Post Pandemic Workplace
While speculation about the duration and economic impact of the pandemic continues to swirl, certain things are becoming abundantly clear. The rapid implementation of social distancing mandates, travel restrictions and the mass move to a remote workplace, have forced seismic changes to the office of the future – and they are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Reimaging the office of the future
After months of working from home many employees are re-evaluating their relationship with the office environment. Navigating a new normal has made us rethink our day to day. It no longer necessarily includes commuting to the office five days a week or being concerned about dry-cleaned business attire.
Time spent in isolation has not only allowed employees to reconsider how, when and where they would like to work, but also demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of these options. This means many are now operating in a hybrid working environment where employees split their time between a physical office and working from home.
This could be the ideal solution for the future of work. Each of these work environments have distinct advantages, and the combination of the two may just be the ideal solution.
There is of course a challenge in striking the right balance between flexibility, productivity and equality. So, what does the office of tomorrow look like and how can employers best prepare?
The benefits of the new normal
Remote office environments can facilitate greater flexibility and a better work life balance. Improvements to employee health, reduced stress levels, lower absenteeism and decreased staff turnover have all been cited as benefits for a better work life balance.
Despite these advantages of a better work life balance being touted for years, there’s often apprehension for employers to fully embrace the concept. While many would say this trepidation was unfounded, businesses are often conservative when it comes to change.
The recent requirements to isolate and socially distance have forced the rapid acceleration of digital transformation to enable to the adoption of remote work. For many businesses this change has proven to be, not only manageable, but successful in many ways.
The role of technology
Physical office environments promote personal interaction, collaboration and peer engagement, all key elements to maintaining and building relationships. Ad hoc discussions, socialising and both formal and informal training sessions, help to build team cohesion in a way that is difficult to replicate effectively in the digital world.
Having said this, new technologies adopted to accommodate mandatory quarantine measures have gone a long way towards bridging this gap and are proving to be the mainstay of the post pandemic workplace.
Collaboration and conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex provide a centralised platform to engage and co-create virtually. Digital presence, chat, and click to call video, allow teams to remain connected, engaged and organised, whilst also assisting businesses to retain a corporate culture.
While the transition between office and remote workspaces can seem both unproductive and confusing, creating a consistent experience is possible with smart tech tools that can streamline processes and procedures.
Deploying a digital workspace like Microsoft Virtual Desktop or Citrix Managed Desktops can unify the experience increasing productivity and efficiency. Cloud based storage and platforms offer flexible data access, be it from a designated desk, a boardroom, remote office or even a coffee shop.
Embracing technology will position a business to be a successful workplace of the future.
Engaging your team
The loss of day to day interaction and employee visibility will pose a new range of obstacles for many businesses. There will need to be a fundamental shift in the way businesses measure success and remunerate staff.
Rather than focusing on attendance, employers will need to concentrate on outputs and deliverables as the indicator of professional contribution. This shift in mindset can provide a true work life balance for employees as well as real value for the employer, resulting in a win-win arrangement.
There is no doubt the pandemic has forced businesses to rapidly adjust the way they operate. Work from home, social distancing and travel restrictions have brought some of the most aggressive changes to the Australian workplace we’ve ever seen.
Conducting business in a post pandemic era will be different. Those who structure themselves to embrace this flexibility and technology will not only weather the transition but thrive on the other side.
Author: Ian Welch, is the CIO and Director of Operations at Dicker Data (ASX:DDR), ASX listed and Australia’s leading distributor of hardware, software, cloud and emerging technologies with over 41 years of experience.