The transforming nature of work and a younger workforce are altering workplaces, from pure ‘work hubs’ into ‘social hubs’. Workplaces now have transformed into spaces that provide an enjoyable work life as well as the opportunity to socialize with their colleagues during and after work. It’s time to welcome the ‘Social Office’ —a place where collaboration is easy, social media is welcomed, and the health and wellness of employees are taken care of.
Collaboration in the workplace stimulates creativity, engagement and innovation, and an overwhelming 97 percent of employees and executives agree. They believe a lack of collaboration within a team negatively impacts the outcome of a task or project. The Social Office encourages maximum collaboration among colleagues by replacing perimeter offices and rigid layouts with flexible workspaces and open floor plans. Employees can reach out to their colleagues, boss or even senior leaders without much inhibition, something which traditional office layouts with cubicles and segregated work desks don’t allow.
The evolution of the Social Office can also be attributed to the changing employee demographic—millennials now are the largest generational group in the workforce. Millennials abhor constraints when it comes to collaboration in the business environment. Workspaces need to be spaces where they can work, play, and learn. This preference for a culture of collaboration is encouraging organisations to create fun spaces to work. Companies with collaborative workspaces gain an added advantage when it comes to attracting talent as well. For apart from good salaries, innovative workplaces are the next biggest item on the list of potential employees.
With the ubiquitous presence of social media—employees spend an average of 32 percent of their working hours on various social media—the Social Office is changing its perceptions around its use. A majority of companies today have developed policies around acceptable usage of such platforms, and are starting to leverage social media to enhance workplace productivity. In fact, the use of networking tools in the workplace has been found to increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent for global software development teams. Workplace collaboration tools such as Flock, Facebook at Work, Yammer, Jive, LinkedIn and Chatter are increasingly being used for faster communication, and better collaboration.
Gartner’s prediction that the enterprise market for ‘unified communication and collaboration’ technology will exceed $42 billion in 2019, is a clear indication of the changing workplace which is accepting of social media. Enterprises have found that social media and chat platforms elicit a far quicker response than traditional email, thereby boosting productivity and encouraging participation across geographical locations. Enterprise support functions such as HR and IT benefit from social media as well. Recruitment teams find it easier and much more effective to target the right candidates, while IT support via social platforms results in quicker turnaround time.
The sedentary nature of modern office work, as well as the increasing number of hours spent in the workplace is causing adverse effects on employee health. The Social Office understands the direct link between the employee health and productivity and creates an environment that supports the health and well-being of the employees. A recent report released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) found that on an average, that every rupee spent on employee wellness, translated into employers gaining ₹132.33 as savings on the cost of absenteeism and ₹6.62 back as reduced health care costs. And corporate India is keen on investing in the health of its workforce.
Leading IT services companies now offer an assorted range of resources to empower an employee to focus on their health and wellness. Apart from traditional options like onsite nutritionist and fitness-friendly infrastructure, activities such as relationship counselling, diagnostic tests, Zumba lessons, sports tournaments and acting, movie making, guitar classes are also available to some employees.
To address the health challenges in the present day dynamic business environment multinationals in the industry are often consulting experts in the interior design space. The intention is to build a ‘Social Office’, which is collaborative, social media friendly and a propagator of employee health and wellness initiatives will empower organisations in their quest to be future-ready.