The workplace is becoming more agile. Gone are the days when working meant a 9-to-5, five-days-a-week schedule in the office, behind the desk in a company-assigned office or cubicle. Now work is being more defined by what is accomplished rather than by when or where it’s done.
Agile is more than flexible schedules that give some workers the chance to do some of their work at home or shifting their hours on some days. Agility is about giving workers a greater level of autonomy, empowering them to choose how they work, when they work and where they work. The result being that not only are the company’s goals met, but that the employees are happier, more engaged and more productive, and the workplace itself becomes more efficient and more collaborative. In the end, both the employer and the employee win.
Flexible work policies have been around for a long time, but the idea of a true agile workplace is relatively new. However, companies are beginning to see the benefits of creating such work environments. In a survey released by Vodaphone last year, they found 75 percent of companies worldwide–and 82 percent in the United States–had adopted some sort of agile or flexible policies, 61 percent reported seeing profits grow, and 83 percent said productivity improved. In addition, 58 percent said such work policies had improved their organization’s reputation.
In the United States, the effect on employees has been significant. According to the survey, 61 percent of companies with agile or flexible policies saw teamwork improved, and 60 percent of workers used the policies to improve work/life balance. Staff morale increased 77 percent, Vodaphone found.
Mobile devices have driven the growth of agile workspaces
There are multiple drivers behind this push for a more agile workplace, from the rising number of younger workers and their desire for greater balance and satisfaction in their careers to the need of executives to reduce the amount of money their organizations spend on office space. But at the core, what’s enabling this change is emerging technologies that let employees essentially work from wherever they want, at any time they want, in whatever environment they’re most comfortable. It provides a collaborative workspace, a traditional office or the café next to their home, allowing them to easily act as a team even if they are thousands of miles apart.
Mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, have given employees a level of freedom of movement more so than previously experienced, creating a mobile workforce that is as comfortable working from the airport as it is from the office. Mobility has been adopted by almost all workers, whether they’re Baby Boomers who remember the days of faxes and pagers or tech-savvy Millennials who grew up in a constantly connected world. Rapidly improving web-based communication and video conferencing technologies enable workers to share documents, talk and video conference while they collaborate, even if they are different sides of the world. And the cloud gives employees immediate access to the applications and services that allow them to get their jobs done quickly, from anywhere they are.
Central to all of this—what makes it possible for the work environment to change and for organizations to reap the rewards of a more satisfied and productive workforce—is reliable connectivity. Without strong cellular coverage, these technologies become little more than expensive, sleek and fairly useless gadgets. Organizations and building owners with visions of creating agile and flexible workplaces need to ensure that reliable indoor coverage is available to support the growing mobile and connected workforce. The risk is that poor coverage can lead to frustrated workers whose productivity is hindered by connectivity problems.
Reliable indoor cellular connectivity key to providing employees’ desired flexibility
In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. office workers conducted by Zinwave, 74 percent said they had experienced frequent or occasional problems with poor cellular connectivity in the workplace. That led to higher levels of worker frustration and stress, conditions that resulted in lost productivity. Executives will be under increased pressure to ensure that their workers have the reliable connectivity they need in this rapidly evolving and agile working world.
What is needed are strong indoor signals that are spectrum- and technology-agnostic. Using fiber cabling will mean a more affordable in-building wireless solution that is easier to install and thus less disruptive. In addition, the solution must support as many cellular and public safety frequencies as possible to ensure uninterrupted coverage and the ability to leverage the signals of multiple carriers. Organizations also want to ensure that the solution they use is future-proof, enabling them to add carriers and frequencies without having to add or adjust hardware.
How, when and where we work is changing, driven by technologies and capabilities that are made possible by wireless connectivity. Employees are demanding greater flexibility and autonomy, and companies that accommodate those demands are reaping the rewards of improved business efficiency and a happier, more content workforce. To make this happen, businesses will have to ensure strong, reliable connectivity. Without it, the many benefits of an agile workplace will remain out of reach.
Learn more from our Cellular in the Workplace Survey