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Hot desks in the cloud: the opportunities and risks of digital workplaces

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 13:47

By Hamish Williams

Remember when we use to send tiny strips of dead tree to each other to deliver a message? What about those aluminum monoliths with the sliding drawers we used to keep all the tiny slips of dead tree? Some of us in the aged care facility may remember a time when if you weren’t sitting at your desk you were completely uncontactable. How very primitive.

The last 20 years have seen unprecedented change in the way organisations conduct their day-to-day business. Technological advances such as email, smartphones and cloud computing have revolutionised every aspect of an organisation’s operations. This revolution has seen vast improvements in productivity, customer service and internal communications.

An organisation’s communication activities are now almost completely reliant on digital technologies. This reliance comes with some real concerns for managers however. While the ease of communication over email is obviously a vast improvement over traditional letter writing, the truth is people were much more likely to talk in person or over the phone before email became prevalent.

Messages were less likely to be misconstrued in this context and there was generally greater conviviality between colleagues as a result. Consideration should be given to educating employees on the appropriate methods for communicating within an organisation and with clients. Building rapport within teams as well as with external stakeholders should still factor some the more “old fashioned” methods of communication.

Video conferencing has likewise been a godsend for organisations with a large national or international geographic footprint as it allows managers to hold meetings with employees or clients in another city. While this technology certainly allows an organisation to save costs and time on travel, there are benefits to managers making the effort to attend meetings in person where possible.

The presence of senior management on the ground away from the head office goes a long way to making the employees present feel included and part of the organisation’s agenda. Clients will also view the extra effort to attend in person in a much more favourable way and it allows for the informal conversations that are a key component of building relationships with clients.

An improved customer experience is a benefit that organisations frequently gain as a result of adopting digital technologies. Businesses in every industry are reaping rewards from digital technology that enables them to capture data, process it, run complex, in-depth models and harness the information to improve and tailor customer experiences.

This presents new challenges in itself however, and being sensitive and intelligent about the way in which data is captured and used is of paramount importance. But the potential of some of these technologies and techniques is huge.

New digital technologies are also crucial for businesses that want to meet modern customers’ expectations. Customers today use slick hardware, fast, functional apps and they demand the same level of sophistication from anyone they do business with. Rather than worry about bells and whistles, the most effective businesses are looking at how they can give their customers what they want while asking them to make as little effort as possible to receive it.

Education falls into this category as providers today rely less and less on text books and reams of course notes to teach their students. Students and participants today expect lessons to be provided in a mix of mediums, though classroom teaching, online discussions, video tutorials and interactive learning portals so it’s essential that education providers not only match these expectations, but exceed them.

AIM’s flexible study options, with a choice between on-campus, online learning or a blend of both coupled with rolling enrollments means you can learn and graduate at your own pace. AIM has developed an online campus called AIM Connect that provides an online community where collaboration and engagement can provide a more effective learning experience. AIM Connect provides a community approach to self-directed study and allows Business School participants the opportunity to share their experiences, ideas and questions through features such as live chat forums and integrated social media platforms.