By Rikus Jansen, Head of EOH Voice and Unified Communications
Today I’m going to depart from my usual sort of topic and look at something completely different. By necessity we tend to focus on the immediate work in front of us on any given day, and forget the broader context in which we live and work. So I want to look at ways in which we can not only work more effectively, but get more satisfaction out of what we do, across the board.
Understand the tools
This may seem a bit obvious – of course people have to understand the tools with which they work – but if we look at bit deeper we find something that occurs in all spheres of our lives. We have so much technology at our disposal that we most of us fall into the pattern of only using specific aspects of a given technology that solve an immediate problem, without delving deeper into all the other things that the technology can do. For instance, how many of us use all the functionality on our smartphones?
Yet we find that when we start to embrace our technologies and tools at a deeper level, we uncover all kinds of new capabilities that help us to be more efficient, which in turn lowers stress levels and brings self-satisfaction.
This is particularly important in the business environment. While we can seemingly afford to constantly buy technology that we don’t use to its full capabilities in our personal lives, it can be financially disastrous for an organisation. It’s well-known that this is one of the areas of inefficiency that businesses need to address: how to get more ROI from their technology investment. Understanding the tools better will go a long way towards achieving this.
Remember the human element
We’ve made much progress in recognising and accommodating the fact that people work most efficiently when their personal needs are recognised. However, we still need to constantly strive to address the human element in the workplace. For one blindingly obvious reason: people who are happier in their jobs perform better.
This is about far more than the official HR-led initiatives in a company. It needs to permeate all workplace interactions. No matter how significant or otherwise someone’s role in an organisation, it’s important to recognise and treat everyone as independent, able, trustworthy and respectable people.
This also has to be consistent. It doesn’t ring true when a teambuilding event is followed the next day by an insistence from management that everyone work late regardless of their personal needs. To get the best out of their staff, senior officials in organisations need to understand that the work their employees do for them fits into their overall lives – not the other way round.
Skills versus location
One of the most important things for a modern business to recognise is that the availability of skills is more important than the location of those skills. This change in mind-set has been fostered largely by developments in communication and collaboration technology, particularly the maturation of unified communications into a key business system.
The ability to collaborate efficiently in real time regardless of location means that the basic work model is changing. People will increasingly no longer go to work; instead, work will go to where the skills are.
Re-engineer how teams collaborate
Companies wishing to adapt to this change in the skills-location equation will need to spend some time changing processes and accessing technologies, to outfit themselves properly for this new world of work.
It involves more than installing a UC system, for example. What it requires is that internal processes are thoroughly examined to determine what will be the most productive ways of remodelling team communications and collaboration. New protocols must be developed, new ways of time-cost accounting perhaps need to be implemented… there are many aspects to a successful overhaul.
Rikus Jansen is a Unified Communications specialist. He entered the South African technology space in the late 1980s, pioneering 3D animation and video effects in the broadcasting industry. This led to a career in corporate ICT outsourcing. He co-founded Ensync Voice Solutions, a unified communications company. After merging the Ensync companies with the JSE-listed ICT provider, EOH, he now heads up the EOH Voice and Unified Communications business, which is one of the leading communication providers in South Africa.