Remote working has emerged as a success story of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to major advances in technology and new working arrangements.
When the workforce was thrust into working full time from their home offices, agile IT teams didn't skip a beat. Technology was the lifeboat keeping organizations afloat during an incredibly disruptive time.
Now, the question is: How can IT leaders repeat that success when it's time to deliver solutions for the post-pandemic workplace?
It's been said that all transformation is change, but not all change is transformational.
Even though it's not yet entirely clear which changes will last and which will return to pre-pandemic conditions, most experts expect recent technology advancements and the shift to remote work to have a lasting impact.
As you consider how to address the evolution of work, here are some important takeaways we've learned during the pandemic.
Though prediction is an important part of planning, don't overlook the value of reflection.
Nobody could have predicted how much digital transformation efforts would be forced to accelerate within the past year. Yet, technology leaders proved a successful transition to remote work was not only possible, but probably overdue.
Before the coronavirus, remote work was considered a perk. There was a prevailing perception that workers who stayed home weren't as productive or engaged. For companies who didn't have any remote work policies in place prior to the outbreak, the transition was likely very difficult for employees.
Full-time remote work exacerbates IT's impact on the productivity and engagement of the workforce. In general, companies with an employee-centric culture were better able to overcome the barriers to meaningful work. That meant they were more resilient, and able to offer support to their colleagues faster than their less-prepared counterparts.
This experience underscored the connection between the physical, emotional, and digital employee experience and showed how important it is for companies take a more intentional approach as they adjust workplace policies.
This was a helpful glimpse into the future of work and how IT teams can support the workforce. Technology leaders play a central role in the larger strategy, connecting technology investments with the wider goals of the business and ensuring the workforce is supported and productive.
Based on case studies and survey research conducted since the health crisis began, there's been higher productivity and technology upskilling, particularly for organizations with agile IT teams who were able to pivot quickly.
Those without remote or flexible work policies likely had a rough time adjusting. That's especially true if they had outdated systems or legacy technology that had to be addressed and replaced. And for the digital laggards, adopting new work processes and tools may have been jarring.
Moving forward, IT teams need to continue working to improve the overall experience of workplace technology among their employees. To do so, they need to focus not only on hard data but also on employee feedback and other perception metrics.
With several vaccines in the final stages of testing, experts predict public availability will be possible sometime over the course of next year. In the meantime, many companies have returned to the office by varying work schedules, bringing people back in shifts, or moving to a more flexible working arrangement.
Now that businesses have successfully hurdled these obstacles, they're gearing up for the future of the workplace and all that job entails. Their IT teams will have to get creative, since the hybrid workforce will likely be a staple of the modern organization.
Your employees' experience depends on more steps, tasks, and technology than you realize. A meeting room booking system makes it easy to see how they interact with the spaces in the workplace, where your company could save on operating costs, and what to improve to boost productivity engagement.
These changes could help your business leadership estimate other operating costs. For example: Adjusting snacks and other perks, energy and utilities, and cleaning and security services based on how many employees used hot desking to reserved a desk or meeting room.
Some companies are rethinking their real estate footprint to respond to less utilization. For many, the amount of space they need per employee has actually increased due to the need for physical distancing. Imagine if you could allow employees to book space according to their schedule — and everyone else’s — as well as the size of your office, the number of safe spaces to work, and the type of spaces they chose to use.
For IT leaders, it'll be important to have a space management system in place to monitor what's being utilized, where the company could save money, and how things are changing.
You may already have some of the data you need. But if you’re using 20 systems that don’t communicate, you’re getting linear views of information that don’t accurately reflect your dynamic workplace. One solution is an integrated workplace management solution that keeps your data in a central place, resulting in more accurate reports and more actionable insights.
No matter what your strategy is, you need to have the systems in place for your commercial real estate executives and workplace leaders to track, monitor, and manage the office space.
How important is collaboration in the workplace? It’s vitally important, according to employees. In many surveys conducted over the course of COVID-19, such as this employee survey by CBRE, employees have indicated it’s one of the top factors for wanting to come back to the workplace.
But not all collaboration is considered equal. Take, for instance, the frustration when a meeting space is too small, double booked, or doesn’t have the right conferencing equipment. The ability to have spontaneous meetings is one of the largest benefits of being in the office.
That's more difficult when part of the workforce is working from home, and some employees are in the office only part of the week. Make sure your workspace is equipped with a meeting room booking system as a hot desking solution that employees can use to reserve desks in advance or on demand — no matter where they work.
Are there some people who would rather come into work on certain days? Is it possible to allow several employees to book a room back to back, or to reserve meeting rooms on a staggered schedule? What about the time needed to sanitize a desk or conference room before the space can be used again?
The hybrid workforce needs a simple way to view a space's schedule, their existing reservations, and information about a desk or room. For instance, they may need to check capacity limits, type of conferencing equipment, and find its location.
Employees have become more accustomed to using technology in their day-to-day lives. They use tools to streamline their day, manage their schedule, collect information, enter notes and set up alerts, and more. They expect workplace technology to make their days more efficient — not more complicated.
According to a global study of employees before and after COVID-19:
Room scheduling apps should also allow employees to navigate to their next meeting or the desk they've booked, especially if the office has been reconfigured and may look unfamiliar.
An employee experience app provides a touchless experience, enabling employees to reserve a space from their personal devices. It should also send them email reminders, Slack notifications, or send text alerts based on their preferences.
When the pandemic hit, did your employees struggle to get the tools and support they needed? Make sure you're ready for the changes ahead of time by investing in the technology that you'll need for the future.
For example, during the reopening phase you'll need the technology that helps employees feel comfortable working from the office. Later, you'll need tools that help empower your workforce so they can get more done and have a positive experience while they're in the workplace.
If businesses want to get maximum value from their IT investments, they need to focus on creating a tech-enabled culture. Having the latest gadgets and newest tech can be exciting, but doesn't necessarily bring much value to your company. It's much more important to invest in tools that streamline the workday, solve challenges, and enhance collaboration.
Maximize the return on these purchases by making sure employees feel confident in their ability to access and use them. Workplace technology should consist of tools to enable working in a more engaged and productive way.
After technology leaders bring new tech to the table, it's crucial to make sure users understand what the tools can do and how they work. Getting the most value from your IT investments means ensuring everyone has the knowledge and skill needed to use them effectively once they are deployed.
That involves not only managing the technical side, but also the more human side of implementation. IT leaders should communicate how new tools help leaders, their teams, and the business as a whole. For successful digital adoption, employees need IT departments to spend the time to help develop their knowledge and skill.
That's why our Return-to-Work Starter Kit is easy to use and can be deployed in minutes. The complete package of workplace software includes: