Creating a Digitally Inclusive Workplace – Part 1

Creating a Digitally Inclusive Workplace – Part 1

Interview with a Workplace and Real Estate Strategist

The modern workplace looks significantly different from just a short time ago. It’s changed forever. And it continues to evolve after the rapid transformation generated by the pandemic.

In the past, references have been made to “the digital divide,” referring to the gap of who are to benefit from the Digital Age and those who are not. Now, however, with employees working in the office, remotely, and often in between spaces, we’re seeing digitization as the great connector. It’s the sinew, tissue, synaptic bridge that keeps humans connected no matter where they are or how they work.

To make sure digitization doesn’t divide us, we need to ensure workplaces are digitally inclusive. What does that mean? What needs to be done to make it successful?

We talked to one of our trusted experts on this evolving topic, Cisco Workplace and Real Estate Strategist John Corbett. We dig into how offices need to change for a new world of work. In the process, we revealed how Cisco creates an immersive experience that brings equality to the playing field for all employees. Regardless of who they are or where, when, or how they work.

Hybrid workplace challenges

“We’re starting to notice that working from home has become the norm, and going into the office is extraordinary,” said John.

He shared further observations about this, saying “Digital environments are frictionless—the transition between activities and engagement is smooth. By comparison, the office of old was rather clunky. The traditional office is architected to be fixed and time bound and thus dynamically opposed to digital workflows. The office of now and into the future needs to catch up, and we need to be smart at how we go about that.”

If the traditional office is ‘clunky’, how do we align the new workplace with the ‘frictionless’ digital environment we need and have become accustomed to?

John called our attention to the time when nations issued stay at home orders and offices closed their physical spaces. For example, look at what we’re doing seamlessly and quickly online. And then explore how we can replicate that speed and seamless efficiency in the office.

“We’ve become very attracted to working in a dynamic digital-only environment. Meeting with 10 people online is easy, but traditionally, at the office, it is complicated. So let’s make connecting the office, to the people in the office and the people outside the office, easy, on-demand and seamless,” advises John. “Let’s get the office to become an active contributor to our continuously evolving and transitioning workflow, rather than having to slow down workflow in response to the time bound, fixed nature of the office. Why should we have to book a room to meet with someone? Do we book a laptop at home when we meet with someone? No. So the office should not be any different in our ability to seamlessly connect with other people or resources.”

This has been the focus at Cisco—seamless transitions and ensuring the built environment supports all types of interactions.

What does this look like in motion?

“Say I want to have a video conversation with two of my colleagues. One is with me in the office and the other is remote. Traditionally, I would have to book a room to do that, and in doing so I would roll around in Outlook in order to do that. If we decided to have this meeting on-demand, I might hop into a room and then connect my laptop with a cable, or dial in and enter passwords, etc. What if I could just walk into the room, click the green button on my laptop to start my meeting like I usually would from home, and the equipment in the room automatically connected with me? What if it was fully automated, without touching a thing?”

“My environment should work for me, connecting to me, not me having to put all this effort into connecting to it,” says John. “This is similar to you navigating across a digital workflow on your laptop. All the applications on your laptop know it’s you. You don’t have to tell them, and those software applications intuitively respond to your demands. The office workflow experience should be no different.”

What’s another key challenge of the hybrid work environment? Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out and get more expert insights on digitally inclusive workplaces from our Cisco Workplace and Real Estate Strategist John Corbett.

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