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How to maintain, accelerate productivity in a hybrid workspace

Historically, the phrase ‘office workers’ has been a shorthand not just for where people were working, but the type of work they were doing – information-based and, over the last two decades, performed on computers.

In recent years, the concept of office working has evolved again. Instead of being tied to one location, organisations are increasingly allowing employees to work anywhere, provided that they are still productive.

Many of our customers are moving towards this hybrid working model long-term, combining several types of workspace: from a central or satellite company hub, to employees’ homes, to shared co-working spaces, to the train carriage or departure lounge while travelling.

As hybrid work becomes increasingly common, the question on IT leaders’ lips is evolving from how to enable work outside the office, to how to optimise it to make it as productive as it can be.

Below, we explore four frequently asked questions from organisations looking to maintain and accelerate productivity in a hybrid working environment, and explain how Canon can help address them.

Many of our departments still rely on paper in their everyday workflows. Will that make it difficult to adapt to a hybrid model?

It’s common for companies to be dependent on paper documents; this doesn’t make it impossible to move to a hybrid working model, but it can make it more complex.

Shifting to a digital-only model isn’t necessary immediately, but it’s crucial to optimise dependence on printing over time. Doing so will not only make it easier for your teams to work from other locations, but also lead to lower costs – both financial and environmental.

At Canon, our expertise is in managing and integrating complex document workflows that combine paper and digital processes. We understand that most organisations are on a journey towards digitisation, and we can support you on it. Regardless of the unique balance in your organisation, we can provide tailored support with adapting to a hybrid model.

How can we make sure that teams who use paper-based workflows can still work efficiently in a distributed team?

While there may still be a need to have a certain number of employees in a central location at specific times, no employee should be confined because of their need to print or scan.

At Canon, we offer hardware designed for every type of workspace, including desktop-sized devices for home working and powerful multifunctional ones made for busy offices. Our devices come with inbuilt connectivity that allows teams to access the documents they need, even from outside the office.

For example, with our imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX C5800 Series, documents can be scanned straight to cloud storage destinations such as OneDrive and Dropbox, or into existing workflow applications. They can also be automatically stored or categorised by machine learning software, making it easy for teams to share paperwork and continue workflows across locations while reducing manual errors.

Thanks to compatibility with mobile applications such as Canon’s Print Business and uniFLOW Online Print & Scan, employees can even send documents to print or receive digitised documents to their mobile while on the go, ensuring that they can still get work done efficiently, wherever they are.

We team our hardware with an extensive suite of software that’s been designed to work seamlessly with our devices. Solutions such as Cloud Workspace Collaboration – Process Automation provide the perfect document management and collaboration service for a hybrid business. It’s a cloud-based ‘location agnostic’ platform that enables employees to locate, securely access and process documents instantly, from anywhere.

We know that process automation can support employee productivity, but have to keep budget in mind. What automation applications should we prioritise to support a distributed workforce?

Firstly, consider what pain points will be introduced to your workflows if they are taken offsite. Process automation is a really useful tool for taking over or augmenting repetitive, structured tasks. If you put that in the context of a hybrid workforce, your focus should be on automating repetitive tasks that usually have to be managed by teams in-person.

Canon has a wealth of experience in helping organisations manage these processes. Our technologies help take the burden off employees, so that workflows can progress efficiently while they spend their time on more valuable tasks.

Canon manages and integrates complex document workflows that combine paper and digital processes.
Canon manages and integrates complex document workflows that combine paper and digital processes.

Our Cloud Workspace Collaboration – Process Automation service provides preconfigured and automated workflows for common business applications such as contract management and invoice processing. Organisations buying our devices can instantly activate digital workflows straight from them, helping to keep business progressing efficiently across locations.

Moving to a hybrid working model involves a lot of additional complexity for our IT team. How can we avoid being overwhelmed with additional work?

Managing IT across a hybrid working environment is not simple; there are many aspects to consider, from ensuring teams can access their data and documents, to preventing new security vulnerabilities.

To make hybrid working as effective as possible, it’s important to take a holistic view of your IT estate. While your organisation may be operating across several locations, they are not independent from one another; your teams need to communicate and connect across them seamlessly. Adopting a piecemeal approach to IT that cobbles together tools and solutions can cause disjointed workflows and integration headaches, resulting in further delays and complexities.

With this in mind, it’s not just about providing technology; it’s about providing technology that works seamlessly together and across locations. This is something that we’ve put at the heart of our Digital Transformation Services: an ecosystem of hardware, software and services designed to support effective working from anywhere. These tried-and-tested technologies are designed to work together, reducing complications and downtime for workers and the IT team.

We also know that managing a device fleet is a headache at the best of times, but can be particularly difficult when the devices aren’t even on the company premises. uniFLOW Online, our cloud-based software, provides a single platform to connect all working locations. Through this platform, you can centrally manage your fleet, no matter where devices are located, from user security permissions, to monitoring print usage, all from wherever you are working.

Planning for productivity

Productivity is tightly tied to an organisation’s bottom line and is therefore high on every leader’s list of priorities. Many organisations will be concerned about the impact that disrupting their traditional operating model will have on their employees’ productivity levels.

But with the right partner, and the right ecosystem in place, hybrid working doesn’t just allow you to maintain ‘business as usual’. Rather, it provides the opportunity to rethink and optimise existing workflows to accelerate productivity.

Meanwhile, investing in the right foundation of technologies doesn’t just help you improve hybrid working in the here and now. It’s important to see your organisation’s future as an opportunity for ongoing optimisation. This foundation helps IT teams to prepare their organisation for change, making it easier to evolve and optimise in future.

Learn more.

* Article first published on www.itweb.co.za

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