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Via Human Resources Online : From ‘I’ to ‘we’: Change ‘illness’ to ‘wellness’ in the workplace together

If you are a manager or leader in-charge of a team, stop doing nothing and start actively treating mental health as part of employee welfare, affirms Maria Plengsangtip.

Over the years, scientists and psychologists have come up with a lot of formulas, anti-depressants and theories about mental illness. While anti-depressants suppress a lot of our symptoms, let me tell you a secret – one of the most important panacea of mental health is social support.

Sometimes, we like to think that we are single units of human beings, apart and distant from everyone. As far as our denial can bring us, we are not. We are social beings where others depend on us and we depend on others.

No matter how hard we try combating the negative feelings and emotions in our minds, more often than not, it only takes a simple show of concern like “Are you okay?” from someone else to keep us going for the day.

The three levels of social support

In the workplace, social networks are formed in complex webs of connections between units of hierarchies and different job scopes. So does social support – it comes from different levels – organisational, managerial and individual. All are vital in their own ways.

At the organisational level, employee assistance programs (EAP) and policies are fundamental ways to provide support for the employees. Organisations should review their existing framework of policies and initiatives to ensure that their mental health programmes are easily accessible and known to their employees.

One of the simplest, but mostly neglected, ways is to cover for staff’s psychiatric treatment. Once known, it will also encourage staff to seek help when faced with problems. Conducting mental health awareness weeks and campaigns lets employees know more about first signs and symptoms of certain mental illness and dismisses certain biases and stigmas surrounding mental health.

Workers spend most of their waking hours at work. As much as managers and individuals can do, it takes an open-minded organisation for the provision of holistic staff welfare – both mentally and physically.

Equipped with adequate skills to provide basic counselling and support for their employees will allow managers to notice if their employees are experiencing any problems.

At the managerial level, managers can attend workshops to improve their supportive leadership skills. Equipped with adequate skills to provide basic counselling and support for their employees will allow them to notice if their employees are experiencing any problems. Managers should also have sufficient resources like counselling hotlines or help so that they can refer their staff for professional help if they require any.

To make the workplace vibrant and lively, and filled with positive relationships and energy, managers can conduct hands-on activities for their staff to build teamwork and communication. If funds permit, they can also think about hiring external speakers or services to provide them with professional talks and workshops so that individuals have the opportunities to develop coping and peer support skills.

More often than not, managers do not realise their crucial role in promoting mental wellness, which results in them doing nothing about it. Doing nothing allows poor mental health to manifest in unhealthy ways. If you are a manager of a body of staff, stop doing nothing and start actively treating mental health as part of staff welfare.

At the individual level, we need to get rid ourselves and others of all the stigmas and biases surrounding mental illness. We need to understand that even though mental illness does not affect us like physical illnesses do, it does not mean that it is not important.

We need to stop thinking that mental health is insignificant. The intangible nature of mental health is frequently neglected. Additionally, we often forget that we are capable to saving someone’s life just by simply asking them about their day. It is important to consistently check-in on our employees and build positive relationships and be each other’s pillar of support.

Remember, we were never meant to be single unit of organisms; we are a collective of social beings dependent on one another.

Via The Ladders : How 2020’s latest office design trend will change teamwork forever

It’s been nearly a century since Frank Lloyd Wright designed the first open office design plan back in 1939 with the intent to encourage teamwork. The ‘design’ consisted merely of a few white columns, filing cabinets, and oval desks. Since then, the effectiveness of the open office has been a polarizing implication within the design community.

Because productivity is a direct result of an efficient workspace, the conversation around the office space is relevant to employees everywhere. Research suggests that poor office design can have inadvertent repercussions – the high concentration of people and low privacy is taxing on concentration and a strain on teamwork. Open office design, for that reason, has often been condemned as a counterproductive business model. A recent study revealed that employees within open-plan offices spend 73% less time in face-to-face interactions, whereas email and messaging use went up more than 67%.

As 2020 encroaches upon us, a select few designers have concurred that open design can, in fact, be an effectual model, if implemented correctly.

Ladders caught up with two lead designers at Steelcase, the global surface materials designer Kaitlyn Gillmor and Senior Interior Designer Jon Rooze, to gather their forecasts on the trends we can expect to see in 2020.

“The open office is the end-goal. Collaboration is important for how teams work together. The workplace as a social landmark is a trend that isn’t going away. The key is establishing an office environment that works effectively as an ecosystem on the whole,” said Rooze.

The designers forecast a predominant trend in the personalization of space. Brands will strive to be more transparent about their products, allowing for real, meaningful connections.

In one of Steelcase’s recent studies, they found that although 77% of employees have their own assigned workstation, the vast majority—87%—spend two to four hours every day working someplace else. Given the fact that 69% of all offices now have an open floor plan, according to the Steelcase Global Report, this fostering of authentic connections in teamwork is absolutely necessary.

Steelcase’s 5 design implications for 2020:

Origin Stories

A key component to the new office design that the Steelcase designers have picked up on is a greater push toward sustainability — in both the physical and abstract sense.

In order to achieve this, transparency is essential. People need to see beneath the surface. Whether it’s showing the origin story behind a product, or re-contextualizing ‘waste’ as a resource, designers will continue to make sustainability a rudimentary component.

“The bigger idea around origin stories is that there is an increasing interest in people wanting to know where materials are sourced…sustainability is integrated into all our design models. We’re constantly aware of how to minimize the amount of material we’re using,” said Gillmor.

“Brands want to come forward and demonstrate their own story,” said Rooze.

Connected Culture

According to the Steelcase designers, space should be indicative of a company’s values. If this isn’t immediately apparent upon walking into the office space, a redesign is necessary.

“People want to connect in a more physical way in the workplace…the workplace is a social landmark in people’s lives,” said Rooze.

In order to achieve this symbiosis, Rooze emphasizes the importance of ‘Functional team zones’. In this model, while teams may have individual workspaces allocated to their team alone, there should always be one ‘home-base’ in the office in which all employees can come together.

“It’s critical to have a home base where you can speak to each other without disturbing others. There’s good noise (the noise that comes from your team) and bad noise (noise from the other team). It’s so important to establish a balance that holds the tension to build that team space while allowing for openness in the rest of the environment. It should be a dynamic ecosystem. This allows for a cross-pollination of minds where people can still come together and speak freely,” said Rooze.

Social Medium

According to the Steelcase designers, there has been an increasing focus on creating office spaces that become destinations in which groups of people want to visit together.

“There’s an intense collaboration amongst teens and the way they come together and get information to each other quickly, and then send that information to people around the world. So we’re seeing a global interconnectedness. In design, we consider the things that are barriers to collaboration and dismantle them. How does this carry beyond being at a desk? This leads us to consider how we can use the entire space of an office to optimize its full potential,” said Rooze.

“We aim to create a module that would break things up into different spaces, giving team parameters and thus establishing psychological safety,” said Rooze. One example of a home base Rooze cited is a kitchen table — it creates a nucleus from which team members can gather around before returning to their own work zone. The emphasis here is on optional socialization; employees can come and go from the home base as they wish.”

Frictionless Environments

With the rise of the Boomer Generation eclipsing traditional workplace structure, designers are becoming more reliant on digital elements to streamline flow in the office spaces. Three of the five top barriers of collaboration are related to technology, according to a Steelcase study.

“We’re seeing a massive increase between physical and digital ways of working. This provides the opportunity to make completing tasks easier by augmenting the way people work so that employees can focus on things that are more creative, or that humans can do better than artificial intelligence can,” said Gillmor.

In one study, the Steelcase researchers found that the design of the space tends to create friction between people and technology—whether its a comfortable chair people don’t want to get out of, or a table — the space can be an obstacle to those interfacing with the content on the screen, resulting in disengagement.

Make Your Mark

The workplace has always been impersonal. But, according to recent research by Steelcase, the personalization of workspaces allow for a more streamlined workflow and collaboration amongst teams. The trend of personalizing space is not so much about ownership, but more about optimizing individual performance in a shared space. This means creating a space from which employees can freely shift furniture and elements of the space around to suit their performance style.

“We connect virtually to screens rather than physically connecting all ties into the concept of figuring out technology and giving back to the actual process of work,” said Rooze.

Via AV Interactive : Five workplace collaboration predictions for 2020

An end to the generational divide in tech use and a move from Bring Your Own Device to Bring Your Own Meeting are among predictions from Barco Clickshare, based on major survey research.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic change in the workplace. And this change will accelerate, with technology a disruptive force. This is according to Barco ClickShare which has revealed five of the most prominent trends set to impact collaboration in the workplace in 2020.

The company has developed insights, thanks in large part to a recently commissioned pan-European study, which looked specifically at the future of communication for the workforce.

The past few years have seen an explosion of meeting room technology. The survey highlights the fact that most (72%) respondents agree that meetings have drastically improved from five years ago. But it also emphasises that emerging technology will continue to dramatically disrupt the typical meeting experience. Analysing this landscape of changeability, Barco ClickShare has highlighted five trends which stand out as those which will dominate in 2020. These include:

1) The end of the generational divide

The generational divide we’ve seen previously with corporate technology is rapidly disappearing. 74% of people of all ages are now confident with technology, with 86% stating that they prefer meetings that embrace technology. 2020 will finally see the end of the stereotype of the “technophobic older generation” as new technologies play an increasing role in workplace communication and collaboration for all employees, from Generation Z to Baby Boomers. Organisations need to factor this in when developing workplace technology strategies and ensure they communicate to employees in a clear and consistent way.

2) Video and AI technologies to become the standard

The futuristic vision of corporate environments controlled by interconnected Internet of Things devices is becoming the reality for many large corporations, and Barco ClickShare’s research suggests white-collar professionals think this is only going to accelerate. Of the 1,509 employees surveyed:

  • Over three quarters (77%) stated that video will be standard in meetings within the next three years
  • 83% want to see voice recognition in meetings within the next two years.
  • 81% want video filters (like those available on apps like Instagram) to feature in meetings within the next two years.
  • Nearly a third (30%) want to see the use of hand gestures to control technology in meeting rooms, with 80% of those wanting it in the next two years.

Employees now expect technology in the workplace to keep pace with the consumer technology they are used to. Organisations need to keep pace with change and establish intuitive, experience-enhancing solutions that will wow their workforce, or face disengagement and impacted productivity.

3) Employees want a new reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions have not yet found their way into most corporate meeting rooms. But according to Barco ClickShare’s study, many employees can see significant potential for these technologies in the day-to-day workplace and want to see investment in their use. Most in-demand is the ability to use AR technology to overlay information onto visual content in realtime – bringing the technology which made apps like Pokémon Go so popular, into the office environment – something which 65% of respondents would like to see introduced. Commercially, this could for example enablean architect to bring their plans to life literally in a meeting, augmenting a computer-generated building, long before the first foundation has been laid. Utilising VR technology to meet via interactive virtual spaces was also a popular idea, with 81% of employees expecting this to be made available in the next three years. The technology is still nascent, but organisations should be thinking about what they could bring to the workplace in future – the future’s closer than they might think.

4) Remote working will continue to proliferate

The number of remote workers has increased 115% over the course of the last decade, and this trend is set to continue to accelerate in 2020. According to Barco ClickShare’s research, over half (53%) of meetings currently involve attendees who join remotely, with three quarters (74%) of those surveyed stating that they predict an increase in remote attendee-only meetings over the next three years. For remote collaboration to succeed, participants must still be able to interact with each other in the same way as they would in a face-to-face scenario. Organisations will have their work cut out for them when it comes to implementing the correct IT infrastructure. This will be vital to ensuring they have the correct technology in place to allow employees to collaborate efficiently and effectively from wherever they are.

5) Prepare for a Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) future

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) market has exploded, set to hit almost $637 billion by 2022. Now, we are entering the next phase of the BYOD trend, where employees will expect to not only join meetings from their personal devices, but host them using their personally preferred conferencing solution, rather than their organisation’s official corporate service. The rise of Bring Your Own Meeting is reflected in the responses of Barco ClickShare’s survey participants – 71% of whom stated they can already choose which conferencing solutions they use in meetings. Allowing workers to choose their own conferencing solution, as well as bring their own device, will allow organisations to better address the different dimensions of an effective digital workplace strategy, enabling an increasingly diverse workforce, from intern to contractor, to collaborate and contribute just as much as regular employees.


Lieven Bertier, segment director for the workplace at Barco ClickShare commented: “Barco ClickShare is witnessing first-hand how technological trends like VR, AR and voice recognition are transforming the AV and meeting room technology industry. In this regard, we are uniquely positioned to offer insight into the changing landscape of the meeting room experience, where technology is bringing the promise of better and smarter collaboration in meeting room and conferencing scenarios. Our findings are clear. Technology has already enhanced the meeting room experience, and will continue to revolutionise meetings in the future. As 2019 comes to a close, and we look ahead to 2020, this pace of change is only set to accelerate. Corporations should act now to ensure their meeting room equipment is capable of sustaining changing employee expectations and demands and, therefore, increasing productivity, collaboration and the overall workplace experience.”

Via HR Technologist : How Does AI-powered Digital Workplace Change Employees’ Life?

When AI comes to the digital workplace, it is not to replace employees, but to make their daily work more productive, along with increasing their engagement, reducing manual effort, and speeding up time-consuming workflows. Good news is that the widely used collaboration solutions, such as SharePoint, can already bring all of these benefits to your enterprise.

Technology has been making our lives easier for centuries. But now, as we’re running head-on into the 4th Industrial Revolution, it’s obvious that even the pace of change is shifting. Just a few years ago, it would be hard to imagine the ubiquity that cutting-edge tech is enjoying today.

Machine learning and AI is everywhere. In the last four years, the AI adoption rate in the enterprise has grown by 270%, with roughly a third of companies deploying artificial intelligence.

The workplace is not an exception, as companies are continually rushing to make their employees more productive. Today, practically any enterprise-grade productivity or collaboration system boasts AI capabilities. One of the prime examples would be SharePoint Intranet with its built-in AI features enabled through the Microsoft ecosystem. By exploring these capabilities, you can understand how AI is impacting modern digital workspace.

AI Mantras for Boosting Employee Motivation and Productivity

Employee motivation is a great challenge for modern employers. Nowadays, almost 30% of employees don’t feel motivated at work, and one of the top 5 reasons for their dissatisfaction is poor business processes and technology. So, let’s take a look at a couple of examples where AI can help employees spend time more productively with SharePoint.

1) Don’t Read, Take Action

Using Microsoft’s Cognitive Text Analytics, SharePoint users can analyze, sort, and prioritize content based on its sentiment or other attributes. Such an approach to text analysis can have a number of applications, which could potentially save time and improve productivity:

  • social media feed analysis to detect and act upon negative sentiment
  • email text analysis for priority case identification (emails with the highest negative scores get into a separate SharePoint list for processing)
  • recruitment analytics for improved candidate processing

Each of these scenarios can provide a visible ROI for the teams that have previously handled similar processes manually, sometimes spending hours just sifting through emails and messages. With over 120 emails sent and received daily per business user in 2019, it’s critical to cut some of the time spent on processing them with AI.

2) A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Organizations that use SharePoint as part of Office 365 can optimize their employees’ load with image recognition.

By using integrated tools like CustomVision.ai, developers can train image recognition models practically on any image. Organizations can also use Flow, another Microsoft application, to automatically process Office 365 images with a custom model.

Potential applications of AI-enabled image recognition are numerous:

  • Insurance claim image processing allows claims managers to log data to specific SharePoint lists and libraries and make them searchable for specific image attributes.
  • Business cards can be automatically logged and added to predefined lists and libraries in SharePoint and become searchable.
  • Lists of tags can be used to recognize products in specific categories and with particular attributes, which eliminates the need for manual tagging at the SKU level.

It’s worth mentioning that intelligent image recognition improves the overall content searchability as files get automatically tagged, thus saving a lot of time on each search.

What’s more, Microsoft is taking it a step further with video analysis in SharePoint, which transcribes video and audio content, further improving employees’ efficiency. When your employees might be spending up to 20% of their time searching for internal information, the business impact of precise enterprise search is obvious. Less time spent on searching translates into more time on tackling important business problems.

3) Going Global

Localization is a messy business when you want to make your content available to international audiences. Luckily, there is another great feature in SharePoint that can tackle this problem.

Source: Microsoft

The Machine Translation API (part of the Microsoft Cognitive Services) allows organizations to instantly localize content for users all over the globe, thus breaking the language barrier in employees’ collaboration.

Some Bumps Ahead

It’s important to remember that the human factor still affects all smart technologies. Just remember the famous Amazon debacle with their biased candidate selection algorithm. Similar problems might surface in training images used for custom image recognition routines through SharePoint.

Another important aspect is how people in the company treat such technologies. Over 40% of employees are not confident about their ability to adapt to the digital workplace. That’s why it’s important to communicate the value of AI, as well as demonstrate the new horizons of their productivity with a renewed focus on creative work, not routines.

A completely autonomous workplace can also endanger team collaboration. Dan Schawbel, a New York Times bestselling author, mentions in his book titled “Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation” the isolation of a modern workplace, with technology being a double-edged sword that can bring improved productivity at the cost of human connection. This is true for intranets, like SharePoint, that are aimed at providing everything an employee needs, potentially significantly reducing human interactions. Business leaders have to take all of these factors into account when bringing in AI and automation into their workspace ecosystem.

Via CMS Wire : How to Approach Change Management in the Digital Workplace

At last year’s ReIimagineHR conference, Garnter estimated that the average organization has undergone five enterprise changes in the past three years. Seventy-three percent of organizations expect more change initiatives in the next few years, and only a small minority expects the pace of change to decelerate. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to implement change effectively. In fact, only a third of change efforts are a success, 16% show mixed results, and half are clear failures.

The rate of change is impressive. The conference also revealed that, on average, employees now experience three major changes each year, compared to just 1.75 in 2012. To help employees, many enterprises have turned to change management.

Change Management Enables Work

Change management plays an essential role in driving the individual behavioral changes required to realize the potential of the digital workplace. Change management in itself changes the legacy work mindset because it approaches the employee as a stakeholder in the process of transformation instead of merely a resource that is affected.

Effective change management programs seek to proactively engage employees in the process of transformation, according to David Verhaag, the founder of Olifano. It does this by creating awareness and a desire to change, empowering the employee with the knowledge and capabilities to effect the change and reinforcing the employee’s value in the process to ensure the change is enduring. This is a dramatic change from a legacy way of working where leaders would simply make changes and expect employees to adapt and adopt new processes and technology.

Bill Kirst, a senior manager of the operations excellence practice with West Monroe Partners, a consulting firm focused on organizational change management for technology-driven change, said by adopting a growth mindset and letting go of a fixed mindset teams will appreciate the role modeling done by IT leaders to seek and understand wider perspectives to bring about growth. Challenge the status quo by inviting ideas shared through innovation channels for continuous feedback and encourage creativity and experimentation. But how to begin? There are three main steps.

1. Digital Strategy

Organizations should start first by experimenting with defining your digital strategy and any approach to digital transformation partnerships in order to determine a criteria list. The asked-and-answered criteria will likely shift in importance depending on which step of the digital transformation process they are in.

2. Test-and-Learn

They should then focus on moving your culture toward one that celebrates “test-and-learn,” to allow for adaptation without turning operations into lab experiments.

3. Customer-centric Approach

Make sure to take a customer-centric approach to using technology and use digital transformation to solve true business problems, delivering actual outcomes and not just delivering a new technology. In practical terms, this means focusing on a few key projects. “In the business, pick a few key projects that align to your digital vision and pilot new capabilities, new technologies and new ways of working. Tap leaders and influencers (change agents) to demonstrate the power of achieving a digital growth mindset. Celebrate idea generation and experimentation that contributes to employee engagement and enterprise learning,” Kirst said.

Innovation Across Multiple Dimensions

It’s a good bet that most organizations leaders would agree that business model transformation demands innovation across multiple dimensions. Orchestrating the interplay of people, process and technology to continually bring new value to customers is an immense challenge, both strategically and operationally, said Camille Nicita, the CEO and president of consumer intelligence agency Gongos.

A core reason why customer-centricity has traditionally been difficult to systematize is because no single organizational functional area has had ownership of it. The recent rise of the chief customer officer is a significant step toward the cultural transformation required to orient corporate teams such as marketing, innovation, product development and operations around the customer. However, the larger and more established an organization is, the more it is weighted down by its legacy structure.

The results that these organizations embark on are fragmented approaches to understand and engage with their customers. It’s not surprising, then, that they engage partners in a similarly disjointed fashion.

Data analytics firms provide the expertise and bandwidth to address big data challenges. Consumer insights companies bring forth understanding and market knowledge. Management consulting firms address strategic and organizational design needs. Creative agencies support corporate and brand communications. Customer experience companies provide “voice of the customer” platforms for measuring the customer journey and experience. “At the end of the day, however, this scattershot approach hinders decision-making power, and takes a significant toll on organizations both financially and operationally,” she said.

The most effective intelligence business model brings the disciplines of data science, communication design, consumer insights and analytics, strategic consulting, customer experience, change management and innovation consulting under one roof. By weaving these often-isolated disciplines together, organizations can engage with one firm to consult, execute and drive organizational change to fuel growth and ultimately create a more reciprocal relationship with consumers.

The Evolving Digital Workplace

The digital workplace is constantly evolving and we’ve reached a point where the number of tools and resources for employees to get their jobs done is at an all-time high. On top of that, the number of remote and deskless workers continues to grow. As a result, organizations are faced with constant change. In fact, Brian McDowell of SocialChorus pointed out that change management teams are forced to spend a lot of time figuring out how to implement the “soft side” of organizational changes, going over the goals and objectives, strategy and tactics, and basic changes to roles and processes.

When approaching a major organizational change, however, it is crucial to have all employees and stakeholders on the same page. This comes down to having the right technology in place to effectively communicate what the change will be, why the change is necessary, and the impact both within and outside of the organization.

“Rather than keeping employees in the dark, leaders need to be transparent about why the change is essential and how it will affect employees’ roles and lives. This is even more critical in today’s digital workplace where how we work is constantly changing,” he said.