Skype for Business and the Workplace of 2016

The whole concept of the corporate office and the 9-5 working pattern has adapted almost unrecognisably in the past decade. So much so, in fact, that it will be a tough task explaining to Generation Z that we didn’t always start at 10am, that we didn’t always work from wherever the nearest Wi-Fi connection was, and that video collaboration was not something that every business did. Here, we look at how the workplace has changed and how the adoption of Skype for Business, among other web-based communication advancements, has developed employees’ ability to work together.

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Companies now consider the work/life balance and the atmosphere the millennial worker desires as priorities, something that ten years ago may have been considered as a somewhat holistic approach to improving productivity. The physical office itself has also changed dramatically, perhaps thanks to Silicon Valley’s powerhouses promoting the relaxed, modern and highly youthful set up of their offices. Google, for example, have frequently publicised their office perks, including sleep pods, on-site fitness centres, and even doggy day care.

But what inspired this vast change in office atmosphere? The answer lies most probably in the nature of the work day and a re-evaluation of the care and attention given to employees and how they are most comfortable working.

Communication and the Office Evolution

The upheaval of office design has become more noticeable in the past decade, as business leaders open their minds to the power of productivity through comfort. Allowing employees to work and communicate both in a comfortable environment and through an interface they find engaging and familiar. This is where Skype for Business fits in. We have previously written about how Skype for Business changed the way in which we communicate personally, but how has it changed our work day?

Enterprise businesses have become more aware that their passion for providing a great environment to encourage productivity is only worth it should they also be given the best tools to collaborate with one another. The life arc of Skype for Business runs almost parallel to the changes in the office. Skype for Business’ previous incarnation, Microsoft Lync, could easily represent the office of the early noughties; functional but without the flair needed to both inspire existing workers and draw in the excitable new breed of tech-savvy millennials.

Skype for Business, however, represents the new office. Amalgamating the previous functionality of Lync with the familiarity of the personal Skype interface gave the concept of work-based video conferencing an exciting new edge. Creating an agreeable environment in which employees are given a reward or perk as a daily occurrence encourages passion for productivity. Similarly, offering an interface akin to the one they are used to outside work can make work feel less like work and more like meaningful collaboration.

Integration and Flexibility

Modern office huddle spaceSkype for Business integrates deeply with Microsoft Office, which gives employees a one-stop shop environment for organising meetings and real-time collaboration. With the option to broadcast to hundreds of people, with dynamic playback, and schedule meetings through Outlook, Skype for Business is an ideal platform for home workers.  The huge shift in where people work is another reason video conferencing, whether via Skype for Business or another platform, has become a highly adopted medium. Statistics from the Trade Union Centre state that over four million people in the UK currently work from home, a statistic that may have led people to think we are moving further away in terms of collaboration. However, it is the simple video conferencing available on any device and the familiar Skype for Business infrastructure that may have led to the pick up in home and flexible working. Four million people are now able to keep in touch with their bricks and mortar office location without detriment to their workflow and productivity levels.

What Led to the Change?

Whether the office has changed because of the worker, or the worker has changed in response to the work/life allowances that have been made, is inconsequential. The benefits of utilising a platform like Skype for Business is that is makes collaboration organic, rather than forced. Previous workplace communication took place textually, which is a medium open for misinterpretation and latency. Even during the days when Skype for Business was a distant dream, text-based collaboration led to a whole host of problems for which there was no direct answer. Instant messaging and, to a lesser extent, telephone collaboration lacked the sense of camaraderie. It was a challenge to read people’s emotions and the sense of understanding gleaned through facial expressions and mannerisms did not exist.

This is where the question of whether necessity bred creation or vice versa becomes clearer. Yes, there was a need to update and modernise the way businesses communicated internally, but what about communicating with other people outside an organisation? In the early noughties, a great deal of global correspondence was either done via email or through travelling to meet face-to-face. Now, the entire world of work has changed and, as such, so has our willingness to embrace ever more advanced ways of communicating. They to aligning the workplace of 2016 and the technology is through encouraging adoption through recognisable infrastructures, engaging office environments and the perks of the employee knowing their employer is willing to adapt to suit them. Was it the office that prompted the need for Skype for Business or did Skype for Business prompt the surge in the new office dynamic? Perhaps the coincidental collaboration of these two elements created the environment for an entirely more purposeful means of collaborating.

If you would like to know more about why how to get the most from Skype for Business, subsribe to our blog to be informed of the next part of the series.

Our whitepaper, “Implementing Skype for Business”, offers a valuable insight into the need-to-know aspects of integrating Skype for Business into your workflow – download it for free here.

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