COVID-19 has forced millions of people to work remotely leaving the workplace changed forever. We have seen significant growth of tech companies spike and rapidly evolving innovation like never before. The future of the workplace is the hybrid workplace that has arrived and here to stay. In just a year, we have witnessed the traditional office spaces go through the most dramatic transformation impacting working styles, cost, company culture, people dynamics, and environmental sustainability. Let’s take a closer look at what’s really happening and is for the best?
Companies have realized the importance of adopting technology to remain relevant, competitive, and thrive. According to a recent Gartner report1, what would have taken the workplace 10 years to achieve can be seen now – essentially accelerating the workplace of the future by 10 years! With heavy investments being made in tech, large companies revisiting their workplace strategies, and increasing their budgets and the power of data – COVID-19 has forced us all to reimagine not just our workplace but business models altogether. At Smarten Spaces, we pivoted our complete product strategy betting big on this transformation because we believe that this is our chance to embrace change and let go of inefficiencies for good.
| “40% of organizations are currently prioritizing workplace transformation.”
SPACE & COST OPTIMIZATION
Before COVID-19, when most of us were expected to work in the office across the week we were accustomed to the quick huddles, coffee conversations, team brainstorming sessions, and a lot more collaborative benefits to getting the job done. But at the same time, there was efficiency in the system, and the lack of flexibility provided to employees led to higher expenses and not the greatest employee satisfaction or experience. COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of collaborative tools driven by tech enabling remote working. The long term effects are the shift in working styles, employee expectations, and true productivity. Giving employees the choice of remote working during preferred days of the week not only boosts productivity and employee satisfaction but can also reduce real estate expenses. If 100% of the workforce is not using their workplace all the time – is there a need for so much office space? This makes space utilization far more efficient and the option to still collaborate when needed in the workplace will co-exist.
| The majority of businesses are implementing a hybrid work model:
- Over 60% of Western European organizations will keep in place at least some of the newly implemented work-from-home policies.
- Over 40% of them will reduce their office floorspace as a consequence.
PRODUCTIVITY & EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION
Another noticeable area of impact of COVID-19 is decreased productivity. There is ample opportunity for technology companies to provide beyond collaborative services to solving real problems of productivity while working remotely. Organizations are investing more to make an employee’s home as productive as the office – this needs automation. Quick resolutions to a challenge managed and tracked in the easiest way possible can make remote working a tad bit smoother. Accessing an employee’s performance has reached a new level with the onset of the pandemic.
| “Businesses lose $600 billion a year to workplace distractions, and that remote workers are 35% to 40% more productive than their in-office counterparts.”
Any successful establishment views performance and employee experience with equal importance. The HR team in many companies are now beginning to get engaged in the workplace strategy during the pandemic. A part of the workplace strategy is the culture – it’s people who are now fragmented. COVID-19 has pushed organizations to double down on softer elements like trust and employer-employee relationships. The need for employees to feel cared for and supported has never been more critical and is likely to stay longer with an organization that provides the flexibility and means that help them meet their goals easier.
| “Workplace stress costs employers in the US nearly $200 billion every year in healthcare expenses”.
DATA IS THE NEW CURRENCY
As the workplace enters into this new era where there are still so many unanswered questions, the only proven methodology to deal with change is trend analysis driven by data. There will be many ways to solve a problem, numerous technology providers but there are only a few elements that would fit an organization’s business model – one size cannot fit all. Companies will need to understand what works for them and most importantly what does not. The fact-finding path, if trodden on well can change success dynamics completely. Cross-linking of data to make informed business decisions or provide the most relevant technology will change IT forever.
| “The notion of a tipping point for technology adoption or digital disruption isn’t new, but the survey data suggest that the COVID-19 crisis is a tipping point of historic proportions—and that more changes will be required as the economic and human situation evolve historic proportions.”
Change is inevitable and its pace is not likely to slow down – as the socio-economic situation evolves. Constant evaluation of goals and outcomes would prove helpful while finding the best technology fit goes without saying.
Connect with Smarten Spaces to learn how we can help bring employees back to work safely and set your workplace up for the future.
About the Author
Anushka Verghese is an extremely versatile entrepreneur who has conceptualized and designed over 20 successful software product lines in a year used by more than 30 global clients – many being a part of the Fortune 500 companies. Her latest product has gained significant demand as it enables the current and the new normal of the workplace to become secure, organized, compliant, and comforting to all commercial real estate space providers and consumers. Anushka is a scholarship candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Business for Design Thinking and has done her Masters from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and Strategy from the Indian Institute of Management and has played strategic roles in Cisco, NTTDATA, and Mphasis.