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By Michael Murphy

Dinosaurs ruled the earth 65 million years ago; that is, until meteorites and volcanic eruptions brought environmental changes that ultimately wiped them out.

Just like dinosaurs, disruptive applications, devices, wearables and networks are wiping out aging technologies at a pace never seen before. In turn, Canadian offices are undergoing their own evolution, as the ways employees work continues to change based on new technology made available.

To take advantage of these benefits, the modern workforce must re-evaluate the way they approach the workplace and the technology they invest in. This digital transformation is retiring the traditional four walls of an office space and shifting to a meeting place built for collaboration. In order to take advantage of this evolution, companies and HR departments need to be aware of what changes are coming and what they need to do to be prepared.

The transformative power of mobility

More and more employees are demanding a work environment that reflects their working style and provides better work-life balance. This is particularly true with millennials, now the largest generation working within Canada’s workforce. A recent Citrix Canada survey found that 45 per cent of employees would trade perks, hours or pay at their current job to work outside of the traditional office setting. And, with three-quarters of employees stating that businesses should offer the ability to work remotely, the demand is growing for the cubicle to become extinct.

Mobility technology is one part of this digital transformation that is enabling flex and remote work, as it allows employees to work from anywhere, at any time, with any device, while still being able to connect with teammates and share work files. Mobility is more than simply exchanging email; it empowers employees with the ability to collaborate and access the information they need to perform their job effectively.
Offering this ability not only helps to expand the potential employee base to a global level, but it can be crucial for employee retention. It’s also extremely beneficial in helping to improve productivity. The survey found that 67 per cent of employees felt they were more productive because of mobility. Embracing the workplace transformation doesn’t simply mean a different working style – it allows a company to truly tap into their employees’ full potential and abilities.

Leveraging face time to the fullest

In order to take advantage of greater productivity in a new workspace, a company and its HR department must also remember that employees all have their own unique working styles and preferences. HR must consider these differing approaches to work when implementing change in the office.

Mobility allows companies to reduce office space, but what is done with the remaining space is equally important. First and foremost, face-to-face time doesn’t need to become completely extinct, but there’s no reason to return to traditional desks. Instead, do away with the traditional corner office and family photos, and create an open office space that people can use in a way that suits their work style best.

The space itself should strike a balance between both introvert and extrovert personalities. The office should be based around comfortable, open-concept spaces that encourage ideation, as well as private offices. This allows teams to come together when they need an in-person meeting or brainstorm, and it provides employees with a private area should they occasionally prefer to work within a traditional space. Together, these changes will allow the company to take advantage of technology while still allowing HR teams to put an emphasis on interpersonal connections and teamwork.

Taking advantage of the evolution

Even with a new office that allows for flexible, remote working, there are further considerations to take into account from a strategic perspective. Consider how a workforce will adapt to a paperless environment, host meetings or securely share files. The IT department is a key player and must ensure that the enterprise mobility management technology the company purchases enables these things, as well as having the capability to securely store and exchange sensitive company data. Fortunately, the IT department will likely be on board for this shift, as 85 per cent of IT decision-makers recently stated that enabling mobile needs to be a company priority.

Decisions surrounding technology should also always be paired with a robust strategy. This strategy should include both rollout and security plans which outline rules and regulations. Employees should be aware of what is, and is not, sensitive corporate information and what can be shared outside the office. These regulations should be made readily known and outlined before any change is implemented.

Strategy should also account for culture change. Having staff work remotely for long periods of time is a big change for any company. Expectations on communication, deadlines, work hours and remote meetings need to be clearly defined. Furthermore, before change begins, HR should aim to build awareness of the upcoming processes, highlight the benefits of mobility and educate staff on the tools and technology. This will help employees better adapt and embrace the changes.

With all of this in mind, in order to evolve beyond the traditional workspace and avoid remaining a dinosaur in the modern workforce, a company and its HR department need to consider three key recommendations:

  • Understand what your employees want or need to be productive
  • Ensure the right technology is in place

Prepare a robust imple-mentation strategy that takes into account work culture, security and rollout. Together, these steps will help bring any company out of the Stone Age and into the future.

Michael Murphy is the vice president and country manager for Citrix Canada.

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