The way we work has been progressing for decades, but today, we’ve reached a critical moment in the evolution of the workplace experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed nearly every aspect of life — particularly the way we work. While most companies meticulously planned their digital transformation in gradual phases, the virus forced us all to condense years-long projects into a matter of weeks. Suddenly, IT teams around the globe raced to implement new technologies and processes so their workforces can operate remotely with minimal disruption.
Now, as workplace leaders slowly prepare to reopen offices, employees will be returning with new expectations for the workplace experience.
Technology is one of the three most important factors that define the workplace experience, according to author and researcher Jacob Morgan — which means IT leaders play a critical role in shaping it.
Here are three steps you can take now to ensure your workplace experience is ready for these new realities.
Business leaders everywhere are struggling to strike a balance between meeting the needs of a more agile workforce and adjusting their real estate accordingly.
While nearly a third of the workforce had some experience with remote work before the pandemic, new Gartner research shows 41% of employees plan to continue working remotely at least part of the time.
Recent data from CoreNet also shows almost 70% of organizations plan to reduce their office space to account for the increase in remote work.
When employees are in the office, they’ll need to be able to reserve a desk or reserve a room at a moment’s notice so they can maximize in-person time with their colleagues. At the same time, they’ll likely have concerns about maintaining a safe distance to minimize their exposure to the coronavirus.
The secret to addressing all these seemingly conflicting priorities? Workplace data.
As an IT leader, you can help facilitate better decision-making with user-friendly technology that also gives you better insight into how your spaces are being used.
That includes data on:
By providing employees with the flexibility they’ve grown accustomed to while capturing these valuable workplace analytics, you can help your executive team make the most of your real estate.
For instance, if you know a percentage of your workforce will continue to work remotely several days a week, you can allow them to book desks when they need them, rather than continuing to have assigned seats for everyone. You can then review desk-booking data over a 30-day period and determine whether you have too many reservable desks or not enough.
You can also see peak utilization for each day of the week. If you notice everyone seems to be in the office on Mondays but hardly anyone comes in on Fridays, you might consider adjusting department meeting schedules or asking some employees to shift their typical “work from home” days so your office space occupancy rates are more balanced.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to force businesses to run leaner. While this led to many difficult decisions, it also presented an opportunity for leaders to more critically evaluate their workplace technology — and eliminate redundant or outdated applications.
It’s a good idea to apply this same level of scrutiny to future technology investments. Make sure any new solutions you add are truly necessary and will simplify your employee experience, rather than adding complexity.
For example, Pinterest offices used to experience a common challenge: each conference room had its own unique setup with different TVs and different types and brands of cables. Employees often spent several frustrating minutes figuring out how to connect devices and launch meetings over and over each day. It was a productivity nightmare.
To solve this, Matt Thorne, Head of IT at Pinterest, decided to standardize equipment across all offices.
“In this day and age, there’s no excuse for anyone to go into a room and not be able to start a meeting with just one click,” Matt said at our 2019 WX Summit.
And that’s why, now, whether you’re visiting a Pinterest office in Michigan, Utah, or Ireland, you’ll find the same exact setup.
The same reasoning should hold true for everything from your hardware to the room scheduling software you choose. Keep your technology consistent and ensure everything integrates seamlessly. Your room panels should integrate with your wayfinding software, calendar app, room reservation tool, and any other relevant solutions.
The more streamlined your technology, the less friction employees will experience, and the more time you’ll save.
As people return to the office, they’re probably going to feel a bit apprehensive about gathering in small conference rooms. Your visitor management processes may also need some tweaking.
You have a unique opportunity to impact the wellbeing of your workforce by choosing technology designed to support employee health and safety.
That includes safe space planning software that creates new floor plan scenarios based on designated distance parameters. In addition to rearranging desks and reconfiguring conference rooms, you can also reduce office density by assigning employees to work in the office on alternating days.
You may also need to schedule conference room cleanings between meetings to ensure shared spaces are well-sanitized. Implementing an app with user-friendly work requests can facilitate that process.
And as contact tracing has become a key public health concern, a visitor management system allows you to maintain a digital record of everyone who comes into your office, from vendors and contractors to clients and prospects.
This solution could also come in handy when a delivery person drops off packages or meals. Instead of asking a receptionist to handle the items, and risk exposure to several contaminated surfaces each day, the visitor management system will alert the appropriate employee that their delivery has arrived. Then, they can retrieve it themselves.
There’s no denying things have changed. And while some of the shifts in behaviors and expectations will be temporary, many will have a lasting impact on your workplace experience.
By investing in the right technology and preparing for changes early, you’ll be well prepared for whatever the future of work has in store.