Despite its potential for relieving pressure on the workforce, automation in the workplace is often seen negatively, as a cause of job losses or a growing skills gap. Yet, done well, automation can provide critical support that frees people up to focus on more impactful work — and can lead to happier, more motivated and productive employees.

At a time when burnout has become a major issue — with Future Forum data showing 40% of workers globally experience it — automation can also help employees by simplifying work and saving them time.

So, how can IT leaders help reduce the cognitive load and automate common tasks such as creating sales decks using Salesforce data or raising purchase order requests? One way is through the digital headquarters (HQ).

Making automation a reality with the digital HQ

The key to effective workplace automation is keeping it simple and empowering end users. If a system is too complicated to set-up it becomes a burden on the tech team and is not scalable.

With most businesses still navigating the shift to hybrid, the one office that every employee comes into each day is the digital HQ — a single digital space where workflows between your people, systems, partners and customers. In transforming how teams work, communicate and collaborate, the digital HQ sits at the heart of automation initiatives, with free-flowing conversations built around specific projects or teams taking place in channels.

Heading into a tough economic climate, it’s more important than ever for organisations to keep teams motivated and engaged, so they are able to perform and deliver results quickly. Automation within the digital HQ is a major step towards this — empowering employees to liberate their time from manual tasks and helping them breeze through multiple requests that might otherwise perforate their day.   

Offering a no-code solution that everyone can use, Slack’s Workflow Builder hands control back to the team, boosting efficiency in the process. Just ask telecommunications giant Verizon, who used Slack’s digital HQ — alongside automations — to improve output and employee experience.


Personalised problem-solving

Verizon’s Planning and Engineering team were the first to identify the potential of Slack’s Workflow Builder to bring solutions to, not just their own department, but the whole company. This is because Workflow Builder is an easy-to-use tool that requires no coding experience, with over 400,000 people around the world having built workflows so far — 80% of whom are in non-IT roles. It was therefore easy for Verizon to see its potential to give teams autonomy in solving their own pain points.

Verizon launched the Citizen Builder Programme, encouraging staff to leverage automated workflows to create solutions. This level of personalised problem-solving meant issues were resolved with far greater precision than if another team had been tasked with the job. With one impactful example being how Verizon’s Wireline Network Operations team used Slack’s Workflow Builder to coordinate field technicians for last-mile service calls. Automating parts of this process not only reduced the load on the team but also led to more accurate customer appointment times — all without adding any additional pressure to Verizon’s IT team.

With an expansive telecommunications operation, and a reputation for excellent customer service, Verizon faces a huge amount of admin every day. But with Slack’s Workflow Builder, they have ensured it doesn’t take its toll on workforce motivation, and satisfaction isn’t reserved exclusively for its customers.

For more information on how Slack’s Digital HQ can help your business click here.

Application Performance Management, Change Management, Networking, Remote Work

For years, climate action groups such as the World Green Building Council have been working with businesses, organisations, and governments to deliver on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The central premise of their mission? If we are to fulfil the landmark pledges made in Paris, we need to rethink our built environments, with a colossal uptake in the number of sustainable initiatives and renovation projects that hasten decarbonization required.  

But the window of opportunity to take action is closing fast. Energy-efficient lighting retrofits within the built environment are pivotal if we are to achieve net-zero — and connected lighting’s role in the sustainable crusade cannot be overlooked. 

Buildings and construction account for 37% of energy-related CO2 emissions. It is self-evident that any government or business ought to be taking steps to introduce measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in their cities and set their regions on the path towards a net-zero built environment.  

That’s why major legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the US, the Energy Efficient Buildings program in Canada, and the Green Deal in Europe all include energy-efficient retrofits as a standard component of their manifestos. They understand the problem but need to be doing far more when it comes to implementing proven solutions. 

Connected LED lighting and smart systems 

Upgrading to LED lighting is one of the quickest and least intrusive aspects of the building renovation process. Lighting accounts for 13% of all electricity usage worldwide and up to 50% in cities.  

By moving to energy-efficient LED lighting, lighting-related energy consumption could drop to 8% globally by 2030, even while the total number of light points continues to rise. Pair that with the fact that in most cases LED lighting reduces a building’s energy consumption by over 50% compared with conventional alternatives—and by as much as 80% when connected and properly managed, monitored, and controlled. It’s hard to understand why more forward-thinking leaders aren’t taking advantage of the solution sitting right under their nose. 

Implementing connected lighting in a built environment offers energy savings and a massive reduction in carbon emissions — taking more than 553 million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere if all businesses and cities converted to LED. But that’s just the start.  

Connecting LED lighting to a network also lays the groundwork for creating a smart digital framework that lets building owners and managers combine control of their lighting with other services like HVAC, blinds, and space allocation. Connected lighting sensors and controls enable presence detection, scheduling, and other smart capabilities that further enhance a building’s energy efficiency while cutting excess costs and improving functionality. 

Today’s needs and tomorrow’s needs are one and the same 

The need for energy-efficient retrofits couldn’t be starker. The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being felt around the globe, kickstarting an energy crisis that is both destabilizing economies and damaging everyday livelihoods across continents. It’s been a wake-up call for many dilatory governments that drastic changes to our relationship with energy are needed. Frankly, they were needed yesterday. 

Still, it’s not too late to make a difference. Acting now in response to the energy crisis by taking steps to boost the energy-efficiency of the built environment will have a long-lasting positive effect on the climate.  

Short-term energy efficiency needs and long-term climate needs are one and the same. The benefits of switching to smart systems and connected LED lighting to slash energy consumption and carbon emissions are proven, measurable, and immediate. There’s no reason not to make the switch now —before we run out of time. 

Words must be followed by action 

The jubilation that accompanied the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 (COP21) was understandable. It was a landmark moment, with pledges made that, if accomplished, would not just shape the remainder of the century but the future of our planet. Which is why it is so disheartening to take stock of the progress that has been made toward those promises in the years since. A new UN report shows we are falling far short of our targets, set to blow past the Earth’s safe temperature threshold by almost a full degree

An analysis by the World Resource Institute found that current promises would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by around 7% from 2019 levels. To limit global warming to the proposed target of 1.5° C, that number would need to exceed 43%. We are not just failing but failing badly.  

But just because we’ve done too little doesn’t mean it’s too late. Yet. The current economic turmoil and energy catastrophe cannot be used as excuses for delaying the sustainable agenda. If anything, they’re further proof of why it’s needed. Thankfully, there are some out there who are taking note. 

Toronto and Sydney set the sustainability example 

Sydney’s city council has unanimously approved new planning rules that aim to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewables in buildings. Development applications for new office buildings, hotels, and shopping centres, and major redevelopments of existing buildings must comply with minimum energy ratings from January 2023 and achieve net-zero energy use from 2026. The new measures are expected to save more than AU$1.3 billion in energy costs for investors, businesses, and occupants from 2023 to 2040, and help the city meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2035. 

Meanwhile, Toronto is providing funding to support “deeper-than-planned” energy retrofits in 10 to 16 privately-owned buildings, with the goal of accelerating emissions reductions and identifying pathways to net-zero that can be replicated in other buildings. The initiative, part of Canada’s Energy Efficient Buildings program mentioned above, is seeking to rectify the fact that buildings are the largest source of GHG emissions in Toronto today, generating approximately 57% of total community-wide emissions. 

The economic and energy crises may be seen as today’s great foes, but don’t let them distract from the behemoth of the climate emergency. The dangers it poses are too significant and too imminent to be side-lined. Action is needed and it is needed now, lest we fall short on our crucial pledges. Promises made must be promises kept. Net-zero building renovations are a necessity. Cities like Sydney and Toronto are setting an example that cities around need to follow—and quickly.  

To find out more about Signify’s work on sustainability click here

Business Operations

Doing good for the planet is not inversely proportional to doing good business. Today it can actually mean better profit, stronger customer loyalty, and longer company sustainability.

First, offices are finding paper less necessary than they used to. Recent surveys show a drop in paper consumption since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Work-from-home and remote offices have played a part in the drop, but even as employees reenter the office full-time or in a hybrid arrangement, paper consumption still isn’t at 2019 levels.

Second, it’s worth following the investors. According to a recent McKinsey report, global sustainable investment is more than $30 trillion, a tenfold increase from 2004. Global sustainable investment considers “ESG [environmental, social, and governance] factors in portfolio selection and management across seven strategies of sustainable or responsible investment.

“The acceleration has been driven by heightened social, governmental, and consumer attention on the broader impact of corporations, as well as by the investors and executives who realize that a strong ESG proposition can safeguard a company’s long-term success,” the report says, adding, “The magnitude of investment flow suggests that ESG is much more than a fad or a feel-good exercise.”

A Rockerfeller Asset Management / Stern NYU study found that “Improved financial performance due to ESG becomes more marked over longer time horizons.” ESG is discussed much more now, but the impact is well beyond just the moment.

Consider the Long Term

The long-term perspective is clearer when you consider how eco-friendly and digitized the world is already becoming. By 2030 the tech-raised Gen Z will comprise one out of every five people in the workforce. This same generation and even younger people are prioritizing ESG, from the products they buy to the companies in which they work.

In other words, the shift is already happening and likely will accelerate.

Fortunately, there is still time to give your company an information advantage: turning it into an organization that is connected, intelligent, and responsible.

Connected means updating systems to reflect a thoughtful approach to managing data by giving employees and customers access to the right information at the right time and in the right format. This, in turn, enables organizations to pivot to a paperless environment, eliminate redundancies that waste energy, or make another ESG-forward shift.

Intelligence builds on these connected systems. If information is flowing smoothly, it will be easier to notice other ESG dimensions such as diversity and longer-term environmental impact. As Harvard Business Review recently shared, “Metrics like ROI or IRR are generally broken. They miss sources of value and use a too-high discount rate, which makes any investment in the future look worthless…. Instead, find and internalize the data that proves the value of longer-term thinking.”

Finally, responsibility means understanding how your organization is creating solutions or exacerbating the problems. Climate innovators and other thoughtful leaders are integrating ESG-forward ethics and principles into their business models and finding that their revenue is increasing, not decreasing.

If you’re ready to make a bigger impact, use the OpenText™ climate innovator calculator today to learn how digitization can help you reach your ESG goals faster while gaining an information advantage over the competition.

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