Flex office: happy or depressed employees?

Flex office

Monday 9 am, I am discovering my new workspace: sofas, high tables, meeting bubbles, phone call spaces, plants…I am officially working in flex-office.

According to a study by Actinéo, nearly 50% of professionals work from outside their office at least occasionally, and 28% do so regularly. From home office to desk sharing and coworking spaces, the workplace is becoming more and more flexible.

The Flex office consists of the absence of an assigned office in the workplace. Imagine arriving in the morning with your laptop and settling where you want to go every morning. But is it a concept to adopt? In this article, you will find the advantages but also the risks that can appear with the flex office and personal feedbacks.

To better understand the concept let’s take a tour at Orange collaborative workspace office.

A win-win situation for both employee and company

The flex office appears after different observations such as the office occupancy rate of only 60% in France. But also that the digital revolution allows many workers to communicate with their team from anywhere. In addition, employees are increasingly turning to companies that offer a certain level of comfort. By moving away from the constraints of schedules and journeys, they can gain in serenity and productivity.

flex office: call and working

The flex office meets different needs and desire:

1. Flexibility

An employee’s tasks vary from day to day. Analysis, data entry, call, content creation, brainstorming, meeting… Choosing your work environment according to the activity of the day is a real factor of productivity.

2. Communication

Usually grouped within the same department, employees rarely can exchange ideas externally. With the flex office concept, barriers are removed to allow everyone to connect easily by sharing ideas and knowledge.

Collaborative spaces allow two people from different departments to meet face-to-face and take the time to discuss current issues. A simplified communication is created. Employees then have a better understanding of all the company’s businesses and are more collaborative and engaged.

flex office- meeting

3. Space optimization

For the company, every square meter of unoccupied space represents high costs. The layout of the spaces is, therefore, important when we know that 60% of the offices would be unoccupied on a daily basis.

The flex-office makes it possible to remove a large part of these vacant spaces to make them user-friendly and useful spaces.

Flex office is not for everyone

flex office - meeting spaces

This new spatial organization is not without consequences for employees. According to an OpinionWay barometer from 2017, 68% of a thousand employees surveyed are afraid of desk-sharing.

Depending on the functions of each person, the flex office experience can thus be lived in very different ways. For example, those who work in project mode and spend their time running from one place to another in the open space will probably get used to this mode of spatial organization. For others, the break can be brutal and employees can feel lost. Where is the picture of my loved ones, or what happened to that pile of files still lying around on my desk?

Here are some examples of tension created by the flex office:

1. Loss of personal space

As I told you earlier, with the flex-office employees have their workspace completely modified. Used to a dedicated office and personalized to their image, it can be difficult to imagine becoming a nomad.

2. Isolation

flex office- call box

The flex office, if poorly controlled, can have the opposite effect to that expected. It is important to provide many collaborative spaces and to regularly bring together your teams in order to accustom them to group together on their own.

3. Caring management

For the flex office concept to work, the company must be based on trust. An essential value for happy and productive employees. As positions are no longer allocated and compartmentalized, it is difficult for a manager to have a constant eye on the presence of his teams. Between teleworking, collaborative spaces, cafeteria or meeting box, the employee can be anywhere at any time.

Hence the need to organize regular meetings with his team in order to monitor the progress of projects.

Many companies have adopted this new working organization, such as Sanofi or BNP Paribas. For the flex office concept to work, the company must prepare its employees. For example, organizational issues will have to be considered beforehand to reassure employees and allow a smooth transition. And you are you ready to move on to desk sharing?

Smart Speaker: Crazy or Creepy?

Smart Speaker: Crazy or Creepy?

“Ok Google, turn on the light of the living room”, here is one of my first sentences when I get home. Like many people, I gave in to the temptation of the must-have gadget of a smart speaker for Christmas.

After seducing 19,7% of the total US.population, smart speaker have arrived massively on the French market. Google was the first on the French market in 2017 with Google Home. Amazon joined him in 2018 with the Echo speaker range, quickly followed by Apple and HomePod.

All these products have in common that they are connected to the Internet via WiFi and have a virtual assistant capable of answering oral questions. With their synthetic voice, they promise to make life easier by providing access to a multitude of services faster and more naturally than by typing on a smartphone’s virtual keyboard.

But it is important to have some understanding in mind before buying it because it might also be a threat to privacy. Instead of comparing all features offers by those smart speakers here are some question I asked myself before purchasing my Google Home.

Are they real value added technology?

Smart Speaker Features

  • Access to certain features faster than on a mobile phone

“Alexa, launches episode 2 of Season 3 of Orange is the New Black” or “Hey Siri, plays my favorite playlist” “Okay Google, turn on the TV on M6”. These are some easy commands to execute if you have a subscription to Netflix or a Spotify account.

  • Plan your daily life

“Okay Google, what are my appointments today?” The smart speaker will state the elements listed in your Google Calendar. It can also wake you up at a pre-defined time with the sound of birds, then gives you the weather report and the latest news.

  • Control connected objects in the house

Turning on the light, managing the thermostat, open your shutters, etc. Be careful, it’s necessary to check beforehand that your devices are compatible with the speaker. You will also need to be very patient with the configuration. Once these pitfalls are done, it’s possible to program your object. For example, opening your shutters at 8 o’clock; turn on the light of your bedroom at 8:10 o’clock and turn on the coffee machine at 8:15 by simply saying “Hey Siri, hello”.  Freaky or not?

This new technology will help us know everything whenever we need it. Announced as our digitized future, information is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

What can’t they do?

The smart speakers are still imperfect because no one is perfect, isn’t it? Sometimes you have to ask them several times to make yourself understood, especially when you are asking for foreign music.

Those connected speakers are not able to hold a conversion like a real human yet. It is better to use the lists proposed by each company (Google, Amazon, Apple) to be sure to be understood.

Are they spies in the middle of your living room?

smart speaker privacy

Installed in a corner of your living room, the connected speakers are a new gateway for Amazon, Google and Apple. It allows them to propose their services directly to their consumers’ home and to learn more about their habits and their behavior.

Before purchasing this type of product, it’s necessary to keep in mind that it is an Internet-connected device equipped with several microphones. They are normally in standby and are activated only when the keywords of the smart speaker are spoken, such as “Alexa”. Despite this precaution, there is a risk of hacking, as with any connected object on wifi.

Several episodes of involuntary activation of their microphones have already been shown in the news. For example, Washington station KIRO 7 was contacted by an American couple that had their conversation recorded and transmitted to one of their employees in Seattle by an Amazon speaker.

This isn’t the first time Alexa has gone wrong. Users of Amazon’s digital assistant, have reported their Echos were laughing at them for no apparent reason.

Those type of incident can be very dangerous with regard to the data collected by these devices. Those speakers collect lots of information about the business habits and behaviors of their users. The data tell a lot about their private lives.

How to limit their intrusiveness?

smart speaker security

If you are sensitive to these connected objects, it is possible to limit their intrusiveness by respecting certain elementary principles. Here are some advice given by The French personal data protection authority:

  • Turn off the microphone when you are not using your speaker or when you receive friends.
  • Regularly delete the history of your conversations
  • Don’t give the responsibility for sensitive functions such as alarms or locks.

These easy tips will protect you in case of hacking or malfunctioning. Therefore, you have to be aware that when you ask something to these speakers, they select the information sources of the answers for you. While your computer or smartphone offer you several sources each time. The selection of the answer may influence you.

In the ideal connected home, humans could converse easily and safely with their digital personal assistants, asking them for a whole range of services. Collecting our data allow them to deliver more targeted services and improve the quality of the services we get from our virtual assistants but is it really worth losing our privacy?

Smart Speaker: Crazy or Creepy?

How marketing automation platforms help marketers do more with less?

It’s 11 am on Friday, Caroline is already taking a break. Why? Because in a short amount of time she schedules different emails to different segments. Lead nurturing, has never been so fast since the arrival of marketing automation. According to Salesforce, in 2017, 67% of marketers rely on a marketing automation platform.

What is Marketing Automation?

Many organizations and marketing departments have to automate repetitive and tedious day-to-day tasks such as emails, social media, online advertisements, and more. Marketing automation is a technology that manages those tasks automatically.

With marketing automation platforms, organizations can target customers with highly personalized automated messages that help convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers across every channel. Marketing automation helps with lead generation, nurturing, and scoring.

When it is used effectively, employees are free to focus on strategic problem-solving. So, let’s take a deeper look into marketing automation benefits for marketers.

marketing automation definition

How does marketing automation benefit the marketing team?

Marketing automation goes beyond organizational tools, they change the role of marketers. Discover how it benefits marketing teams, thanks to these 7 reasons.

#1. Define or refine your marketing processes

Getting a clear picture of the current marketing process isn’t an easy task. Marketing automation requires you to clearly visualise a customer journey and strategy in order to create processes based on their activities.

Let’s move on with Caroline. She has a famous digital blog and she is trying to sell her inbound marketing services. Caroline generates leads thanks to a contact form, Facebook ads, and a newsletter subscription. She has several lead qualification processes depending on the form completed and she wants to nurture new subscribers. Starting with a marketing automation platform would require her to clearly visualize her current marketing process.

marketing automation - targeted campaign

#2. Ultra-targeted marketing campaigns

Having a clear vision of your audience enables you to design the right content for the right person, and automatically trigger actions based on schedules and lead behavior. Imagine reaching thousands of different leads with thousands of different messages in a fully-automated way. And, as we all know: the more relevant an offer is to a potential or current customer, the more likely they’re willing to pay.

For example, Caroline can schedule different social posts to different segments of her audience, based on data from the CRM system. It helps her to create a successful social media strategy.

#3. Facilitate campaign creation

As she now has a clear view of her marketing processes and audience, she wants to put the customer first. To encourage them to move to the next stage of their customer journey, a personalized and relevant content is necessary.

Depending on their current stage the content and channels are different. Hopefully, marketing automation tools have a drag and drop interface, enabling her to build email campaigns, social campaigns, and landing pages without technical expertise.

#4. Target potential customers across multiple channels

The different personalized campaigns will enable you to truly engage customers across different online and offline channels such as email, social media, phone calls, Youtube, blog and more!

Those platforms also track recipient responses to various marketing campaigns across multiple channels. They measure the results to determine the returns on the marketing investment in each channel.

marketing automation - lead nurturing

#5. Easier to nurture leads

Nurturing your leads is crucial in a marketing strategy. According to Marketo, 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy.

Automated content will help you nurture your leads more easily. For example, Caroline triggers an automatic email 1 week after subscribing to her newsletter to propose her latest content. Depending on their reactions another email will be sent with a case study attached. These predefined instructions are called workflows.

#6. Increase customer lifetime value

No more revenue lost because of human omission. Automated rules can be used for your up-sells and cross-sells. Automated campaigns will be sent to the right customer at the right moment, for example 30 days before their birthday.

#7. Less repetition, more effective

Replace manual repetitive tasks with automated rules and campaigns will free up marketers to focus on strategic problem-solving and creative tasks.

Finally, by implementing a marketing automation system you not only speed up your marketing process and increase employee productivity, it also allows you to perform a better management of your resources and reach more effectively.