The workplace is not what it used to be. Employees do not necessarily fit traditional profiles and cannot be easily categorised. At the same time businesses are under increasing pressure to review their structures and critical operations in order to keep up with daily innovation in digital communication equipment and resources.
Clearly, the digital revolution and age of information has resulted in a renewed corporate landscape and the introduction of a new breed of information worker. These are individuals who utilise technology to achieve life/work balance and whose productivity is measured very differently to the benchmarks of the past.
Contribution to company, results, appraisal of performance are still valid components within the modern office, but the capacity of an individual to multitask and apply experience quickly to keep one step ahead of competition is what really counts.
Technology is pervasive and continues to affect the vast majority of industries, market segments and sectors. It is rare to find a company or business that has completely avoided IT and has not adopted infrastructure, systems or solutions on some level.
The extent to which solutions and product has impacted on society presents employees and employers with a choice: either to adapt accordingly or fall by the wayside. Flexibility, mobility and productivity are key underlying benefits associated with the incorporation of technology.
What we are referring to is not a license for people to indulge themselves, but rather a common understanding between employers and employees as to the productivity that can be achieved by removing or changing conventional rules and regulations.
The administration of time and attendance within the workplace is a good example. It is generally understood that official work hours are stipulated within contracts and/or job descriptions. Depending on the type of position, these are usually fixed according to labour law and the core business of the company.
The growth of the mobile infrastructure and product market, incorporating notebooks, laptops, PDAs, cellular technology and more, has influenced this particular area immensely and it is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be.
Many businesses now find that staff are in a position to fulfill their responsibilities remotely and in accordance with their own schedules.
The rationale is if productivity is increased due to this flexibility, then it is a worthwhile investment and should be encouraged.
Decision makers within innovative businesses are capitalising off new technology and infrastructure to get more out of the individual.
Skills development and training is a significant aspect of the process of people development within business today. Training exposes the individual to critical processes and procedures, an increase in product/solution and service knowledge and much more.
Businesses and organisations are also proactive in making technology and equipment more accessible. Staff have greater access to essential business tools such as the Internet, intranet, client databases,
netstreaming and customer relationship management solutions.
The idea is to cultivate a more interactive, immediate and effective level of client service. Consultants can invoice directly online from a client's site, customer queries can be tracked and managed quickly, issues and challenges can be handled in realtime. All of this is designed to ensure that employees are disciplined in their service to customers and that they have a complete overview of what critical business requirements there are.
Ultimately success within any professional environment - irrespective of the extent to which technology influences processes and procedures – is dependent on discipline, service, and adherence to contractual obligations.
Does a fully digital environment suit all businesses, across all industries, at all times? Not as yet. Will it emerge as a recognised, certain element of any-sized business? Eventually... yes.
Does it have a role to play in the development of the modern business and/or organisation? Most definitely!