Posted by: bluesyemre | August 9, 2021

The modern workplace (How can technology facilitate this new world of work?) 

A re-evaluation of our professional lives is afoot as individuals who were once deskbound find themselves happier, calmer and more productive by working in hybrid structures. How can technology facilitate this new world of work? 

For many staff in Dubai’s International Finance Centre, the hybrid world of work is here to stay. Offices in the world-famous financial hub could well be considerably less busy in the coming months than they once were, as companies both large and small look to combine home and office working. A survey by Microsoft Middle East and Africa (MEA) of business leaders in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Turkey and South Africa found that about nine out of ten business leaders envisage that this hybrid model of working will be around for the foreseeable future.


“It’s a great opportunity for us to create a new way of working that combines the best of both worlds.”

Surya Ramkumar, business group lead for modern work and security at Microsoft MEA

Putting people first

“It’s a great opportunity for us to create a new way of working that combines the best of both worlds,” says Surya Ramkumar, business group lead for modern work and security at Microsoft MEA. People will be the beating heart of this best-of-both-worlds modern workplace, she adds. That means reimagining the employee experience, offering the flexibility to tailor work and life in a way that fits individual circumstances and expectations. “For me, a new workplace starts from that people-centric view,” she says. 

Key to this is a holistic approach to the different facets of employee experience, taking in collaboration, well-being and personal growth, as well as more traditional elements such as productivity and efficiency. Technology can play a major role here: an employee experience platform, such as Microsoft Viva, can bring together all these systems of work and support in one place, leveraging AI to automatically identify, process and organise content for individual users.

“It’s built and designed with the employee at the centre of it and they have everything they want in an intuitive workflow,” says Ms Ramkumar.

Before the pandemic, AI and automation had already begun to play a role in our working lives, and this trend is set to continue, says Ms Ramkumar, adding that now is the time to focus on optimising and digitising processes. Business applications often sit in silos, so it also makes sense to integrate them on a single platform.

“It’s about making work simpler and more straightforward for people,” she says. “Simplicity comes when the tools are all in your workflow, and everything happens in one place. Technology almost fades into the background and the content comes front and centre.”

But what happens in a meeting when not everyone is physically present – can technology fade away? In the new world of work, it is crucial to find ways to bridge the gap between the physical and digital so that everyone can participate on an equal footing. Microsoft Teams Rooms is one answer for this. 

An office videoconferencing tool, it is principally designed to benefit the people who are not in the room. “You have the camera at eye level,” says Ms Ramkumar. “You have large screens so you can see the people who are not in the room as the same size as the people in the room, so they have the same impact, and when they talk, the voice comes from the place where they are on the screen.”

Stay safe

With so many people continuing to work from home, and external devices and networks offering new entryways for hackers, IT departments will have to remain vigilant. In fact, Ms Ramkumar describes the cyber threat landscape over the last 18 months as the most sophisticated in history.

“It’s really prompted a different way of looking at security,” she says. “The way we now approach it is through a zero trust mindset. So you assume you’ll be breached and you want to minimise the breach as much as possible.”

“How are you thinking about the experience that your people want; how are you innovating your processes; and how do you design the space, whether it’s a home office or a corporate office, for a hybrid working environment? People, processes and places – we need to reimagine them all.”

Surya Ramkumar, business group lead for modern work and security at Microsoft MEA

The zero trust concept is centred on the belief that organisations should not trust any person or device, either inside or outside their perimeters, and should strictly verify anyone trying to connect to their systems before allowing access. As Ms Ramkumar puts it, “It’s about trying to encompass all kinds of threats, whether they’re outside-in or inside-out.” This means that security is now everyone’s job, and the key is to ensure that the right tools, systems and security are in place so all employees can work safely wherever they happen to be.

Ultimately, says Ms Ramkumar, companies planning for the new world of work need to consider three questions: “How are you thinking about the experience that your people want; how are you innovating your processes; and how do you design the space, whether it’s a home office or a corporate office, for a hybrid working environment? People, processes and places – we need to reimagine them all.”

https://bit.ly/2VD9o3h


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