The Cloud Has Walls: Part VI
Technology and productivity in the new workplace
In today’s business environment distance is measured by time. It’s 45 minutes to O’Hare; 20 minutes to downtown. San Francisco to Chicago is 4.5 hours, not 1,850 miles. If we are able to respond to our client’s questions down in Brazil faster than our competition across the street, aren’t we then in fact closer to the client than our competition?
The definition of productivity is: “The measurement of efficiency from input to output.” Never before have we been able to measure the efficiency in communicating among team members like we can today. For example, if a team is working on a proposal, the standard method of communication is that someone will begin the proposal, send it to a colleague for revisions, and then that person will send it back to the original author. Within an average document like a proposal, the back and forth communication will happen an average of six times per document. However, if both people working on the proposal are working collaboratively in Google Docs, the document can be created within one meeting among both colleagues. Therefore, the productivity on creating one document can be increased by five times. The reduction of time would amount to approximately five hours to complete the document verses one hour to complete the document.
|KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TOOLS|
|ADAPTING TO CHANGE|
This is an example of how productivity can be measured and accounted for through the acquisition of technology. The reduction of hours above can be measured in direct personal expense (DPE) showing a direct savings of dollars (2x people @ $60 DPE x 5 hours = savings of $600 — a productivity contribution).
Spending time researching internal resources or external data can cost companies millions of dollars in unproductive time. Through the use of knowledge management tools, data can be extracted on several levels, including CRM, big data analytics, mobile devices, GPS tracking, scheduling, and so on. The key to enhancing productivity is to reduce time and provide accurate data to achieve output. It shouldn’t matter if we are at our desk or on an airplane; the rules have changed.
Having established that productivity does not need to occur at work anymore, the latest trend in office space is to design the new office as a collaborative environment taking advantage of technology. Some of the key design features for the new office environment include:
• Few dedicated workstations — people are on the move and need temporary places to work from and not necessarily their own dedicated workstations.
• Employees need secured access to data from anywhere, anytime.
• The new office of today offers collaborative spaces and flexible meeting areas to bring people together with their technology.
• Meeting areas are not necessarily conference rooms but collaborative gathering places with couches and mobile chairs.
• New office design requirements are reduced to 70 sq ft/person vs. the 150 sq ft/person previously used in planning for office space. Therefore, if an office is 200 people, the new space requirement would be 14,000 sq ft vs. the 30,000 sq ft required previously.
• Bandwidth within wireless technology in voice and data has increased and levels of security tighten within the office environment.
Due to the increase in productivity through technology, there are numerous financial benefits that the C-Level now recognizes. Within a total cost of ownership (TCO) model, exact cost savings in areas of facilities and productivity can be identified:
• Reduced rent from less space (30,000 sq ft to 14,000 sq ft)
• Direct comparison cost of workstations vs. lounges, collaborative furniture, etc.
• Reduced OPEX cost for power, office cooling, etc.
• Increased employee retention and recruiting benefits
• Measureable productivity savings through technology comparison models
• Reduction of in-house IT support systems through cloud subscriptions
While direct TCO and advantages in cost/productivity can be demonstrated, it is the ability to embrace change that moves us forward. Companies that do not embrace change are often left behind. I once did a design program for a small, progressive attorney’s office. The firm did not want chairs within any of the conference rooms, and requested that conference tables be raised to a level that was comfortable for standing. The basis of the design was simple … time is money. Attorneys make their money based upon billable hours not sitting around in meetings chewing the “fat” with other colleagues. Productivity (and thus revenue) is increased when changing internal meeting time to external billable time. A lesson that we could all use. Now if we could only get the C-Level to give up those big cushy offices … LOL.