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Smart working - why businesses need to become more flexible

As businesses strive for sharper service, lower costs and higher motivation, the competition for the brightest and best staff can be intense. Agile businesses can drive efficiencies, raise their profile and be better placed to power through a global crisis, but only if they have the right tools. Smart working is the future, but as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic shows, it’s one that businesses need to embrace today.

By: Lydia Bird

As customers and employees, our familiarity with devices and data is driving a fundamental shift in the way the world works. For employers, the concept of digital transformation challenges rigid models of the workplace and employees’ place within it. And, as people realise they can work anywhere, increasing numbers of us want to.

By supporting smart working, employers can drive efficiency, for example by saving on CapEx costs such as office space and equipment. Furthermore, by freeing employees from their desks, businesses can reap the benefits of greater freedom, innovation and agility.

But alongside freedom from the office, smart workers need the support to perform in their roles. Execs need channels through which they can reach and inspire workers, while managers need the tools to lead, coordinate and collaborate with their teams. Smart work requires smart platforms.

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Smart working is the future we need today

For many employees the ability to work from home, co-working spaces, coffee shops – or anywhere there’s an internet connection – is a key part of balancing work and life, and getting the most out of each. In a worldwide, 2019 survey, a staggering 99% of the 2,500 respondents said they’d like to work remotely at least some of the time.

However, remote working isn’t just about staying away from the office. Decoupling work from a specific place, time and device lets employees find working patterns that suit them and their lifestyle, helping them deliver their best. In a competitive recruitment landscape, multiple surveys show that offering remote working is key to attracting and retaining the best staff.

There are other benefits for businesses. With fewer employees on site, offices are smaller and cheaper to run. Staff can be more highly motivated and more productive. The business has more agility, and greater ability to flex with a changing world. And as the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis shows, changes can be sudden, unprecedented, and even existential.

Leading from the top

Yet smart working doesn’t just mean giving employees a free pass to the coffee shop. With less focus on a central workplace and time, the organisation’s identity and culture can become diluted. Without dynamic leadership, there’s a danger that remote workers can disengage from the business.

As the workplace changes, companies need to lead that change. Rather than smart working being a concession to employees, it should form the basis of our modern working relationships. From the very top there needs to be a clear vision for the importance of smart working within the organisation – and a plan to make its success a reality.

In the modern workplace, executives should be the exemplars of company culture. They should lead and inspire with their own passions and achievements. Creating an innovative business means championing the technologies of a smarter workplace. It means effective communication and knowledge-sharing throughout the organisation.

Extending the platform

However, when the business is agile and its employees distributed between territories, time zones and locations, keeping employees engaged becomes more important and challenging than ever. Rather than micromanaging, or locking smart workers down with restrictive policies, businesses need a vision. And, crucially, they need a platform through which they can communicate this vision and inspire staff to perform. Workers need essential data and systems, of course, but they also need ready access to their peers and managers. And they need to feel they’re part of something with a bigger purpose.

Years of experience with BYOD and remote workers means that many businesses are already set up to support secure remote access to their systems. However, as the workforce becomes more flexible and the office less of a focus, firms need to invest in technology that extends company culture and identity beyond the office car park.

Hubs like Slack, and today’s cloud-based office suites, go some of the way to keep employees connected, but there’s a limit to how involved you can get with text on the page. Organisations that want to lead and inspire their staff need to communicate through formats that convey their passion and purpose. In this regard, video is ideal.

The importance of digital asset management

Many businesses already use video to communicate the company vision to offices and workers around the globe. Cimpress, an Imagen client, relies on internal videos to connect and inspire 6,500 employees based in 40 locations worldwide. In this example the content ranges from business presentations and product demonstrations through to CEO messages and showcases of company achievements.

Success with video depends on the ability to host, organise and distribute it securely among internal stakeholders – wherever they’re working. For this, a digital asset management (DAM) platform like Imagen becomes an essential tool. Where distributed teams produce regional content, a DAM helps break down territorial barriers. Imagen, for example, helps the BBC Media Action charity share crucial learnings between teams working in different countries.

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Cloud technology – rising above the disruption

Video can be a critical tool in connecting distributed teams and workers, but for some organisations it’s the product they’re working on. For broadcasters, studios, marketing teams and everyone else who works with video and other rich media, sharing and managing content among distributed employees presents a major challenge.

Again, a DAM is an essential tool, designed specifically to address common video production, storage and search requirements. With a cloud-based DAM, businesses can continue coordinated and collaborative work across small or large video projects even during times of great disruption. Multiple edits and formats of large video files can be uploaded, managed and distributed quickly and securely by employees and collaborators, wherever they are.

We live in uncertain times. Adding to the demands of digital transformation, fast-changing events can pose immediate challenges for businesses as they seek to recruit, retain and support their staff. Smart working isn’t just a recruitment tool or a pillar of business continuity – it’s an essential component in building a business and a workplace fit for the lifestyles and challenges of the 21st Century.

Discover how Imagen’s digital asset management platform can help your business to embrace smarter working. Stand out as an employer of choice in an increasingly location-agnostic landscape

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