Monthly Archives: May 2016

What is the good for your business

images-7HP’s ZBook Studio G3 is a powerful workstation you can actually take with you. That’s because the system is pretty thin and light for a PC with such beefed-up hardware. Plus, the ZBook — reviewed at $2,651 and starting at $1,399 — can handle the most graphically demanding workloads, and features a sleek, sturdy design and solid security credentials.

The ZBook Studio G3 is surprisingly thin and light for a Windows workstation, weighing just 4.6 lbs. and measuring 0.71 inches thick. That puts it on a par with Dell’s Precision 5510 workstation (14.06 x 9.27 x 0.66 inches and 4.6 lbs.), but it’s more portable than larger Windows workstations such as Lenovo’s 17.3-inch ThinkPad P70 (7.6 lbs. and 1.2 inches thick). That’s a perk for commuters who need to carry their laptop between home and the office.

And anyone who needs to lug around their laptop will appreciate the ZBook Studio G3’s tough design. The notebook comes with MIL-Spec 810G durability credentials, which means it was tested to withstand vibrations, shocks, extreme temperatures and even short drops. Plus, a textured diamond pattern on the system’s underside will help you keep a good grip when you’re toting the ZBook around.

Just about every port a worker could want is available here. The notebook’s left edge includes two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet port. The right edge, meanwhile, adds two Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI port and a third USB 3.0 port.

Work Is All About Balance

Most workers agree that in-office technology helps more than it hurts — but balance is key to ensuring it doesn’t become a problem for productivity.

According to The Hartford’s Tech Work Survey, which polled more than 1,200 employed U.S. adults, the vast majority of workers said their productivity is improved by the internet (83 percent), email (79 percent) and mobile devices (72 percent).

This sentiment is no surprise: For many office workers, these technologies are used for the job, and a lot of what is accomplished throughout the day is done through the internet. In fact, 57 percent of those surveyed said they could not do their job for a full hour if the internet went out, and 19 percent said they could work for only 5 minutes or less.

Lindsey Pollak, The Hartford’s millennial workplace expert, said, workers’ reliance on the internet is dependent on the industry. In fields like tech, financial services and health services, internet connectivity — including email and social media — feels like an absolute necessity, whereas in industries like construction, transportation and hospitality/restaurants, it does not, Pollak said. [See Related Story: 10 Distractions That Kill Workplace Productivity]

Although the internet is essential for many of today’s workers, having that access can still be a double-edged sword. The Hartford study found that some workers do feel the detrimental effects of tech distractions. Social media is the most distracting, with 19 percent of respondents saying it decreases their productivity. Mobile devices came in second with 12 percent, followed by messaging apps (9 percent) and the internet (5 percent).

Similarly, a 2014 survey by IT services and technology company Ricoh Americas Corp. found that the majority of workers check personal email (76 percent), send personal texts (67 percent) and post on social media (35 percent) during their work day.

“We need to be connected to electronic resources for our work, which gives us a tremendous ability to achieve great things,” Terrie Campbell, CEO of Esquire Deposition Solutions and a former vice president at Ricoh, said in a statement. “But the flipside is, we’re a click away from alluring distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Hollywood gossip and ‘Angry Birds.'”

Indulging in tech distractions is a symptom of the disappearing boundary between an employee’s work and personal life, according to Campbell. She said there’s been a collective rebalancing to offset the work demanded of employees on nights, weekends and vacations.

“If you’re expected to be ‘on call’ during your personal time, it’s not outrageous to take a call from a friend or family member during work hours,” Campbell said. “The firewall between work and life has crumbled, so it’s understandable that personal affairs have seeped into work time just as work affairs have seeped into personal time.”

Tech is Redefining the Workplace

images-6The proliferation of more advanced technology means the way people do business is ever-changing. Developments such as the internet of things (IoT) present a variety of diverse opportunities across many industries, remaking the modern workplace and streamlining its operations. This shift is evident in the trend toward creating the so-called smart office — also known as the responsive or digital workplace — in which technology is used to make the physical work environment intelligent and adaptable to company workflows. “‘Responsive’ means that every aspect of the workplace campus, from collaborative tools to the built space, is able to respond to an individual’s needs and context,” Campbell Hyers, president of integrated solutions group of technology and media company Intersection, told Business News Daily. “The opportunity in workplace campus design is to build amenities that improve both experience and the bottom line.”

The idea behind the responsive workplace is to unify operations under one system and empower that system with machine-learning capabilities. By doing so, businesses can get more out of their employees while keeping them happier, as well as analyze a vast amount of data to make more informed business decisions.

“A smart office will be a tech-heavy office that will leverage technology to automate routine and everyday tasks to really optimize how we do work,” said Luka Birsa, co-founder and chief technical officer of Visionect, a digital-signage company. “Smart offices will boost productivity by freeing up employee time to do real work — the work technology can’t do.”

Here are just a few examples of what a smart office might include:

  1. Internet of things: “IoT will definitely be involved in the smart office,” said Lou Reinisch, associate provost at the New York Institute of Technology. “Smart lights, thermostats, virtual reality cameras, virtual reality speakers, etc. are all instrumental to the smart office.”
  2. Machine learning: “Machine intelligence is also showing up in fields like knowledge and management,” Hyers said. “Think about how powerful it is for a computer to be able to tell you the best person to speak with about a particular feature in your company’s product suite. The new workplace should be like a gym that has all of the equipment that you could never have at home, but instead of exercise, the workplace makes you faster, stronger and smarter.”
  3. Interconnectivity and control: “We also use a lot of smart devices — smart switches, dimmers, relays — to control everything in our school and office, from light to power consumption,” Julien Cyr, chief engineer at the San Francisco-based Holberton School. “We have a lot of sensors, too — UV, temperature, lux — and all of the automation systems [are] connected to our apps, like Slack, so we can order a coffee from a Slack Channel, as well as dim the light of a specific desk!”

By incorporating these and other technologies, companies can reduce their energy consumption, improve employee morale and boost productivity. However, when building a smart office, it is important to remember that not every business’s needs are the same.

“The smart office is up to date with the available technology best suited for [a particular industry],” said Ervis Zeqo, business development manager and IT security consultant at eMazzanti Technologies. “That might be IoT for a manufacturer, VR for a design firm or AI for a big data company. What is smart for one may not be for another, and it’s always changing.”

There is also a high bar for adoption; all of the technology required to build a truly smart office is expensive. Moreover, there aren’t a lot of test cases in the market right now, so many companies might be hesitant to make the initial investment required to implement a responsive workplace program without the assurance that it will really provide a return.

“The major obstacle is to convince companies that the improved productivity is worth the initial investment to build the smart office,” Reinisch said. “Many companies tend to base decisions on ‘benchmarking.’ Since this sort of office is not common, it will not be in any of the benchmark comparisons. Offices like this will only be built in companies with creative employees and where the bosses trust the creative employees to know what the employees need.”