The Office isn’t Dead; Just Evolving

Is the office as we know it heading towards a slow extinction, or is it an opportunity for a new “frontier” of advancements in technology and social interaction?

The answer is likely a mixture of both outlooks.

Today’s technology is rapidly shifting people’s thinking on what constitutes a “workplace” as powerful tools built around voice, video and the ubiquity of broadband penetration enable innovations. This is driving collaboration from anywhere, reducing time and capital spent on travel, and enabling (for better or worse) people remaining “on” and accessible for increasing amounts of time.

Generations X and Y certainly have evolving expectations of what work, the office, and collaboration mean.

“This workforce doesn’t know a world without the internet, expects answers instantly, seeks constant engagement, and is comfortable with “connected” technologies like no other generation,” said Garry Veale in a recent piece for TechRadar. Veale is the president of Avaya in Europe, and had some interesting ideas about what is shaping business today and in the future.

The legacy view of networks and technology in the modern workplace will certainly change as these expectations are brought along with people as they assume positions of leadership.

“To accommodate this hyper-connected generation, networks need to be fully prepared. Typical working environments weren’t built to withstand the consumerization of IT, BYOD, and BYOA, and enterprise technology often isn’t capable of delivering the experience we’re used to getting at home.”

Related article: CYOD: Balancing Uniform and Freeform?

A 2013 study by Deloitte Analytics found that only 62% of employees report being satisfied with their work in the absence of flexible IT policies, as opposed to 83% with more options.

With the increase in the variety of intelligent communication and collaborative channels available to employees, the workplace still has the opportunity be a space viewed as a “destination.”

“We’re progressively moving towards much more functional and productive ways of working,” said Veale. “Concepts like the ‘Internet of Things’ or ‘machine-to-machine communications’, which are trending now, will soon become major influencing factors in the future of business.”

As these innovations change work habits and how we view technology, it becomes easier to extend those thought processes to physical office spaces.

“Technology and networks that are self-aware will rise up the agenda as the cost of the sensor technology which enables this reaches an all-time low,” said Veale. “Gartner predicts that we’ll soon reach the point where it’s cheaper to have a communications-enabled system than not. This will lead to a fundamental change in the way companies work – from new ways of developing technology, to better facilities management through an increase in pay-as-you-go billing models for office utilities.”

Getting back to the focus on the worker, imagine a “smart” workplace: The office building recognizes who is coming in, what devices they are carrying, and their level of need for information and physical access. This awareness can translate to personal preference for lighting, temperature and the type of room utilized. Meetings can be automatically set up based the current project and who is onsite with applicable knowledge.

This may sound like a brainstorm from Popular Mechanics magazine, but it’s on the way.

While the scattered nature of today’s workforce can lead to detachment and a lack of meaningful interaction between employees, intelligent systems can go beyond creature comforts in the office and lead to genuine collaboration.

Video is a cornerstone of that opportunity, and videoconferencing has moved beyond US$300,000 immersive rooms to platforms such as WebRTC and other solutions from various vendors enabling face-to-face communication from just about anywhere, and certainly at lower cost.

Veale believes video applications are becoming a key agenda item as businesses realize the cost and productivity benefits.

“Video is benefiting from more advanced hardware, employee hunger for collaboration, more sophisticated networks, and more interoperability,” he said. “Solutions are now accessible and affordable and the advantages of lower travel costs and higher productivity are grabbing the attention of more and more customers.”

The mixture of sharing a physical space, combined with meaningful access to people in various locations across the globe, add up greater collaboration and more productive environments.

That’s a “smart” way to run an office, and experience worth “coming in” for.

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Four Reasons to Focus on Mobility (and Three Ways to Get Started)

Mobility is a no-brainer in today’s smart, digital world … or is it? As recently as 2013, only 22% of leaders had made a strong business case for bring your own device (BYOD). We’ve made some inroads since (as of last year, 59% allowed employees to use personal devices for work), but still have a ways to go.

Mobility is an absolute must. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are four proven benefits:

  1. You’ll make a lot more money
    Research from the IES and The UK Institute for Work Studies found that increasing engagement investments by just 10% can increase profits by up to $2,400 per employee, per year. Consider a large enterprise with 500 employees—investments in mobility could lead to as much as $1.2 million in additional revenue for the company per year.
  2. You’ll drive employee wellness/satisfaction
    One survey shows that 97% of companies agree that employee well-being positively influences employee engagement. And wouldn’t you know, mobility helps ease areas of wellness with the greatest impact on engagement: work/personal stress, physical health, personal relationships and work productivity. Allow more flexibility with mobile team collaboration and you’ll see major improvements.
  3. You’ll get better results, period
    Mobility improves engagement, and engaged teams drive outstanding results. In fact, research shows that companies with better engaged teams outperform others by over 200%. Mobility also now seems to be at the heart of corporate culture (this Forbes article excellently argues why), and 95% of executives believe culture is important in driving business outcomes.
  4. You’ll narrow your talent gap
    You need the right people with the right skills to differentiate and compete. An average 34% of global organizations have difficulty filling jobs due to a lack of available talent, with this number significantly higher in regions like Asia-Pacific (45%), India (67%) and Brazil (42%). The right employees can be seamlessly on-boarded—regardless of location—with the ability to engage anytime, anywhere via advanced mobility.

Get Started

Ready to improve mobile team collaboration? Consider these ways to take charge:

  • Get with the softphone revolution. Softphones are now widely deployed in the enterprise and advanced versions go well beyond the phone to provide calendar integration, instant messaging, contacts and call logs, as well as one touch access to meetings and collaboration capabilities.
  • Embed real-time communications (i.e., voice, video, chat) directly into the applications employees use each day to work. Eliminate the need for them to hop in and out of multiple disparate apps.
  • Flexibly integrate applications using an open communications platform. These apps can be ready-made from a trusted provider or existing within the Avaya Snapp Store. Even better, challenge employees to build custom apps that can further improve team collaboration.
  • Invest in a desk phone solution that fuses mobile simplicity with advanced enterprise software tools. Personalize user experience and eliminate the need for employees to use multiple mobile devices to engage.

Avaya can help you successfully take these next steps, as well as create an effective mobile strategy for your business. Read the IDC Technology Spotlight and get started today.

Avaya Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Avaya is honored to be recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure worldwide. Avaya has been the only vendor having the distinction of being named a Leader for 16 consecutive years. Each year the research organization creates a market view of key players for business users, reflecting business goals, needs, and priorities.

Contact centers have gone beyond phone calls with customers now expecting to communicate on their terms via text, IM, email, chat or video. For the past 16 years Avaya has created seamless and highly personalized experiences, building brand loyalty for companies all around the world.

According to Deloitte, 85% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator. Todays companies must remain relevant by creating a single interface to connect customers with the correct resource each time, supporting their preferences. Supervisors and managers need real-time performance information to adapt immediately to situations to ensure optimized customer experience.

Avaya has focused its efforts on creating next-generation contact center solutions, creating communication strategies enabling a continuous transition between channels during customer interactions.

Please visit Gartner’s page to read the full report and see how Avaya’s Contact Center infrastructure continues to deliver best-of-breed Contact Center applications. We look forward to continuing innovation and leading business communications for the digital age.


Seeing into the Office of the Future

Dubai is heavily focused on delivering on its Smart City goals, with the goal of being among the smartest—and happiest—cities in the world. The drive toward smart cities is part of a wider shift, with countries around the globe seeing a migration from rural areas to urban. With more than half the world’s population now living in cities, organizations in the Middle East are facing increasingly difficult decisions about how they allocate resources and manage their workforce.

For a city like Dubai, that can be challenging. Finding the right real-estate location for office space, managing energy usage and providing physical workspaces for employees working different shifts in a modern, 24X7 city creates its fair share of headaches. Enterprises also have to cope with an increasing Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture, with smartphone and device penetration especially high in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries.

We have reached an inflection point where the number of devices connected and generating data is accelerating at an exponential level. Our work environments are beginning to blur, as workspaces are no longer physical but virtual. Organizations need to deliver a consistent work experience whether in an office or on the road, or at home. The key driver is to intuitively connect not only communications devices, but interact with the ambient technologies that surround us, like lighting, BMS and signage.

At Avaya, we believe that the Smart Enterprise is one of the key building blocks for smart cities—and one of the foundations of true Smart Enterprise development will be what we term the Office of the Future. This is about more than just technology; the Office of the Future involves automating work processes within the enterprise to deliver a more intuitive employee experience. As with any “smart” solution, the Office of the Future is only smart if it resolves the challenges it aims to address.

So what do we mean by Office of the Future? Imagine walking into a new office you’ve never visited before and your work station is ready before you sit down, configured to your preferences, right down to the air conditioning settings and digital signage displayed with your identity. When a client arrives to meet you at the office, they can be sent to a meeting room automatically, and you can talk to them on their mobile as you walk to greet them.

With Avaya solutions, the act of an employee booking a workspace would kick start a workflow that immediately sets up that space with all communication devices enabled and connected securely, while interacting with the building management system to ensure the environment was set to the employee’s requirements, everything from lighting to temperature to digital signage. The employee could be identified by their phone or a card ID. When they leave, the workspace can be reset for the next employee that reserves it.

Such Smart workspaces will help enterprises manage their resources more effectively, better leverage their real estate investments, and improve employee well-being and productivity. Here in Dubai, the Office of the Future starts now.