Despite being in the top three threats for many countries around the world, the global pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to all parts of our lives. The initial response from governments, businesses and organisations was remarkable for its speed, its scope but also for its humanity. We have all learned a lot about what’s possible and now people are starting to reimagine how work might change.
How will employers think about the nature of work?
We are seeing new patterns coming through. Office workers want choice and flexibility and teams are more dispersed than ever. Employers will solve this with hybrid models. They’ll rethink which tasks and roles can be done remotely, and which are best done in an office. That will involve thinking about the types of roles they have in their teams, the demographics within teams and their ability to offer choice to employees.
For me, there are three main areas where I expect to see lasting change in how work gets done: increased demand for enterprise-class connectivity, use of new collaboration technologies to keep workspaces safe and compliant as well as productive and innovative, and a heightened focus on team culture.
Secure enterprise-class connectivity wherever work is done
It’s no longer acceptable, or necessary, for working from home to be a second-class experience. Employees now have high expectations from their connectivity wherever they need to work. Employers see the need for enterprise standard connectivity from a productivity perspective but also see that their teams are often talking with customers from their homes now – virtual meetings need to be every bit as powerful as in-person meetings.
Deployment of new technologies to keep employees safe in offices and public workspaces
It’s clear that we’ll be living alongside Covid for some time. When the time is right for employees to return to their offices for those tasks that need to be done in-person, it’s important that they do so in a way that is safe and that respects employee concerns as well as complying with regulatory social distancing requirements. There are many technology solutions that help to address those needs.
To give an example, last week we announced environmental sensors in Webex devices which can detect ambient noise levels and count the number of people in a space. This helps ensure compliance with room capacity limits. Sensors can also see if people are wearing face masks. These sensors—and the data they collect— will become even more important now as they can identify unproductive or overcrowded spaces. This lets companies take action to improve productivity and the quality of the meeting experience.
A greater focus on team culture
Technology will always evolve and I fully expect to see amazing innovation in this space for many years to come. But actually, the technology is the easy part. To make all this work, we need to focus on team culture to ensure that people embrace technology and discover new and exciting ways of working.
According to Cisco’s Workforce of the Future survey, employees want greater ownership and choice in the new world of work. The study captured their feelings about working from home this year, their expectations for their organizations in 2021, and what learnings and new working practices they wish to adopt for the future. Finally, it sets a path forward for business leaders looking beyond the new normal.