How can technology declutter future workplaces?

Technology is teaching us how to keep our workplaces minimalistic and highly adaptable.

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A neat and clean office, in other words, a decluttered workplace helps to enhance employee productivity. After all, there are no flying papers, over-flowing paper-trays and cupboards suffocating with overloaded files.

A holistic change is taking place within workplaces, and technology is the single most prominent reason for the same.

And it’s not just papers and files. Also missing from the futuristic workplaces are office boys! Organisations are no longer employing staff to run errands for employees— such as to print or photocopy documents, serve tea, arrange the furniture and so and so forth. This is yet another form of decluttering that is going on in workplaces today.

Unmesh Pawar, head-people performance and culture, KPMG, shares “A decluttered desk enables better collaboration and seamless interactions, and also provides the momentum to take an organisation towards technology-enabled working. We can safely say that if an organisation is not allowing its people to print, then it is keeping pace with not just the technologies of today but the best possible approaches.”

It’s a win-win for the society as well, since futuristic organisations have become very conscious of the environment, and there is a stringent focus on reducing the use of paper.

Interestingly, organisations are becoming more transparent and cabinless too. These structural changes help reduce cluttering, for instance, less office equipment, dividers and passages. Another plus is that, open offices can accommodate more people.

Unmesh Pawar

“When organisations mature, their knowledge is exchanged through their online knowledge repositories. People can access specialists as well as knowledge libraries with the press of a button on their devices. The need for physical copies, whether it is research reports or other documents, is slowly fading”

While companies continue to disrupt the design of office spaces, technology is pushing employees to work away from designated workplaces. We have reached an age of flexible working. Nowadays, people are working from anywhere and everywhere. Physical locations don’t matter.

The concept of hot-desking has caught up with organisations today— employees use different desks daily, that is, on a rotational basis. This makes it imperative for people to ensure they do not leave behind clutter (papers, files, stationery, souvenirs) on the desks. Looks like possessing work desks is a thing of the past and so is the attitude of using them as mini- cupboards!

Not only has the future of work fuelled a transformation in the design of a workplace and flexibility in terms of where people work from, but also in the organisational structure.

Anil Misra, CHRO, Magicbricks.com, opines “One name that comes to my mind is Klaus, the founder of the World Economic Forum. He coined the term industrial revolution 4.0, and indeed, we have undergone major transformations in organisation structuring. Unlike the previous industrial eras, centralisation and decentralisation no longer exist. Today, everything is matrix driven and we have a very flat organisation structure, to the extent that an incumbent can have multiple bosses.”

The future workplace also demands a different set of attributes from its employees. Incidentally, organisations of the future need quick learners, and talent that is adaptable. The debate to choose between a generalist and a specialist is closed, because the future worker is a combination of both—a multi-tasker.

Anil Misra

“Tasks such as hiring, recording attendance and other employee information being done digitally, organisations have become more mobile, and operate out of small spaces. Ask any HR folk and he will give you another critical example, that of L&D”

When we talk about technological advancement and still depend on traditional means, it is meaningless. For instance, take the case of the employee-engagement survey. There was a time when paper, pen, and so on were used, but today we have moved to real-time AI-enabled feedback. There has been a major fall in terms of dependency and utilisation of resources, and that is clutter free.

“Similarly, with other tasks such as hiring, recording attendance and other employee information being done digitally, organisations have become more mobile, and operate out of small spaces. Ask any HR folk and he will give you another critical example, that of L&D,” states Misra.

It is amazing how technology-driven training programmes have helped to minimise the use of resources, such as manuals, white boards, stationery, dedicated rooms and more. Today, classroom trainings are outdated. Learning happens on gadgets and at the discretion of the learner.

Virtual learning has further reduced the need for a designated trainer and space. This further establishes the fact that technology-driven organisations are decluttering by optimising resources, both living and non-living.

“When organisations mature, their knowledge is exchanged through their online knowledge repositories. People can access specialists as well as knowledge libraries with the press of a button on their devices. The need for physical copies, whether it is research reports or other documents, is slowly fading,” reasons Pawar.

All organisations may not be at the same level in the transformation process, but each one of them has definitely started a makeover. It is only a matter of time before the ones lagging catch up.

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