The workplace is progressively becoming more about how people connect digitally, and less so about the bricks and mortar that make up an office building.

By Joanne Shields, head of operations at BT in Africa

The latest BT CEO survey highlighted that digital transformation is rising on the corporate agenda, as nearly half of the South African CEOs surveyed regarded it as a top priority for their business strategies. Interestingly, improving employee experiences was highlighted as one of three primary drivers for adoption strategies – and 36,8% of South African CEOs surveyed regard mobile computing as one of the top four technology trends to impact their businesses over the next two to three years.


Ready, set, go mobile

Mobile working is something that both employers and employees welcome. Employers, for instance, like the positive impact flexible working can have on costs, productivity and staff retention. While employees enjoy the freedom of being able to work from anywhere – the work and lifestyle desires “to work from where I am” – and many expect their employer to provide them with the tools that support this and offer increased mobility, agility and flexibility in working parameters.

Our research shows that CEOs are clear about the advantages of a more digital experience for employees and customers, alike. Therefore, rather than resisting – and risk missing out on a potential competitive edge, or being on the backfoot to retain talented staff and/or digital consumers – businesses are putting serious clout into their mobile adoption strategies.

However, no business can achieve its digital transformation and mobile integration ambitions without enabling its employees to work more collaboratively. That means connecting more closely with colleagues, customers and partners and working more freely; untethered from desks and offices.

In our view, there are four factors that will determine a great digital experience for employees, including: simplicity and convenience; seamless integration; performance and reliability; and proactive, ongoing support.


Mapping to new office ‘personas’

Since the proliferation of the Internet – and subsequently mobile and smart devices – there are many trends that continue to promulgate the adoption of mobility in the workplace, including bring your own device (BYOD), cloud computing, business apps, Internet of Things (IoT) and more.

When designing a mobile adoption strategy, businesses should be mindful that mobility must centre on the coming together of people, process and technology in new ways. As this will result in fundamental changes in people, teams, business structures and even products/services – for better business results.

Our latest report on the Digital Employee cites that there are five simple building blocks to achieve a better employee experience and improved productivity: a more connected video-led workspace; easier working and collaboration away from the office; corporate apps; instant messaging services; and better devices.

We are already starting to see how adoption of these technology trends are affecting differences in generational approaches to technology and the relationship to the physical office space and working hours.

It must be noted, however, that simply adopting the latest collaboration technology – whether on premises, in the cloud or through a hybrid model – alone, is not enough for successful full mobile computing integration. It is also unrealistic to try to create a bespoke service for every employee, as not everyone needs the same flexible working experience.

Rather, businesses should take a systematic approach to identifying different groups of ‘personas’ that match the employees’ roles, workspaces and work styles. By developing ‘personas’ for groups of employees means that businesses will be better placed to provide the right mix of services and security for everyone. After all, that is what we’re all used to in our personal digital lives.

Adoption of mobile computing and BYOD trends increasingly lead to the consumerisation of work, but the key to successfully breaking the chains of the office is choice. Businesses need to start thinking about how they give employees more choice by building agility into the business through digital technology adoption – offering employees smarter ways of working to get the most out of their own productivity.