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AIIM Goes Officeless and Pivots Toward a Mobile Workforce

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In the next year, AIIM likely won’t have any permanent offices.

Now, before the chattering class in the Twitterverse starts erupting with tweets like “#AIIM is vanishing! Once mighty AIIM a victim of #digitaldisruption #digitaltransformation!”, let me make myself clear…

AIIM is still rocking and rolling, but very shortly we likely won’t have any permanent offices.

I realize that AIIM is an extreme example of the Digital Workplace. And I know that as a 25-person organization, AIIM has a lot more flexibility than organizations operating at larger scale.

But the lessons learned along our journey to a more mobile workforce are applicable to organizations of all sizes and say a great deal about how information technology – and particularly document management-driven process transformation – change the game.

Confession: when we started this mobile workforce journey, I didn’t realize how far we would push the envelope. Three or four years ago, when I was CEO (I have since switched to a more external facing role we call “Chief Evangelist,” which I will admit that my wife and kids find hilarious), we started working out of home offices a few days each week. One thing led to another, and we now find ourselves on the path to going totally virtual.

So what did I/we learn along the way?

  1. A “virtual” mentality forces you to seriously embrace the cloud. I look back on how/why a small organization like ours ever had a server room, and it makes me shake my head.
  2. Committing to empowering a mobile workforce highlights the critical importance of a modern and mobile digital infrastructure to create, manage and share information. And in the process, it is forcing us to get serious about the very information management disciplines we have been preaching for years.
  3. A totally mobile workforce has also driven us to think seriously about SaaS approaches to our core enterprise systems. The process has taught us to be careful about locking up the content and documents associated with particular processes in a SaaS silo. On-premises content silos have always been a problem; single-process SaaS content silos are worse.
  4. I have found that people work more rather than less in an environment in which they have more control over their working conditions. I’m not sure this “always on” mentality is the sanest thing for all of us, but from an employer perspective, I know my team is putting in the time.
  5. Working remotely is enormously popular with our employees. And as many CEOs have found, it is extremely difficult to roll back this benefit once unleashed. So make sure you are serious before going down this path.

All of that sounds fabulous, right? It’s not without its challenges. Of note, onboarding new people into a virtual organization needs more attention.

Truth be told, I imagine AIIM will eventually wind up in something more akin to a set of smaller, decentralized gathering places versus 100% “office-less”.  We have found that consciously creating ongoing in-person connections and bringing people together can’t be neglected, and maintaining this discipline without some sort of physical office presence is difficult when times get tight.

But the core lesson is that committing to a cloud-centric, flexible and agile approach to where and how employees work is not just good for employees. A results-driven rather than attendance-driven strategy is good for the business as well, whatever your degree of “virtualness.” And a modern information and process infrastructure is critical to making it all work.


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