We’ve been talking about the future of work for a while now… even before the pandemic changed the way we live and work. Before, it was all about making work happen anywhere, anytime, and seamlessly. Now it has accelerated and is the priority to keep businesses moving forward. The dedication and ingenuity of IT teams that have kept businesses, hospitals, schools, and governments up and running – allowing millions of people to work and collaborate remotely – is nothing short of amazing. The Future of Work truly is here!
Optimism for Businesses
But what’s next? I am an optimist and believe we have the opportunity to define a better future, especially if we apply important lessons from the pandemic. And the good news is I’m not alone in this: in a Cisco flash survey of 100 IT and business professionals worldwide, 74% predicted that their businesses would emerge stronger, despite the challenges of the current business environment.
This latest study focused on what work will look like post-pandemic, updating an earlier workplace transformation survey of 1,500 people across 12 countries, conducted December 2019 to January 2020. Together they present an optimistic picture of what organizations can accomplish moving forward.
For me, two key themes emerged from the latest survey results: business resiliency and connected employee experiences.
Workers need to know that their organizations can respond quickly, intelligently, and with agility to just about any event. And they want to connect in the most secure, flexible, and productive ways possible – from anywhere, at any time.
This was reflected in the top challenges cited by workers thrust into remote work situations:
- 82% mentioned the need for greater IT support;
- 77% worried about maintaining customer service levels and satisfaction; and
- Another 76% feared a disruption of workflow and processes.
The organizations that have fared best this year are typically farther along with their workplace transformation and embrace this future of work. Having the right IT architectures allowed them to scale fast and respond quickly to meet ever-changing opportunities and challenges. With increased visibility over their networks, they responded rapidly to sudden security threats — all while supporting a highly mobile workforce.
We’ve all seen the headlines about hackers exploiting vulnerable organizations, or platforms unprepared for the fast shift to remote work. But we’ve also seen the success stories of organizations that weathered the storm: all had invested in IT architectures that are digitized, automated, and highly secure. With these in place, organizations across all sectors — from retail and healthcare to manufacturing and public sector — had the flexibility and mobility to ensure business continuity.
Connected Employee Experiences
The dramatic shift in the percentage of employees working from home created unexpected challenges: the loss of informal kitchen and watercooler-style exchanges. But we’re finding that best practices emerged to empower employees: 67% have implemented social video conferencing “meetups” to compensate for lack of face-to-face social interaction, and 54% have implemented social chat channels.
Organizations are also putting employees first: nearly 9 out of 10 managers (87%) who responded to the survey said that they had to increase emphasis on employee well-being and work-life balance as a result of the pandemic. Of those managers reporting the increased emphasis, nearly half said they see this being maintained over the long term. Additionally, 53% of respondents say that trusting and empowering employees will be maintained over the long-term. This focus on employees is a silver-lining during what is otherwise a sobering period.
In the future, we’ll see trust continue as a hallmark of the future of work: just over 60% of employers think more employees will be offered flexible/remote working arrangements, and 49% say that enabling flexible working hours will be maintained over the long-term.
Cisco Webex: There Through it All
Webex is proud to have helped our customers before and during the pandemic, supporting every kind of collaboration. From 1:1 meetings and group brainstorming to real-time creative iterations and document sharing, it even supports the “virtual” water cooler! And Webex has built-in, end-to-end security that inspires trust.
I believe collaboration technology is critical as we move into the next iteration of work. Together with modernized IT architectures, Cisco Webex has proven it’s worth many times over and stands ready to meet new challenges and changing work habits. Despite these last few months, I’m excited by the role Cisco’s technology has played in keeping businesses — and the world — running. And I believe that we can look forward to an even better future of work.
Learn more about these and additional remote work insights at Cisco’s Future of Work site.
Watch the video news release:
Read the media alert [link]
Read the survey report: A New Perspective for the Modern Workplace
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