Getting Personal:  New Ways of Working

In my discussions with customers, many of them from global enterprises, I am hearing a lot of similarities in the challenges facing businesses today. And many of these challenges involve better management of information processes.

A Harris Poll sponsored by Ricoh earlier this year showed that 67% of people working in offices are dissatisfied about something in their current work situation—and the top issue is the inability to get information when they need it1.

The image that automatically springs to my mind is the desk-bound employee dependant on a networked PC, or shuffling through a stack of paperwork trying to find the right information critical to doing his or her job.

It became very clear to me that while innovative use of technology such as the cloud, or mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, are certainly important to helping improve productivity, it is really the flow of information and how employees access and use that information that will make all the difference.

Fostering real productivity gains and most importantly, increasing customer value by transforming business processes not only can free employees to choose when and where they work, but how they approach business problems and implement solutions.

It has been my experience working with customers from across the globe that successful process improvements provide more than technological flexibility in where and when to work. They have also helped provide the right, accurate information, at the right time, so employees can answer customer inquiries faster, close more sales, and turn every customer interaction into an opportunity. This will also require more autonomy in how to solve business problems, and more personal ownership.

In my opinion, more personal ownership for better business outcomes is a positive. We all can be annoyed when we struggle to get the information we need in executing a task—but the more we own the outcome on a personal level, the more frustrating the lack of information (or out-of-date or downright inaccurate information) becomes.

In a previous blog, I spoke about the importance of adaptability of business processes; sticking with the traditional ways that people work just may not be productive. I believe personal ownership can help drive providing employees with fast access to the right information in the right format at the right time.

To continue to increase customer value and remain competitive, we need to retain and empower our best talent, not frustrate and alienate them. If the trend in workstyles is indeed toward more personal investment, the incentive to improve our processes is only going to increase.

1 This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Ricoh from October 3-5, 2012, among 2,512 adults ages 18 and older.

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