Today is September 17, 2020. For companies who mirror fiscal and calendar year, that means it is budget season. Analytical thinking abounds. This year, empathetic thinking will permeate the discussion. Employee engagement, workflow, productivity, assistive technology, hardware continuity, centralized platforms, and perhaps most importantly, safety. Information security, compliance, and confidentiality will be at the forefront of each of these discussions and decisions. As I mentioned in August, this is the rise of the Chief Workplace Officer, and this is the time to account for it.
In search of leadership thought, I turned to Law. I found it in Managed Legal Services.
Orion Growth was on the leading edge of the first digital movement in e-Discovery (EDRM). During and after the Great Recession, we conceptualized, designed, and delivered nearly 450,000 SF of document review space in North America. We helped transform a mechanical, human process into a digital workflow by providing a space imagined from the screen back. We provided thought leadership and the most valuable resource of the 21st Century, ideas.
Well folks, it’s happening again.
This week, Mark Cohen wrote a piece in Forbes that highlights how COVID is transforming the Legal industry. Specifically mentioning UnitedLex and Axiom, two firms Orion has worked with, Cohen acknowledges digital transformation has been a C-suite priority for some time. Perhaps the most important part of Mr. Cohen’s piece is his notion of ‘Digital Maturity’ as the waypoint along the digital journey:
“The digital journey—and it is a journey—involves deploying more efficient technological tools; agile, fluid, multidisciplinary, up-skilled, empowered and engaged workforces; data; and smarter workflows that streamline delivery and enhance customer outcomes and experience. Digitally mature companies build a culture of constant improvement from which no business unit or individual is exempt. Digital transformation is a team sport, and there are no time-outs.”
Workplace forever forward must embrace both sides of the network – Server In (Physical) and Server Out (Virtual). The challenge for the Chief of Space is balance. The IT becomes complicated quickly, and so does the real estate. We’re working through methodologies that systematically keep workplace processes in control. We’re consolidating stacks that have been fragmented and pulling data back into one centralized location that can be managed and maintained from anywhere. We’re looking at the physical properties of what office space does to support task-based and focus-based workflows. We’re determining (departmentally) who is best suited to be a remote worker and who needs a daily environment. ‘Digitally mature’ companies see value in these discussions. This isn’t a fad or a trend.
In search for success, leadership will realize the role needs to incorporate three disciplines: HR, Real Estate/FM and IT. Three senior leadership positions with directional workflow to a centralized location subject to business analytics. KPI’s will elevate real time metrics and AI will begin to process simple task- based commands. The entire organization will be connected, not just by network, but by workflow and purpose. Done correctly and boldly proclaimed, this will generate a stronger pool of talent and produce a culture unrivaled by the competition. The end justifies the means.
These are exciting, dynamic times. Entrepreneurial thought and leadership ideas are what revolutionize business. Perhaps the most exciting part of this journey is that this evolution is industry agnostic. Good business process with great people behind them –all rallying for efficiency and common direction- will lead us out of the COVID pandemic and thrust open the locked doors of the office.
Chris Moeller is the Founder and Managing Principal of Orion Growth, a division of Gaia Ventures, LLC. He has been thinking through challenging business processes for over two decades and believes behind every great process is a greater human being. Orion Growth is restoring the human connection by fundamentally changing the way workspace is delivered.