Recently we took another quick look at the demise of the office space, as the general trend towards remote working grows. As the physical working space is changing, so is the virtual one. We have all heard (probably too much) of the "social enterprise", but what does it really mean? And is it really improving work performance?
My first reply to that is: it has to. There may be more experimentation required to find the perfect solutions, but remote working is happening and therefore we do need new ways to communicate.
In addition I firmly believe that working trends are continuously evolving in the endless pursuit for increased productivity and performance. There may be some trial and error involved, but the direction is maintained.
The truth is that even with all employees in the same office at the same time, communication is never perfect. We still will sit at our desks and send out a dozen emails to discuss a subject that would have taken a 5 minute conversation face to face. And if we rely too heavily on email for basic conversations, think of the other information we are ignoring by not having the appropriate push tools: team updates, corporate updates, files to be shared, meeting reminders, business intelligence, reporting, etc.
This isn't just about keeping informed: interaction is also important, especially in the Innovation department.
The above table is a Mckinsey study showing that social technologies can increase enterprise productivity by up to 25%. Not everybody agrees with the study's outcome, but perhaps it is a question of the new work tools becoming the norm, rather than part of "trying something new".
From personal experience: workflow has been improved and vastly simplified by tools like document-sharing sites, project collaboration tools, internal chat applications and good old web conferencing. I have made it a personal mission to minimise emails: it is a long-term mission, I'm beginning to see, but I will keep working at it.
I am a firm believer in these new collaboration and knowledge sharing tools, but I also think they are in infant stages, and it will take a couple of work generations for them to become the norm. Having said that: generations are becoming shorter too, so established new practices may still occur faster than we expect.
Agree or disagree with this assessment, the subject certainly can't be ignored.