Why the modern workplace needs to be more human

TORONTO – Say goodbye to the corner office as a status symbol and that picture of your children on your desk. The workplace of the future is open and unassigned, with your work following you wherever you need to go.

That’s the vision that Citrix Systems pitches Thursday at its Mobility Summit road show in Toronto. Citrix creates virtualization and remote access solutions that can enable this mobile, flexible workplace vision and Michael Murphy, vice-president and country manager for Citrix Canada, urged attendees think beyond the device.

“It’s about the mobility of data, and the intellectual property of the business. When we talk about mobility we often focus on the device, but today it’s about being productive on any device, through secure apps and secure data,” said Murphy. “If I just swap a device for one that’s mobile I haven’t really achieved anything. For mobility to be a game changer, productivity needs to be at the centre of what’s important.”

Mobility is at the forefront of what Citrix sees as the modern style of work and the modern workplace said Michael McKiernan, vice-president of business technology with Citrix. The first major element of the new workplace is around design.

The new workplace is flexible and open. No more cube farms with line of sight supervision and centralized teams. No more assigned workspaces and aspiring to the corner office. Instead, open concept with flex work stations anyone can use and lots of space for collaboration. And it’s all fueled by mobility – team members could be at home, or in another office across the country or around the world.

McKiernan said this isn’t a future concept. It’s already the reality at Citrix – he hasn’t had a physical assigned workspace for four years.

“The idea of going to a physical location is good; it’s where I meet people and get stuff done,” said McKiernan. “But to be constrained to that physical workspace is wrong.”

According to McKiernan, Citrix sees three components to this workspace transformation: real estate and workflow, technology with follow-me data, printing and apps, and the people element.

“The real estate and the technology has matured sufficiently. The people element is the hardest to manage,” said McKiernan. “That corner office status symbol no longer exists, but now we can repurpose the space for whatever we want – we can bring in the kids for a Halloween party.”

The modern office has three kinds of space: space for me, space for you and me, and spaces for us, like community meeting spaces for large groups. People need to get used to the idea of not having family photos on their desk – because it’s not their desk anymore. There’s also less privacy, but more opportunities for collaboration.  Since the Citrix IT department did away with assigned office space, McKiernan said 91 per cent of employees reported improved morale and 43 per cent reported improved productivity.

The Citrix angle is the technology that allows a worker to drop into any workstation with any device, get their desktop and get to work. They can also take their work with them wherever they go, whether it’s at home or on the road.

Citrix is making the shift in Canada as well, and Murphy said it requires new skills of both workers and managers. Workers need to be trusted to fulfill their commitments and get their work done, and managers need to learn to manage based on output instead of seeing the person working, and mentoring when they may not always be physically present.

“For managers, it’s a shift in mindset and attitude that they can, with the right skills and training, manage, guide, direct and mentor their team whether or not they see them every day,” said Murphy. “They need to trust they’re doing their job and delivering on their goals. HR may need to help them develop new skills.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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