Workspace (and Team) Redefined: AI and Remote Futures
Without doubt, the work world has evolved with the influence and growth of digital and mobile technologies. They have changed our ways of being, doing and working—and continue to do so. We are living and working in an interesting time of transformation where the only surety is that the work world will never be the same again.
Fortunately, that brings some definite positives.
Innovative online platforms now allow teams to work anytime, anywhere, regardless of geography or four, fixed walls. Individual teams and large organizations can share ideas, collaborate and benefit from digital intelligence that is indubitably shaking up the concepts of communication, team cohesion, employee engagement, talent attraction and management.
Over the past few years, I have coached and worked with managers, leaders, entrepreneurs and HR professionals advocating for more disruptive ways of working for a better way of doing business.
The 9-to-5 workday, the traditional desk, the in-person meetings, the team in one location: all are now effectively obsolete. Here are some alternatives and inspiring stories from influencers bringing a breath of fresh air into their organizations— triggered by the need to create purpose-driven organizations, which support wellbeing, entrepreneurial and leadership mindsets, reimagined office spaces—while embracing the multi-generational workforce, global influences and the tech revolution>
Zoom to the Potential
“Clara” is managing a coaching firm in California with coaches spread over the US and Canada. She recruited her team on Zoom, screening and interviewing candidates as if they were sitting on the other side of her desk. She managed to build a team of people that she never met in person, but who still share the same values and views on coaching. She uses Zoom again to train and onboard her team. Coaching notes, tools and resources are all online and accessible by her team wherever they are. This applies to her clients too.
Clara did not need an office. She just needed an Internet connection and a flexible tool such as Zoom. Zoom Video Communications has now replaced Skype for keeping in touch. It provides remote conferencing services using cloud computing, combining video conferencing, online meetings and mobile collaboration. It is also a very comprehensive and affordable platform, great for small or large organizations, as you can have up to 500 participants engaged in the same training.
Clara recruited the people she needed and trained them, but how did she make a team out of them? Clara leaves her e-door open and makes herself available wherever she is. She holds office hours on Zoom every week, encouraging her team members to jump online and have an e-coffee with her, while answering any questions they may have.
She also runs monthly community calls to create team cohesion and share company news.
Slack is another of of her favorite tools. Instant messaging has replaced phone calls and emails, allowing anyone to ask a colleague a quick question as if they were across their desk—when in actuality they are 2,500 miles away from each other and have never met.
Room to Know and Grow
“John” leads the HR unit of a large international company with talents working from for different continents. Talent development is key to his HR philosophy, but hardly manageable with thousands of employees operating from across the globe. Key challenges revolve around building a global mindset and leadership, while creating the relevant connections between their international mobility and global talent management.
Employees want to grow, but barely know how. Managers want to support them, but do not know how either. Neither the employees nor the managers are equipped.
To address the situation, John now uses an online platform called Praditus—a self-sufficient tool, which brings to light someone’s potential and recommending more effective team/manager interactions. It also provides a learning centre with customized resources for every learning style and a daily action plan with an email digest to increase motivation to develop. It is a full package placing the employees at the center of their own development and receiving the support of their managers wherever they might be in the world.
It has been designed to uncover employee competencies and unique characteristics, created to provide a personalized, accessible and caring process that would allow individuals to pursue their own personal development. Essentially, the more they know who they are as individuals, how they operate and where their skill gaps might be, the more they will take charge of their careers and professional development to become actors in change.
The platform also provides John a source of information about the talents that he has in his organization, while offering all the resources needed for a manager to support their employees by developing management intelligence to become a manager-coach. Together, they can create a development plan, have effective and meaningful discussions, and move from reflection to action.
‘Coworking’ From Anywhere
“Laura” had a dream to travel the world and managed to negotiate working remotely for 12 months with her company based in Portland. She applied for the Remote Year program and decided to pack up her job and work while she traveled.
More and more people want to have ownership over their career, while integrating life into it. Remote Year explains to employers how they can partner with them to improve employee engagement, retention, and recruitment efforts—offering four and 12-month programs to work remotely and learn to become a more productive employee. They also take care of all the logistics including transportation, accommodations, local experiences and more against a fee, while promoting personal and professional growth through immersive cultural experiences.
Laura’s experience helped her build a convincing case for her employer on why such experience is a door to her professional growth. She is now living in and working from a different destination every month for the next 12 months—without changing anything to her role, responsibilities or impacting her employer’s business.
Importantly, anywhere Laura goes, there is a workspace community welcoming her that she can identify by using apps such as Coworker or Workfrom. Co-working spaces are on the rise and more and more platforms offer solutions to identify them, book a desk, prepare and ease the logistics to help people remain focused on their work.
These co-working spaces are an opportunity to socialize, meet people, exchange work practices, generate new leads and even close business. It can also provide great visibility for your brand.
Unleash the Remote Office
Zoom, Praditus, Slack and Coworker are just a few examples of the tools that are now available to manage teams in different locations. There are many more on the market that are being launched every day and may be a better fit depending on your needs.
However, all of this is only possible if the concepts of transparency, open conversations, trust, collaboration, empowering others and making all team members (self)leaders are front and centre to create new ways of working for your organization.
There is no longer one way of creating a workplace, but a plurality of alternatives inspired by people, company cultures and the nature of their work. Will you seize the opportunity and use it to pioneer the next employment brand’s best practices and be a reference for flexible working options?
Benedicte Flouriot is a career and leadership coach working with clients across industries and continents to find the career they were meant for and ways to excel within it.