Agile working

Digital Maturity and Flexibility are Key to Finding the Right Hybrid Working Model

Home working is becoming a necessity for many companies that are now refining their operations in order to grow and evolve over time.

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and that has never been truer than it is now as we mark the two-year anniversary of the first pandemic restrictions in the UK. As the dust (hopefully) begins to settle on the post-pandemic landscape there is a lot of debate about the future role of office-based working - whether we should return to it or embrace a paradigm shift to remote working. In my opinion it’s not as black and white as that, instead we should be looking at the importance of social interactions and the role they play in enabling businesses to grow and evolve.

Digging in

I will put my hands up and say that I didn’t see anything like a global pandemic coming - I think anyone who says they did is either blessed with the gift of foresight or they are being rather economical with the truth. The reality is even if we had a plan, as a military commander will tell you, most plans don't survive first contact with the enemy.

In the case of Konica Minolta, as an IT service provider it was relatively easy for us to fix the IT challenges that faced a lot of people working from home. However, the biggest challenge for us was going through all that working transformation on an unparalleled scale. For instance, most people we on-boarded during the pandemic had never met or worked with each other, including our management board (most of which changed during that time). As it turned out, the state of flux continued and increased through the pandemic as opposed to tailing off.

Despite the challenges, we have always recognised that in terms of the way we work, the only way is forwards. Our challenge now is how we help our customers to quickly adapt to changing conditions to both survive and thrive. We have reached a stage now where we need to move on from the pandemic and decide how the working landscape will look from now on.

The way you work

Undoubtedly hybrid and agile-choice working are here to stay for many sectors, save perhaps a few well publicised financial institutions where they're mandating employees must go back to the office. When home working became a necessity, Konica Minolta was fortunate enough to have already adopted a largely hybrid work approach, however it has focused and refined our approach on maintaining three crucial areas to sustain this: operations, security, and productivity.

Clearly there is a significant difference between offering home working as a part-time option and it being enforced on your entire team on an ongoing basis due to external circumstances. In sectors where it wasn’t even considered before it has been even more of a culture shock, in many ways changing the collective mindset of what is possible. For instance, I have NHS Consultant friends who have realised they can be more productive with their clinics by using Microsoft Teams to rapidly move from one appointment to the next. Like many of us, they have also enjoyed the improvement in their work/life balance too.

Being social

The work/life balance benefits of working from home can be quite profound and for many of us it has really changed our relationships with our office space. Despite this, there is also a need to manage people's mental and physical health. The workplace is where professional and social relationships are forged and ideas are shared, as people physically work near their team. Office ‘banter’ can easily include work-related chat just as much as discussions about football results or the previous night’s television.

The numerous lockdowns have also highlighted the suitability of people’s homes for working. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a suitable home office, with some remote workers having to utilise the same space for working as their personal lives – making it harder to disconnect the two. Home life can raise distractions during work time and vice versa.

Ironically hybrid working can also cause a divide amongst your workforce if it’s not carefully managed. With some people in the office and others choosing to work remotely, or are self-isolating, or in quarantine due to infection, it is essential to ensure they can all still work as a cohesive team. Whatever the physical location, everyone needs the same opportunities but also the same work-ethic as everyone else.

Overcoming obstacles

The businesses that really struggled to cope when the pandemic arrived were those that had made no progress towards the digitisation of their operations beforehand. Without the right data tools in place, hybrid working is at best highly impractical. However, if there is one bonus to come out of the pandemic chaos, it is the acceleration of business Digital Maturity that would have happened anyway.

We recently commissioned Keypoint Intelligence to conduct the ‘European Digital Transformation Analysis’ survey. The UK results highlighted Remote Working as a primary business challenge for organisations, with 55% highlighting Digital Transformation their top priority. To help businesses understand exactly where they are on this journey, we recently launched the Konica Minolta DX360° Assessment, a free and highly insightful tool which gives an unbiased but professional bespoke assessment of business Digital Maturity.  

Another big challenge is that it’s hard for many businesses to suddenly change their entire operating model. With the business real estate model built around long-term leases of 10,15, even 20 years at a time, many organisations are locked into properties that they no longer need, and often are not fit for purpose.

I think the key with hybrid working is to offer choice to people and then allow them to make that choice themselves. This is our approach at Konica Minolta, and we are also helping our customers to also ensure their teams collaborate better. When your information systems are always updated and available to your team wherever they work, it is much easier to ensure everyone is fully engaged in your business success.

About the author

Mark Ash

Mark Ash is the Chief Revenue Officer at Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd. Mark has been a key ambassador in driving Konica Minolta’s own digital transformation journey. His commitment is to ensure Konica Minolta and his teams provide excellent services and tools to customers to help them transform their businesses and rebuild their organisation to be stronger than ever before.  


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