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Microsoft, Ipsos shed light on why workplaces need overhauling

January 24, 2018  

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New research from Microsoft and Ipsos shows that if leaders want to drive growth and innovation, they must foster a workplace culture that unleashes their employees’ creative approach to problem solving and desire to collaborate in order to generate fresh ideas. The study of 500 Canadian business decision makers found that adapting new cultural and technological changes are key to this transformation.

According to the research, the overwhelming majority of business decision makers (88%) point to the value of motivating and empowering employees to be their most creative selves as an important factor in creating a successful workplace.

Nearly the same number (88%) place an emphasis on leveraging technology for success because it helps employees collaborate with each other regardless of the physical location. That said, unlocking creativity is proving to be difficult with one in four business leaders saying that motivating and empowering employees to be their most creative is one of the greatest challenges.

“Business leaders are faced with profound challenges in a rapidly evolving economy and it is critical that they rethink everything from the organization’s culture to the physical and digital tools they provide to their workforce to drive value and stay competitive in this new world of work,” said Jordan Sheridan, general manager of modern workplace with Microsoft Canada.

Microsoft said in a release that changing employee expectations, more diverse and globally distributed teams — including more generations in the workplace today than ever before – and an increasingly complex threat landscape are all shaping this new world of work.

As a result, businesses need new ways of communicating, connecting and sharing in order to drive creativity and collaboration, confirmed by the research. The overwhelming majority (84% of business leaders say that modernizing how employees work, including the introduction of flexible hours and work arrangements, is important to the success of business.

“Historically, the workplace was designed to prevent communication,” said Bruce Mau, co-founder and CEO of the design consultancy Massive Change Network. “What we realize now is that communication flow within an organization is the most powerful creator of wealth, so we as business leaders need to find the synthesis between our physical and digital workspaces to facilitate this communication.”

The research, conducted by Ipsos to understand the pressures placed on businesses to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive climate, reveals that as business decision makers consider the evolution of the workplace, it is more important than ever to empower employees with the right spaces and technologies they need to do their jobs.

Findings revealed that designing a digital environment that includes upgraded technologies to improve business processes is the highest priority for 65% of Canadian business leaders.

More than three-quarters (86%) of business decision makers recognize that technology devices that make it easier for employees to do their job is critical. Additionally, 55% of this same group indicates that it’s very important to redesign an office space with fewer walls and more collaborative spaces.

Ultimately, the release states, “the marrying of the digital and physical is critical to the success of any organization in the modern world. Companies need to lead with the digital tools but it’s important to support this new reality with the physical workspaces that drive creativity and collaboration.”

An example of this is the recent collaboration between Microsoft and furniture manufacturer and design company Steelcase. The two organizations have developed a range of technology-enabled spaces to help organizations foster creativity and better collaboration.

“The problems people face at work today are much more complex than they used to be,” said Gale Moutrey, vice president of communications at Steelcase. “They require a new creative way of thinking and a very different work process.

“Creativity is a process in which anyone can engage and requires diverse work modes as well as different types of technology. People need to work alone, in pairs and in different size groups throughout a creative process, and they need a range of devices that are mobile and integrated into the physical workplace. Additionally, spaces should inspire people without compromising performance.”

The research is part of Microsoft Canada’s Modern Workplace campaign that is aimed at helping businesses better navigate the changing world of work in Canada. Further information is available at