If you were to step into an office in the 1990s, it would almost seem like a different world. The design would be completely different compared to today and this is in large part down to the evolution of office culture. In a working world where our employers are encouraging us to be more collaborative and creative, our environment needs to accommodate this.

Therefore when we saw that Ricoh Singapore was launching a new concept called ‘Workplace of the Future’, we decided to explore this a little bit more.

They are launching a new service called ‘Digital Workplace Services’, which offers a mix ‘digital workplace consultation, planning and implementation, via a seamless integration of people, space and technology’. This is to help businesses to benefit from workstyle innovation, leveraging digital technology solution designs along with the comprehensive change management initiatives needed to ensure success.

The launch of Workplace of the Future. Image courtesy of Ricoh Singapore

We spoke to Ben Chong, Managing Director, Ricoh Singapore, to find out how Ricoh plans to expand this concept and the impact they believe it will have in Singapore and the rest of the region.

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The workplace has become a hot topic recently as the industry has evolved from cubicles to hot-desking and much more. What do you think has triggered the change and as businesses, are we ready to handle it?

One of the main reasons to create digital workplaces is simply because the workforce is changing. We have the rise of the digital natives who also expect more from employers from a technological aspect, they want a dynamic environment and more collaboration opportunities. They also have greater exposure to digitalisation and innovation, and are therefore more open to embracing new technology and agile ways of working

We also have the multi-generational workforce, how do we cater to the different working styles and how do we unlock their potential to ensure collaboration and communication is achieved easily with the different workers. 

Last but not least, is the issue of retaining and attracting talent. We need to innovate the workplace to ensure employees enjoy the flexibility, technology as well as grow within the organisation. Technology enables that and engaging the employees is crucial to ensure productivity and efficiency. 

Are Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia able to adapt to the evolving workplace, especially established businesses such as the banks?

I think it is a mindset shift that is needed for the change. Perhaps because of confidentially and sensitivity of information, banks might have different approach. 

However the trend of a digital workplace has been catching on with the aspect of the global challenge organisations face in attracting and retaining talent. Companies that foster an engaging and collaborative multigenerational working environment are likely to gain a competitive advantage in talent attraction. And this is a crucial factor for established businesses to keep the turnover rates in check. 

Connectivity and smart solutions are also very on-trend with SmartCity. Do you see this tying in with automation and productivity services for the country as a whole?  

I think it is about productivity. The ability to ensure your business and employees are productive. Digital workplace solutions allow that as it fosters greater collaboration, engagement and makes tasks simpler to do. 

Automation is great for mundane tasks and we can utilise that time saved for our staff to focus on more strategic roles such as customer engagement and counsel.  It all adds up. If businesses and organisations can start thinking about improving the workplace to be more productive, it can possibly help the country as a whole. 

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How does your Singapore digital workplace improve efficiency and collaboration in the workplace?

As part of the transformation to a digital workplace, we have removed the silos that had prevented the staff from communicating and collaborating. We have created an environment that is conducive for interaction and working together. 

By also utilising our technology such as interactive whiteboards and projectors, customer issues are addressed faster and more effectively. 

Our huddle rooms are also a popular place where the Sales and Marketing staff are able to formulate plans and address key challenges effectively saving time over long meetings and emails. 

For businesses wishing to adopt, our digital workplace solutions are able to:

  • Firstly – to improve internal efficiency, productivity and improve asset utilization.
  • Secondly – to build a digital workplace to cater to the future workforce, promote collaboration and improve staff engagement.  
  • Thirdly – to offer a new customer experience using the latest technology in the workplace.  

How do you foresee overcoming the issue of digital transformation that is required for full utilisation of the business?

Culture, rather than technology, is often one of the major barriers to digital transformation. This is when Change management comes to play: the main challenge is getting the buy in from internal staff on the transformation. How do we do that? The continuous education to get staff to understand the value proposition was crucial. 

Convincing them to believe resulted in them taking the initiative to transform the office by setting up of internal working committees. By working together as a company towards adopting the change and full utilisation of the business, no longer a top-down approach where employees just execute without thoughts. Keep employees informed and involved through the whole process. Empowerment is the key to the future they all work towards for.

Do you plan to roll out these solutions to the rest of the region and to which markets are you considering?

As of now we are focused on Singapore.

What can we expect next from Ricoh?

Being industry leaders, we understand that enhancements take time for research, design and manufacture, which means customers might have to wait for new enhancement. Digitally empowered workplace forms the foundation for profitable business agility, a game-changer whereby the technologies deliver timely solutions to solve business needs instantly. 

Business agility is both a mind-set and an ability to respond quickly. And embracing flexibility it leads to greater collaboration and solutions to social challenges. We support a new style of “working” by “giving shape to new digital possibilities for future”.