could stand to work more closely together, and that the costs of not doing so are rising. We believe the same technologies and ways of thinking that are transforming the workplace now offer the best chance yet for the elements of the triumvirate to overcome the obstacles and truly come together to support the multifaceted collaboration needs of the employee.
So that’s “Why WorkSpace Connect.” Why us? Our team’s heritage is as the largest independent producer of events and media for the “IT” segment of the triumvirate. For almost 30 years, our Enterprise Connect event and No Jitter media site, and its forebears, have provided practical, real-world, vendor-neutral coverage of the technology of enterprise collaboration—from the days of the analog PBX to the current world of team collaboration software and ever-easier-to-use video conferencing.
It’s a world to which many providers of office environments are linking themselves. Technology-focused providers like Microsoft and Logitech are partnering with the likes of Steelcase and Herman Miller to come up with approaches that harmonize the needs around physical spaces with the technology that connects users to colleagues, partners, and customers. These worlds are starting to come together, and the enterprise teams that support them have their best opportunity yet to take a more holistic approach to the way employees get their work done.
We’ve got some exciting announcements coming up soon from our new WorkSpace Connect brand. In the meantime, we’ll be coming to you regularly through this newsletter as we bring you perspectives from technologists, experts in physical spaces, and the human factors that shape your workforce and their experience of work. We’d love to get your ideas and perspectives about what you’re seeing and what kind of information would be most useful to you. Please drop me a line at [email protected], and pass this newsletter along to anyone you think might find it useful. I look forward to our conversations.