When you schedule a meeting today, all it takes is a few clicks to schedule it on your company calendar, invite the right attendees, and share information like the time and date, the topic of conversation, and a link to join the virtual meeting.
In just a couple of minutes, you've booked your meeting and can get back to working on crossing items off your to-do list. And when you attend a meeting today, it's as simple as clicking a button and deciding whether or not to keep your camera on or off. It's efficient, convenient, and incredibly easy.
Because the pandemic sent everyone into an extended work-from-home existence, we've become used to acting quickly and sharing information instantly.
COVID-19 has affected technology in every facet of our lives — and even though most companies haven't fully reopened their offices, it's already affecting technology in the workplace, too. It's becoming possible to see the long-term impact COVID-19 will have on work after the return to the office. This is partly due to drastic increases in technology user adoption, since the start of the crisis that made it necessary — even in industries that have a reputation for being slow to adopt new tech.
Here's how COVID-19 has left its mark on work and why you'll need smart workplace technology to keep up.
Thanks to working remotely for more than a year, people are using digital tools, such as virtual workplace technology, more often than they were pre-pandemic.
In 1896, architect Louis H. Sullivan coined what is now a well-known principle: Form follows function. Meaning that how you build something should be based on how you intend to use it. This may have been true at the time, but with the acceleration of digital transformation, things can be quickly adjusted to meet any number of functions.
After now that people rely on smart workplace technology and have been able to eliminate many manual work processes, how the workplace is designed doesn't necessarily have to reflect a specific function.
For instance, how space is used in the office can change several times a day — one day an employee might book a small room for a virtual meeting with a colleague, then an hour later they can pivot to working on an individual project, and later they can use the room to meet briefly in-person with their boss, and afterward, they can stay in the room to take their lunch break.
And when you return to the office, having smart workplace technology to support the transition back will ensure all your employees — whether they're based in the office, visiting another location, or hybrid — have the best possible experience regardless of how they're using the space.
You're on a video call with your team and just heard your name, but you can't make out what's being said because the video and audio keep buffering. The meeting stalls and time is wasted as you try disconnecting and reconnecting from your home Wi-Fi. Bad connections slow things down. Plus, they're incredibly frustrating.
But it's not only poor internet connections that can slow down productivity.
When employees need information, they shouldn't spend several hours hunting it down. In order to be productive at work, they need to know where to get information from and how to access it.
What's most helpful is when your workplace technology solutions integrate with one another — for instance, when employees book a conference room, the reservation should sync with your company's calendar system. Otherwise, they'd have to duplicate the reservation to see it on both systems, and if anything changes, the updates wouldn't sync across both reservations.
By linking data from multiple sources, everyone can work more productively and the workplace runs more efficiently. Integrations reduce inefficiencies that waste valuable time and frees people up to think more creatively and by helping connect data across systems, leaders can get a fuller picture of the workplace, what employees need, and how those needs are changing.
Smart workplace technology means spending less time connecting to the resources and information they need, which empowers employees to work smarter, not harder.
Now, that's even more important because it's not only the Millennials and Gen-Z workers that are familiar with working digitally these days. Even though COVID-19 happened suddenly, people needed access to company systems, apps, and data. Everyone had to get familiar with using virtual workplace technology and to help them, IT leaders had to focus on automating processes and making them more intelligent.
Since most companies plan to implement hybrid models after the pandemic, you should invest in smart workplace technology to make working in the office simple for employees — whether they're assigned to a permanent desk or given the option to book a flex desk.
Teem's mobile employee experience app is one innovative workplace technology that makes this possible by allowing employees to quickly find and reserve space from the comfort of their personal device — at home or on their way into the office, in advance or on-demand.
And with office wayfinding software, your returning employees can come back to the office with less anxiety about finding things in the newly reconfigured space.
In an era where they'll be able to work from anywhere, people will have higher expectations for the office and the workplace technology solutions its equipped with.
How you approach smart workplace technology in the office needs just as much focus on the experience of the employees who will use it as it does on the bottom line. To ensure a great workplace after COVID-19, you need to have the right systems in place.
And right now, the stakes could not be higher when it comes to getting your return strategy right.
What's going to be the most important determining factor of your success when employees return to work is how well you create an environment that employees actually want to return to.
A huge part of that will be having smart workplace technology to support the return, give people opportunities to collaborate safely and without hassle, and enable leaders to get insights from their workplace data to inform and adjust their strategy as things evolve.
As IT leaders tackle these complex challenges, we want to help simplify the return process so your team can bounce forward with minimal disruption.