Column: Pierre-Luc Marilley, Head of Workspace & Collaboration, Swisscom
Will technology soon replace real-life encounters?
I vividly remember my first Blackberry. It was 1999 when the Blackberry ushered in a new era of cooperation. For the first time, you could send and receive emails and arrange appointments while out of the office. In today’s world, we’ve long become accustomed to the freedom of not being tied to a fixed workplace. Nothing documents the transformation better than a look inside a morning commuter train. Notebooks, tablets and smartphones are everywhere. People writing a quick e-mail, finalising a presentation or simply checking the news. I also use the time I spend travelling efficiently.
In fact, this snapshot of an early morning scene clearly reveals what employees are looking for from an employer. They want to choose freely when, where and with which devices they work. The flexible workplace is becoming ever more important, as digitisation and the generational change are reshaping the very foundations of the business world. For me, it’s everyday routine to communicate with my colleagues via chat for quick information, or take part in select meetings either online or by video conference. There’s no longer any need to waste time toing and froing between different locations, allowing me to use the time gained constructively in other ways.
More and more tools and platforms are becoming available for smart collaboration. Enriched by augmented reality, daily work routines are transforming into a completely new experience. For example with double robotics. In everyday parlance, this means a screen on wheels that lets you physically attend meetings without having to be there in person. Or holographic glasses that augment reality with digital objects. The boundaries between man and machine are becoming ever more blurred. But are these tools merely hype or actually the next revolution? They have one thing in common: they improve cooperation, give us the opportunity to flexibly choose our job location, and boost productivity. But if Work Smart is to be experienced proactively, it needs more than just the right technical solutions. The company must undergo a cultural transformation. Instead of racking its brains about choosing the correct tools, corporate management needs to have a clear idea about how the collaboration is to take shape. Because only a coherent vision will convince employees about the merits of networked communication and cooperation.
Pierre-Luc Marilley is a member of the Management Board of Swisscom Enterprise Customers, where he heads the Solution Center Workspace & Collaboration. In this function, he is responsible for productivity and collaboration solutions with the aim of enabling business clients, their employees and end customers to collaborate better and more efficiently. His area forms the Competence Center for issues relating to new worlds of work at Swisscom.
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