Building the Workplace of the Future

Andrew Morawski, President, Vodafone Americas [LON:VOD]
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Andrew Morawski, President, Vodafone Americas [LON:VOD]

Workplaces all over the world are undergoing rapid transformation. From the introduction of new digital technologies, to the trend toward open office spaces that encourage collaboration, to the changing face of the workforce itself as a new generation of workers start careers, modern companies are constantly innovating.

Communication technologies have played a major role in the evolution of the modern workplace, and as we look toward the future, digital communications tools will continue to have a deep impact on the way we work. While many technologies like collaboration tools, cloud computing and other services have changed and will continue to disrupt the workplace in the coming years, there are three core trends that will lead the way. These defining influences include the shift toward a ‘Gigabit’ workplace, the consolidation of communications technologies for businesses, and increased flexibility in how we approach work.

Introducing the Gigabit Office

Today, businesses are better connected than they’ve ever been. We are building connectivity into everything we do in the workplace and beyond. In fact, Gartner has predicted that there will be over 20 billion connected things by the year 2020—that’s nearly triple the Earth’s population. With more connections comes higher user expectations for the use of these connections—that means the need for even more reduced latency.

In order to ensure our businesses can support the rapidly growing demand for quick, efficient connections, our infrastructure has to keep pace. It’s been common practice for the telecommunications industry to rely on copper-based legacy connections. To introduce a gigabit office, the legacy connections will not suffice. Communications providers must innovate beyond copper-based connections since they are quickly becoming insufficient to support the connections required by modern businesses.

  ​Today, businesses are better connected than they’ve ever been. We are building connectivity into everything we do in the workplace and beyond 

Instead, we must build a ‘Gigabit Society,’ one in which we can benefit from widespread connectivity of one gigabit per second, low latency, reliable performance delivered by robust technologies. A gigabit office can be achieved by implementing fiber-based networks, which will help to future-proof our places of work.

A ’Total Communications’ Approach

While it’s no secret enterprises around the world are moving toward fully-digital business environments, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It is a challenge to keep track of all available technology options and how they connect within the enterprise. Future workplaces will benefit from a total communications approach in which a consolidated (or reduced) network of partners assists in the management and deployment of telecommunications technologies.

Creating an environment in which elements such as wireless, wired and cloud-based communications tools are supported by one provider offers several benefits to enterprises moving toward digital environments. For example, a total communications approach allows businesses to be significantly more agile—with access to communications tools that are fully compatible and operate on a consolidated system. Employees can better connect with each other and with customers and partners, ultimately making business processes simpler and more manageable. A total communications approach will also give organizations more visibility into back-end data that is shared over a company’s networks, allowing the company better access to valuable insights.

Work Will Become More Flexible

The technologies we use for business become more reliable and efficient every day. As we continue to implement new systems into business operations, we can be more flexible in the way we use them. For example, mobile devices, instant messaging systems and video conferencing allow many employees to work anywhere, anytime. With advanced, reliable connections, these technologies can help foster meaningful communication between employees and with customers, offering the same level of contact whether employees are working from home, from an airport or out in the field.

Workers who can be more flexible are more productive, meaning employers ultimately benefit too. According to Vodafone’s global survey, “Flexible: Friend or Foe,” 75 percent of companies worldwide have introduced flexible working policies, and 83 percent of those companies have seen significant improvements in productivity. More than half of those companies have benefitted from increased profitability, and many believe they have seen a positive shift in reputation. In the coming years, workplaces around the world will continue to trend toward flexible working policies. In the workplace of the future, work will be about what you do, rather than where you go.

As technology improves, so does the way we do business. Organizations that succeed over their competition in the future will be those that embrace technology in ways that directly benefit their employees and customers and make processes more agile, such as building a Gigabit Office, moving toward a total communications approach and introducing flexible working policies. Digital tools and the ways we implement them will ultimately shape the workplace of the future.

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