The workplace of the future has long been at the forefront of peoples’ minds and visitors to the German magazine funkschau’s Digital Workplace Forum certainly were able to feel this. Some 130 drivers of innovation, technology experts, decision-makers and users came together under the historic beams of the Fürstenfeld event forum, near Munich, to discuss the digital workplace. Through workshops, talks and an exhibition, the guests learned about tools and strategies all designed to make their workplaces future-proof. Andreas Wilker, responsible for driving the Bechtle Modern Workplace, also gave impetus to the event with his opening keynote.
„What we need is the right mindset—the openness and the will to try new things and discover for ourselves how they can be useful.“
Andreas Wilker during his presentation at the Digital Workplace Forum.
Mr Wilker, your keynote was called “What makes work future-proof?”. Could you give a brief summary of the answer?
A future-proof workplace is characterised by closer, quicker and more efficient cooperation, both internally and externally, and with the aid of collaboration technologies such as new software like Microsoft Teams or WebEx Teams.
What tangible benefits does modern collaboration software offer?
With Microsoft or WebEx Teams, we can more quickly and effectively communicate on projects, above all with the online meetings, group chats and screensharing features. External experts can easily be involved in projects, meaning that the number of business trips required is declining. These collaboration tools are also creating an attractive working environment—and it's having a positive effect on employee motivation, too.
In your opinion, what are the three most important core messages from the Digital Workplace Forum?
1. Almost all speakers came to the conclusion that companies need to put the user first in their projects in order to ensure a successful digital workplace.
2. And there’s no “one-size-fits-all”, it always has to be a custom solution—tailored to the company’s needs.
3. Both the scope of the digital workplace and speed at which it will sweep through companies is still underestimated.
The digital workplace is no longer a technical challenge, but rather one of getting the users on-board. You have to establish a good atmosphere in an enterprise. Make the digital workplace fun, that’s the key.
In your view, how far have companies come?
We’re noticing an increasing interest in the opportunities offered by the digital workplace from SMEs, which is partly due to the increasing acceptance of cloud services in enterprises. The cloud offers a good foundation for building on the workplace of the future.
How can companies best implement the modern workplace?
There’s no universal template to follow. Every company has a different starting point. Implementation often begins with simple tools and small functional changes in line with financial possibilities. These could be functions we already know from a private environment like chat or file sharing.
But it's important not to rush things so as not to overwhelm people. The digital workplace is no longer a technical challenge, but rather one of getting the users on-board. You have to establish a good atmosphere in an enterprise. Make the digital workplace fun, that’s the key.
And how can we make sure it’s a success?
Often you have to start with the corporate culture. It usually has to be adjusted and the users given more freedom in terms of trust-based working hours and locations. The modern workplace needs to be completely integrated into corporate processes. User training isn't very effective here, because what they need to learn is constantly changing. What we need is the right mindset—the openness and the will to try new things and discover for ourselves how they can be useful.