The mass workplace exodus of 2020 was full of ups and downs. The beginning was bliss (how could you not love working from home?). Now almost two years later, the end – assuming it’s somewhere in sight – feels draining. The pandemic has proven the value of tearing down physical boundaries and still being able to deliver positive business outcomes, yet physical presence has undeniable value. This isn’t to say remote work is bad or doesn’t play an important role in the future of employee experience. There needs to be the right balance, which employers overall are still trying to find.
Employee Experience: What has worked and what hasn’t?
When we talk about “pre-pandemic” and hopefully “post-pandemic,” we act like it’s a binary choice. Work either has to go back to the way it was in 2019 where employees gather in the conference room and the tools that were used, developed, and learned over the last 20 months go out the door. Or, it has to catapult into the trajectory set by 2020 where no one ever physically goes back to an office, and office spaces seemingly collapse. Neither is a true scenario.
When we look to the future of work, it starts with addressing what has worked for the employee experience and what organizations and their workforces have identified as areas for improvement. What has worked is clear: being able to do business in new and exciting ways despite mass disruption, from the way businesses expand their talent pools to a more flexible work schedule.
What hasn’t worked is also clear. Video conferencing has become a lifesaver, but it has also been an anchor on employee wellness. We’re not meant to sit in front of a screen eight hours a day hopping on video meeting after video meeting. We don’t need to be “always on,” nor should we be expected to. Employees need both asynchronous (non-real-time – i.e., email, messaging) and synchronous (real-time – i.e., video, phone) communications in one single, easy-to-use interface. Application fatigue is also very real. Employees are overwhelmed by all the places they have to monitor, react to, and research every day. There’s no good reason to be using a handful of different apps to get work done.
The future of employee experience is not only about where works gets done, but how it gets done – how we’re iterating, how we’re innovating, and how we’re collaborating. Organizations have applied a myriad of band aids when what’s really needed is one powerful, fit-for-purpose communications solution that digitally transforms business workflows. This is where workstream collaboration (WSC) comes into play.
The power of workstream collaboration
Workstream Collaboration (WSC) is the next evolution of Unified Communications. It provides organizations with everything they need to make the blended work approach work: ease of use and interactivity, mobile-centricity, breadth of seamless functionality, and global accessibility. Gartner predicts that by the end of next year, 70% of teams will rely on Workstream Collaboration as their primary means of communicating, coordinating, and sharing information.
What does this look like in action? Consider the meeting I participated in for the creation of this blog. Using Avaya’s Workstream Collaboration platform, Avaya Spaces, I joined a team of folks (creatives, project manager, etc.) in a “space” that the project manager created. In this space we’re able to organically get work done:
- We can quickly initiate video and content-sharing meetings anytime, anywhere
- We can upload notes and ideas before, during, and after meeting(s)
- We can surface spontaneous moments of inspiration; the kind you get when everyone is in the same physical space verbally brainstorming
- We can have a threaded discussion about the project, and when the meeting is over a recording becomes instantly available to everyone in the space
- We can communicate however we want (call, meet, message, screenshare) with the ability to store documents, assign and track tasks, and more – all in one single, cloud-based app
Everything is happening right where we’re meeting and where the work is happening, wherever that happens to be. No redundant or siloed apps. No creative friction. Just free flowing, outcome-focused engagement through simple, consolidated, digitally transformed workflows. This quick video does a great job of explaining this concept further.
Composability: The cherry on top
If organizations start focusing on consolidating and streamlining through a fit-for-purpose tool like a Workstream Collaboration platform, they will achieve workplace nirvana. Then they can take this one step further with composability via Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS).
Avaya OneCloud CPaaS, for example, offers anyone (developer or not) an easy-to-use platform with a comprehensive set of communications functions that can be seamlessly incorporated into any type of application. With Avaya Spaces built on CPaaS, you can easily extend and scale the app’s functionality to include things like AI, chatbots, and IoT to create unique solutions that are needed to fit specific workflows and vertical applications.
For example, you can create an automated notification service that proactively communicates with your employees (and customers if using the app as a customer service solution). Or you can create a smart auto attendant that greets callers and answers commonly asked questions with easy fall back to live agents if needed (ex: a bank can create a virtual online branch, or a healthcare provider can create an intelligent COVID-19 hotline). You can compose the exact kind of communications solution your employees and customers want to create the outcomes your business needs. Check out this article and this article by fellow Avayan Davide Petramala for a deep dive into composability.
There’s a lot of thought that goes into what the future of work is, and there are a lot of challenges that frankly no one has all the answers to. Imagine, however, what can happen when you push outside the boundaries of your business.
Start being more productive today.
By Todd Zerbe, Senior Vice President, Engineering for Avaya