The global pandemic has allowed us to witness two different forms of working in the last few months. One, where we enjoyed the freedom of going to the office and the other when we had to switch to remote working due to the pandemic. Organizations were unequipped to handle this situation, but who in the past could have expected such a crisis?
Since then, COVID-19 has dominated our lives and made us witness several changes that have affected the ways we work. As the crisis continues, businesses are exploring alternative ways to sustain remote working and engage employees. Hence the weekly virtual coffee breaks, meditation sessions, or virtual customer meetings, are not going away anytime soon.
The ways of working we left behind
With the abrupt changes wrought by the pandemic, we now attend virtual business meetings, track our teams’ performance remotely and stay productive from our homes. This challenging time has trained both organizations and employees to execute tasks with a limited set of resources and manage the change efficiently. Here comes the time to say goodbye to our old ways of working; that involved travelling to office daily, interacting with peers and having face-to-face discussions while working from the same allocated desk.
Now, we need to revisit the ways of working and redesign digital workplaces by implementing organizational policies, focussing on user-experience parameters, productivity measurement metrics, office locations, employee benefits, user devices, and IT support and enablement, etc., ensuring uninterrupted business continuity.
Planning for the next generation of working
As we speak, we are experimenting different approaches of remote working to handle the situation at hand, and preparing the transition to the next normal. Most organizations around the world have already started strategizing the new shift for their employees and developing business continuity plans for the future, which they had not envisaged in the past. They are using their past and present experiences to prepare a fool-proof continuity plan for the future to embark on this new journey with their employees. It would be a gradual and planned journey that would allow employees, the flexibility of choosing their work location.
How does the modern workplace look like?
To design the appropriate post-COVID-19 workplace, it is important to align the physical workspaces and employees with the right technology that enables the vision and creates a fluid digital workplace that provides flexibility, scalability, on-demand availability, and business continuity for future. In this changing environment, the digital workplace will play an important role by facilitating employee engagement, productivity, and continuous performance.
As offices reopen, employee safety, health and well-being will be the top priority for enterprises. Business leaders have to contemplate and put together a strategy to identify profiles of ‘mission-critical’ employees associated with ‘essential services’ and plan their return to the workplace and allowing others to continue working remotely. This step must consider employees’ interests and assess their readiness to enter the workplace.
Assessing employee productivity will be a common issue for many organizations which will ultimately trigger demand for tools that can enable organizations to remotely measure experience for selected profiles/employees.
From an employee perspective, they should have complete flexibility in choosing their work location. If an employee plan to work from the office, the organization need to enable employees to plan the workday well in advance like booking a relevant work desk, meeting room, parking space, improving experience while also ensuring safety and sanitization.
Is it the right change?
We expect that this turns out to be a positive development, wherein people can reduce their everyday travel times, balance personal and professional life, and achieve real-life flexibility. Organizations could now reduce real-estate footprints, schedule a limited set of employees to visit the office when needed, restrict people movement, allow only healthy employees to enter the premises post temperature checks. The next generation of the modern workplace will have co-working spaces within existing facilities, enable hot-desking for employees, have digital lockers to keep things safe, monitor meeting space usage trends, trace employees who have reported poor health, enable remote support, and digitize every manual touchpoint.
Now is the time to react!
We believe this is the best time to prepare and strategize the reopening of workplaces., it is imperative for the relevant stakeholders including, HR, admin, real estate, security, to put together a comprehensive plan and create a workspace that ensures health, safety, flexibility, and supports both on-site and remote working employees.
Finally, enterprises need to focus on the big picture of creating a fluid workplace that is scalable, connected, adaptive and personalized. To adapt to the future of work, leaders must create a holistic plan of adopting new-age technologies, embracing culture and gig economy to stay competitive through the crisis and beyond.