Most businesses ask their employees to conform to their work ideals, not the other way around. But times are changing, and Canon Oceania is ready to throw this old convention to the wind. Recently the company has embarked on a new and unique change program that has focused on the work environment within the company--specifically on making sure they provide the best place for innovation from their employees. We had a chance to sit down with Ian Flemington, the HR and Communications Director at Canon Oceania, to hear more about the exciting developments within the company.
Most companies expect their employees to adapt to their way of business. What made you and Canon realise that the company’s workplace needed to be built around your employees?
The world of work has shifted and this was the catalyst for change at Canon, as we realised that the business needs to be built around our employees and the tasks they do, not the other way around and importantly that the way we work should reflect our brand. The change initiative offered our workforce the chance to develop and build an environment that best suits the way they work. Employees are at the heart of the Canon brand and our workplace revolution was driven by the understanding that business culture, reputation, innovation and prosperity lies in the hands of our employees. Most importantly, we recognise that everyone works very differently, and our workplace culture needs to reflect that.
To reach your new workplace goals, Canon Oceania invested $2.6 million in technology. What kind of technology?
The technology and services Canon have implemented provide its people with the opportunity to work in a way that suits them instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
We identified different worker styles and provided them with the most appropriate technology and solutions to help meet their needs: we invested in PCs, laptops and tablets, and we used our own technology and services to boost productivity and performance.
A ‘mobile worker’ for example is not suited to a desktop environment—they need to have a mobile device that moves with them and their job. They need information at their fingertips, not sat on a PC in an office but they need a suitable adjustable space to ‘touch down’ at between meetings. Similarly someone that spends the vast majority of their time concentrating, working on detailed documents needs a fast PC with hi-spec capabilities and a desk space that supports them including sufficient monitor display capability. It’s about moulding technology to the user, not the other way around.
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We also recognised that the nature of the workplace is changing and that access to information, streamlined processes and fluid document management is core to employee and business concerns. We see the free flow of internal information—regardless of location—as an essential aspect of modern business success. Therefore we have restructured, managing the majority of our documentation online, digitising paper-based workflows, and are automating many more manual processes through our own Uniflow business platform design and Managed Document Services.
The Canon framework reflects the reality of Work 3.0, recognising that the way we work, the environment we work in, and the technologies we use, are all constantly evolving.
Can you briefly explain the three working styles: mobile, balanced and focused?
The entire office space was constructed with the three working styles in mind; mobile, balanced and focused. Desk formation, meeting rooms and common areas were tailored to support Canon’s new hybrid working environment philosophy. Mobile workers are chiefly the collaborators, with only 20 per cent of time spent in individual concentration and brief moments in contemplation, whereas a balanced employee spends equal amounts of time at their work stations individually collaborating with colleagues. On the other hand, a focused working style involves long periods of time in individual concentration, with a smaller time dedicated to collaboration and contemplation.
Can you talk about the energy savings and decreased environmental impact Canon Oceania now has?
Sustainability played a key role in our move to the new headquarters in Sydney’s Macquarie Park. When we conducted initial meetings with our staff to find out what they wanted from the new building, “living green” was high on the agenda. We have achieved a Five Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The Living Green programme was instrumental in this achievement, taking into account many different physical factors of the working environment, including air quality, occupant comfort and productivity, as well as using recycled goods as part of the new build, such as our recycled cartridge wall. There has also been a 45 percent reduction in storage space in the new building, primarily due to us implementing our own technology solutions, and the new building is approximately 70 percent more energy efficient due to building structure and layout.
What has been the employee response thus far to the changes?
Within hours of moving into the building employees were operational and reporting that they were already having ‘coincidental’ meetings as a result of bumping into colleagues, allowing them to resolve issues in real time. The creation of collaboration zones has also led to an increase in spontaneous brainstorming, idea generation and innovative thinking within the business.
How do you see the hybrid work solution evolving over time?
Central to Canon’s workplace regime is adaptability to change; therefore, we understand that while workplace habits and behaviours are slower to change, technology is not. We pledge to always be one step ahead and empower our employees with the technology solutions and culture they need to collaborate, innovate, and grow.
What is the best leadership advice you’ve been given?
“Life is not for the feint hearted”. A mantra that I follow in both personal and professional life. Be brave, make those tough decisions, experience new things, own the outcomes – successful or not – and keep learning.