FIRA Barcelona, Gran Vía
1-4 February 2022

RISE Spotlight: Workspace EvolutionReporter Roundtable

Creating a Culture of Tech and Innovation

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a shift to remote working.  The RISE Spotlight Reporter Roundtable – moderated by Már Másson Maack, Editor of Growth Quarters, TNW – discussed the challenges of creating a culture of technology and innovation whilst navigating the remote working landscape.

Remote working has been accelerated by the effects of the global pandemic, but many of the technologies, trends and work practices that will revolutionise the workplace were already in existence – or were in the process of being brought to market. The wide adoption of such technologies now presents great opportunities, but organisations still have to work hard to make it happen successfully.

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“A lot of preconceptions about working from home have been invalidated during the crisis,” stated Marit Janssen, Tranformation Consultant, ABN AMRO. Remote working has proved to be a triumph for UC technology, and with benefits including improved work/life balance and less commuting, it looks like flexible working is here to stay.

When it comes to helping businesses build an environment to survive and indeed prosper, there are some issues that technology can certainly deliver. Teams will need to balance productivity, performance, tech and culture to sustain innovation. “We’re not born collaborators; we need to learn these skills and use the best tools for the task. The huge move to the digital environment has meant this is even more important today,” commented Nancy Knowlton, President and CEO of Nureva.

Jon Sidwick, President of Collabtech Group, added: “Technology upgrades need to emulate the experience of an office and remote workers need the right equipment. In the future we’ll see tech upgrades replacing car allowances.”

The consensus was that companies must empower employees to work well remotely, providing the tools – and trust – they need. Investment in technology and training is key, as are strategies for implementing a remote working infrastructure which supports wide collaborative workspaces – at home and in other destinations, such as coffee shops, hotels and even pubs.

The panel explored the market trends and innovations that could impact this transition. A big challenge is keeping remote teams motivated and inspiring ‘team-spirit’. Marit explained: “Technology will need to recreate the random office encounters which occur naturally in a shared workplace.”

So, could this be the end of the office as we know it? The panel agreed that face-to-face interactions and human connections contribute to a happy workforce. The future could be a hybrid approach, as people alternate between virtual and physical.

John Egan, CEO of L’Atelier BNP Paribas, noted that the bookcase backdrop had become the new ‘business suit’ and concluded that we may be on the precipice of a decade of change: “There is a lot of intersectionality occurring at once and it is difficult to think in a linear way – I think it is likely that we will see significant technological and sociocultural change and an environmental shift occur all at the one time.”

He continued: “We are beginning to see that total divorce from the office space and the power centre can also mean divorce from the politics and the power that goes with promotion and advancement and success in the future, and so there is a trade-off there that people have to keep in mind. ”