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How a Hybrid Workplace Grew a New Corporate Culture

How a Hybrid Workplace Grew a New Corporate Culture

While the rest of us have been obsessing about what hybrid workplaces are doing to corporate culture, one D.C.-headquartered office has been quietly getting on with the transition. And in the process, they’ve created a hybrid-office proof of concept: With good planning, good design, and employee input, corporate culture is even stronger and more positive than before.

Journalist Rasheeda Childress recently reported on a national association’s shift to a hybrid workspace. The association was looking at new office space when the pandemic hit, and like everyone, they flipped to remote work. In conversations with employees, leadership realized that that a permanent shift in office life was in the works.

Based on employee input, the association established an updated set of criteria for their new offices, with flexible scheduling in mind. Now the association’s new space includes reservable “hoteling” offices as well as dedicated offices, with an overall space reduction of more than 15%. To address corporate culture, they established new employee designations designed to remove manager bias regarding staff productivity. Employees were classified as “resident workers,” in the office at least 3 days per week, or “teleworkers,” in the office at least 1 day per week.

The association’s director has discovered that connectedness is the secret to the organization’s successful transition to hybrid. He reports that his staff interactions have radically increased; he and his staff have to “wander around” to find the person they need to speak with, and in the course of the search, have serendipitous conversations with a dozen other people. Staff events, like a weekly free lunch, ensure employees have frequent interactions with people outside their team bubbles.

At NOS, we’ve been promoting the value of connectedness for some time. Digitization is part of the connected-culture picture. Document conversion gives teams access to documents wherever they are. Teams stay connected whether they’re in-office or working from home. Everyone is included, and everyone’s work is optimized.

Productivity and effectiveness rely on connection, and document accessibility supports connection. If your employees are telling you they want the flexibility of a hybrid workplace, consider this association’s path: Listen to employees’ ideas, work with designers to create flexible physical space, and provide technology and opportunities that promote connectedness. Your corporate culture will change for the better.

Photo © fizkes / AdobeStock

Do Some Good With All That Extra Office Space

Do Some Good With All That Extra Office Space

For some time, we’ve been talking about the extra office space which businesses find they have after digitizing their paper documents. Digitization reduces document storage needs dramatically, at a rate of 9 square feet for each filing cabinet eliminated. That can add up pretty quickly to some real space savings that goes straight to your bottom line.

But what if your business can’t just hand back the excess space? Maybe your lease isn’t ending for some time. Maybe your building’s interior configuration doesn’t allow for easy reassignment to another tenant. What will you do with the extra space that you’re already paying for?

And if you add hybrid-workplace space savings into the equation, you may find you have even more unused space. Digitization supports hybrid operations by making digital documents securely accessible to off-site staff. A sizeable number of hybrid offices are empty on Fridays or Mondays; everyone is working from home, with access to digital document files. Again, what happens to all that unused space?

Here’s a proposal: Offer it to a community nonprofit. Chronically underfunded local and regional nonprofits need meeting places for volunteer training and activities. Their boards need a conference room. Their clients need a safe place to meet with volunteers.

If you’re working on a hybrid schedule, it’s easy to know when your conference room is available to a nonprofit. Even if you’re full-time in-office, the space your filing cabinets used to occupy can be put to good use as a volunteer meeting area after business hours or on weekends.

It’s a win for everyone. The nonprofit’s volunteers have a safe and professional meeting place. Your staff is likely to follow your lead in supporting community organizations. Your brand is reinforced by public participation in community life. And your budget potentially gets a nice boost in the form of a tax deduction. It’s one of those rare opportunities with no downside for anyone.

And in case you’re worried about having outsiders in your workplace, remember that digitizing your documents adds a level of security that you can’t get with paper documents. It protects them from prying eyes, and from falling into the wrong hands.

So bring those nonprofits into your extra office space, and make the world a better place!

 

Photo © zinkevych / AdobeStock

With RFID, You’ll Never Run Out of Ice Cream (or Anything Else)

With RFID, You’ll Never Run Out of Ice Cream (or Anything Else)

Nothing is more disappointing than opening the ice cream carton in your freezer, and discovering that someone else in your household has left you only half a teaspoon of  partially-melted soupiness in the bottom of the carton. Maybe Elsa in “Frozen” could let it go, but you can’t. The only cold things in your kitchen are your thoughts regarding the person who deprived you of the sweet joy of ice cream.

Now, thanks to a combination of RFID and robotics, you will soon have a constant supply of ice cream at your command. Technology company Robomart is deploying mobile ice cream shops – refrigerated vans paired with RFID and a smart phone app. Ice cream cravers use the app to hail the nearest mobile store, which then comes rolling up to the shopper’s door, filled with frozen treats.

Each ice cream carton has an RFID tag affixed to it. After a buyer makes their selections, the van’s doors close and an RFID reader automatically inventories the remaining containers. The buyer is billed for the products that were removed, and restocking locations are alerted that the supply of rocky road caramel swirl is running low. Purchasing statistics provide data to predictive inventory systems, to make sure a neighborhood’s favorite flavors are well-stocked.

This is just one of the innovative ways RFID has been changing the supply chain. From manufacturers all the way to consumers, RFID improves productivity and profits.

Reducing wasteRFID keeps a close eye on manufacturing inventory to ensure a constant materials supply. No time is wasted with stock-outs, and no perishable products are held beyond their use-by dates.

Reducing shrinkageRFID tracks individual items from factory to warehouse, to distribution, to retail, to consumer. Losses in any part of the chain are traceable.

Reducing customer disappointmentRFID delivers timely updates to ensure that supply meets demand, at any point in the supply chain. And if there’s a supply disruption, you know about it before it becomes a crisis.

With the current stresses on the supply chain, RFID keeps your business ahead of any bad news. You have an opportunity to proactively update your customers with any upcoming supply problems. They can adjust their operations before their productivity is affected, and their gratitude becomes your next big sale.

Imagine if the person who ate your ice cream had updated you on the personal ice cream inventory prior to the supply crisis. You might have been grateful for the heads-up, and instead of feeling cold-hearted, you would have opened that mobile ice cream store app and ordered for both of you. Customer relations and family relations are everything, and RFID is here to help.

Photo © Nebojsa / AdobeStock

 

Digitization or Digitalization? What the Difference Is, and Why It Matters

Digitization or Digitalization? What the Difference Is, and Why It Matters

Digitalization and digitization are spelled nearly identically, and they sound nearly alike. They must mean pretty much the same thing, right? Not quite. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a significant difference, and it’s one that will help you make the most of your business’s digital transformation.

Digitalization is the utilization of digital technology to reshape business processes. When a business builds a digital database of customers, or installs an RFID system to manage its physical assets, or uses robotics in a manufacturing process, it is engaged in Digitalization.

By contrast, digitization is the act of transforming an object – a document or a photo, for example – from analog (physical) format to digital format. Digitization is a component of an organization’s overall Digitalization. Just as you’d say that not all cars are Fords, but all Fords are cars, you can say that all digitization is part of Digitalization.

And of all the process transformations that Digitalization makes, digitization is one of the top two or three most valuable. Here’s why:

  • Digitization enables remote work. The explosive growth of hybrid offices and 100% remote work has been possible because workers have remote access to information contained in digital documents. Everyone can log in and get what they need to get the job done, wherever they are. Productivity is preserved and employees are happy. It’s a win for everyone.
  • Digitization improves security. Paper documents are impermanent. Fires, floods, and insects destroy them. They’re easy to damage, easy to lose, and easy to pilfer. Digitized documents, however, are access-controlled and backed up on multiple digital drives. Your business saves all the costs associated with lost documents.
  • Digitization saves storage space. File cabinets take up a lot of real estate – 9 square feet per standard cabinet, to be precise. How many does your business have? You can eliminate the cost of all that real estate, or reassign the space for more productive activities. Either way, your bottom line is the beneficiary.

Digitalization is about transforming business processes. Digitization is about transforming the information needed for processes. Now that you know the difference, talk to a digitization expert and add document digitization to your organization’s Digitalization plan.

Photo © Andrey Popov / AdobeStock