The future of work – an opportunity to reimagine

Recently the IDC European IT Buyer Sentiment Survey revealed that 38% of organisations supported remote working Pre-March-2020. Following Boris Johnson’s announcement introducing the nationwide lockdown that number swiftly shifted to 89%. The leadership teams of organisations up and down the country took swift and decisive action.

After all, nothing drives agility quite like urgency. And nothing enables agility quite like technology.  Now business leaders need to make a different type of decision. How to get back to work and what that should look like.

WorkspaceGetting back to business

Leaders find themselves at an unusual juncture in time, facing extraordinary obstacles but at the same time, opportunities. To navigate a successful path back to a profitable business will be tricky. But those who embrace the challenge and take a bold approach could stand to gain significantly.

Why? Because merely going back to ‘business as usual’ could prove to leave them dangerously behind a quickly developing future business curve. An accelerating curve is driven by technology and both employee and customer expectations.

So leaders need to make their plans now in order to shape their organisation’s potential future. The eventual strategy will need to move their business forward to where they believe it should be. But what should that belief be?

Rising to the future of work

Leaders should seek to harness and cultivate the new mindset their organisation has adopted and displayed during the recent crisis. It was a willingness to embrace change that enabled organisations to move to mass remote working in such a short space of time. 

This same mindset can, therefore, be the enabler for new initiatives and opportunities. As the future will require a workforce that is agile, flexible and adaptable.

An opportunity to reimagine

So what is the future? Well, the thought of everyone travelling to and from an office daily already seems like an idea from a bygone era. Similarly, the suggestion that managers need to see people at their desks to believe they are working is redundant. We’ve moved beyond these traditional views. It’s time to reimagine how we work. And that probably starts with our traditional office workplaces.

The office no longer needs to be a location, visited daily with one specific function. They’ll become more fluid, smarter offices which act as a hybrid space designed to unify people under your brand. A destination where people want to go, but don’t need to.

They will be places where your purpose is omnipresent and your people, partners and customers come together to pool and create ideas before heading off to work remotely. They will be a place of inspiration, imagination and learning.

And at the same time, they will be more enjoyable, safer and healthier. With less reliance on traditional ‘touch’ computing, instead, they will adopt more virtual technologies so everything can be accessed and implemented remotely from a mobile device, voice or identification scanning.

Accelerating automation and machine learning

As the hybrid workspace takes shape leaders should also think about their current business processes and practices. How information and data is managed, transferred and used across the organisation. What processes still rely on manual and physical actions and how these can become automated.

Accelerating the use of automation across the organisation will support a hybrid operating structure and enhance remote working capabilities. The opportunity to remove repetitive tasks and introduce machine learning to fully automate key processes will create new competitive opportunities and advantages for organisations.

Sophisticated automation can work alongside your people. Freeing them to focus their ingenuity and problem-solving skills to build the real capital in your business – IP. With more time available they can engage in lifelong learning to overcome the digital skills gap and deliver innovation.  Now is the time to take a serious view of automation and the benefits it offers.

Seek a knowledgeable partner

Understanding these opportunities and their potential will be key to defining every organisation’s future. Getting this right is more critical now than it has ever been. Getting it right will set your organisation on a path to greater success. 

So it’s essential to seek the support and ideas of a specialist workplace transformation partner. They will help you ask the right questions and validate what’s possible, by when and how.

The right partner will have skills which range from initial consulting through to technological planning and implementation. They will be objective and collaborative. Having partnerships with the major technology vendors and solution providers, they will recommend only the most appropriate, best of breed technologies.

Armed with this collective insight you can prepare to build a transformed organisation that will inspire employees, build trust with buyers and align CSR with the business purpose. 


But above all, your organisation will be ready to challenge and compete tomorrow.


Phil Keoghan

Chief Executive Officer of Ricoh Northern Europe

Read all articles by Phil Keoghan