On May 14, Beau Wilder of Poly will be the keynote speaker at AVI-SPL’s TechSpark event in Cleveland. During this evening event, attendees will learn from digital workplace experts and technology providers about how they can shift their organizations toward the future of work. Wilder is the VP of innovation waves and new products for Poly. In the Q&A below, I spoke with Wilder about creating a workplace that enables people to be their best. He also offers a preview of his keynote talk at Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Q: Why is workplace transformation so important?
Wilder: We’re all in this war for talent. The companies winning are the ones recognizing that their most important assets are their people.
We can work anywhere, anytime on any device using UCC technology. Those solutions have allowed work policies to be flexible, so we need spaces where we can make best use of that technology and its capabilities. If you don’t provide those spaces, people will vote with their feet and move on to a better situation.
Q: Considering the ability for people to work from anywhere, how important is the workplace?
Wilder: Even though research shows people are more productive at home, most choose to go back to work because they miss the collaboration. We want people to work together and feel empowered when they’re in the office. It’s that cross-pollination where new thinking happens. We’re always looking for the next big idea, and so we need to make it easier for people in the workplace to work together.
Q: How did the open office take hold as the new template for the workplace?
Wilder: We thrive as humans when we’re outdoors. The open office offers flexibility in creating an environment that mirrors the one outside. In these spaces, we’ve seen huge trends with health and wellness. Biophilic design that includes natural light and greenery sets people up to be their best. When people are happier and healthier, you have more productivity and creative output. But the open office comes with its own set of challenges.
Q: What are some of those challenges?
Wilder: Although companies have raced to open offices, some didn’t do it thoughtfully. It can be hard to work while people are collaborating near you. Therefore, we need to focus on a human-centric design in the office so we can be at our best by using technology that blends distracting speech into the background.
Q: What are the solutions for these challenges?
Wilder: Do your homework ahead of time and bring in your vendor partners early. You’ll also want to include your users in the journey toward workplace transformation. Focus on the human experience above the cost-savings. Collaboration in meeting spaces should be intuitive and easy. When you design for open spaces, consider the activity that will be happening and build in choice that allows for a personalized experience.
Q: What’s a realistic expectation for companies that want to transform their workplaces?
Wilder: Ask targeted questions of your staff. Find out where things aren’t working. As you design open spaces, let the technology do the heavy lifting. During my talk at TechSpark, I’ll go further into change management, what it can look like and how to approach it. I’ll also look at the science behind distraction-free open spaces and how they lead to success.
This process continues even after you’ve made the transformation. Understand that you won’t get your building right from day one. But by collecting data like occupancy and use of technology, you can be proactive in refining it.
To hear Beau Wilder speak in person on the benefits and challenges of open offices, register for AVI-SPL’s May 13 TechSpark in Cleveland.