Attracting new talent is no easy task for businesses in fast-moving sectors. To gain an edge over other establishments, some companies have found a new way to lure promising candidates into their office by investing in new technology.
A report published by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), an international firm that specializes in commercial real estate services and investment management, revealed that competitive businesses are spending up to three times more on tech tools and digital integration. The majority of establishments allot roughly 15-20 percent of their construction budget on IT-related spending. Though it is not rare to see some businesses push that threshold as high as 25 percent.
“The digital workplace is a major trend in corporate real estate right now,” said David Roberts, managing director at JLL. “It’s complex, challenging, and costly.”
Attracting and Retaining Talent
The ultimate goal for businesses that are heavily invested in technology is attracting and retaining talent by creating a mobile workforce and supporting digital collaboration. A mobile workforce provides the ability to perform tasks in different parts of (or within a close distance from) the office while staying digitally connected via gadgets and the internet. Today’s workers favor this type of environment because it offers superior flexibility. Mobile workforce options give individuals control over their work space, which has been linked to an increase in productivity and comfort.
Jumping on the mobile workforce bandwagon requires a hefty investment in software, cloud-based networks and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) services. Gene Richardson, COO of Experts Exchange, believes that demand for rentable offices spaces will increase prolifically, as more businesses cater to mobile workforce trends.
Facilitating digital collaboration is another way companies are winning over new talent. Businesses may invest in wireless communication tools, such as headsets, microphones and video conference platforms, to reduce clutter, support group workflows and offer more space for storage or movement. When using such devices, employees expect a seamless experience.
To promote quality collaboration, some businesses are transitioning from large, 12-person conference rooms to six-person “huddle rooms.” Jeff McDonald, vice president of sales for Anderson Audio Visual, explained that today’s employees are working together using group messaging platforms, like Google Hangouts and WebEx. Because of this, the need for big meeting spaces is on the decline.
Types of Tech in the Modern Workplace
Although tech installations are getting cheaper to implement in the office, many businesses are still very particular about the type of devices, networks and machines they invest in. One of the latest, and perhaps the most interesting, development in modern workplaces is the adoption of enterprise wearables. Brands that specialize in health trackers, like Fitbit, are targeting businesses by combining company wellness programs with their flagship devices. Such gadgets are being used to reduce healthcare costs and keep a close eye on the well-being of individuals in the space.
Businesses that want to increase support for meticulous documentation are diving into smart glasses and headsets. “For instance, if you had someone working in a lab, you could see if they consulted a training manual or if they were following procedures and know what they are pulling up through looking at the camera,” explained Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC).
Virtual reality is another tech-savvy tool that could help boost engagement in the workplace. With a realistic simulator, companies can streamline job orientation by re-creating situations that employees are likely to encounter while working. Such devices also allow HR staff to see how individuals interact with their virtual environment. This type of real-time feedback is extremely valuable, often resulting in a deeper understanding of the worker’s personality and professional skills.
Implementation: How to Get It Right
Spending on technology in the workplace can quickly get out of hand without an actionable plan. One of the most important recommendations from JLL involves prioritizing tech integration during the office design stage. It’s easier to implement wire feedings, wall plugs and mounted devices (just to name a few) when the space is bare and not in use. Attempting to bring in construction crews when the business is fully operating could disrupt employees.
In order to get the most out of one’s investments, it is essential to focus on using technology to improve existing workflows, instead of implementing a completely new way of doing something. An example of this is the introduction of elaborate sales tools that offer too many options for employees, which increases the risk of overcomplicating existing processes. For a lean approach to tech implementation, companies should utilize internal surveys and employee feedback to prevent the application of non-essential upgrades.
“Resist the temptation to over-engineer. Feature-bloat is a top killer of usage. Too many bells and whistles get in the way and then the tool never gets used,” said Shannon Leahy, Senior Content Strategist at Unboxed Technology.
Lastly, to ensure widespread adoption, businesses should consider rolling out new technology in small groups. Taking this extra precaution could help companies iron out the kinks (if any) and gather feedback before the final release.