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Even in the digital workplace, it’s still about the humans Even in the digital workplace, it’s still about the humans
A customer’s experience is only as good and seamless as the human being who has devised the technology, says Anton Herbst. Even in the digital workplace, it’s still about the humans

Your local IT guy, installing software, is rapidly being replaced by an intricately-coded “brain” that doesn’t have a body and can live anywhere. The cloud has changed the way technology resellers and IT service companies do business and we’re now having critical conversations about how to adapt to the cloud revolution and avoid redundancy.

We’ve been focused on the customer experience and a customer-centric business model (versus a service- or product-driven approach) because it’s as easy for someone to buy an Azure subscription or Office 365 licences as it is to call in a reseller or an IT partner.

Humans are the critical component

But a customer’s experience is only as good and seamless as the human being who has devised the technology, its ease of availability, and its potential to drive productivity and efficiency. The brains made of grey matter, blood, nerves and sinew are the critical component of the brilliance of the cloud and other tech services.

While we’re trying to make money and beat the economic downturn, we forget about the human element altogether, believing that human capital management and development is for the big players and even then, is a nice-to-have and not a must-have.

New workers expect more

What does a human being need to thrive and create and how can the work environment facilitate this? The workforce, owing to technology, is becoming mobile and equipped to work remotely. Employees are getting younger too: Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010) – the first true digital natives – have made an entrance into the world of work and are here to disrupt the 9-5 and the hierarchy. They expect flexibility and the opportunity to work in the funky “coffice” (a coffee shop with internet connectivity that doubles-up as an office) down the road.

Nevertheless, we have to cater to a diverse workforce – including older workers.  This means we should look at how best to facilitate cohabitation and collaboration when there’s competing desires and work environment preferences. It’s true that some of the best conversations happen in the corridors and in face-to-face meetings. But it’s also true that some people need to work at home, where there’s guaranteed to be minimal disruption, to get their best work done. 

Good office design is vital

Office space design is important. While the open plan is conducive to collaboration, it also hinders productivity and doesn’t suit every personality type. The office of the future is one where people, of all personality types and age groups, want to come. It’s where there’s space for dialogue and community, and for quiet and concentration. Basics include telephone booth-type spaces for plugging in a laptop or having a telephonic conversation; different size meeting rooms; standing desks and hot desks.

The CEO will face constant trade-offs in getting the right balance between the new and the old and spending money the organisation can’t afford versus allowing the business to spiral into a cycle of diminishing returns.

However, wise leaders know that they need to focus on people in all their diversity as much, if not more, than the product or service.

Anton Herbst is the group strategy director for the Tarsus Technology Group

[Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash]

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