By Mark Kirstein, BitTitan
In 2020, companies around the world have seen the business landscape dramatically shift and have had to quickly act to maintain continuity.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new reality that has forced countless businesses to change their workflows and adopt new processes. The absence of a vaccine for COVID-19 indicates that social-distancing mandates will likely continue for the foreseeable future, significantly impacting how businesses can operate. Yet many companies are eager to resume normal activity, and as countries around the world and states across the U.S. prepare to reopen, much uncertainty remains about what the new normal will look like.
What has become increasingly clear is that how businesses operate moving forward is likely to change forever. As businesses navigate the new normal, here are some workplace changes that both employers and employees can expect.
Businesses Will Continue To Rely On A Remote Workforce
For the next 12 to 18 months, working from home will be the new normal for businesses and their employees. Organizations will continue to become better equipped for enabling large-scale remote work while investing in new infrastructure to easily shift back to remote work in the event of future waves of coronavirus or other unforeseen circumstances. This could entail deploying cloud-based office collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or issuing office-grade hardware, such as dual monitors and a desktop keyboard, in home offices.
The good news is organizations will increasingly see the benefits of enabling employees to work from home. These benefits will include improved focus and productivity as employees become more accustomed to remote work, and lower operational costs for companies that can lease less office space and stock fewer office supplies.
In addition, our collective idea of what the modern office space looks like will transform, with a range of possibilities in play. Office spaces could move away from traditional desks for individuals. Instead, there may be a shift to design flex space with a focus on team-level collaboration, allowing social distancing among workers whenever it’s needed. Alternatively, there could be a return to dedicated desks and cubicle dividers to provide a safeguard between employees.
The Operational Structure Of Businesses Will Shift
As businesses prepare for future pandemics, they will invest in four critical areas to enhance the stability of their organization.
In the first area, business performance, companies will implement and leverage real-time dashboards for increased insight and visibility into organizational data and performance. This will allow companies to modify strategies in real time as needed.
The next area of investment will be employee productivity. Companies will look to leverage technology, tools, and training to improve communication, engagement, and collaboration, as well as monitor and assess employee efficiency without physical supervision.
In the third area, companies will focus on ways to enhance IT remote management, as they will need to remotely manage devices that are company-issued or employee-owned that contain company data. IT organizations need to be able to push policies, install and remove software, and disable access from the cloud.
Finally, companies will adopt and leverage digital learning platforms and content to promote eLearning in lieu of traditional training methods. By having a platform to utilize digital learning content, remote employees will be empowered to learn at their own pace.
By investing in these areas, businesses will increase their agility and be prepared to endure a host of scenarios that may occur.
The Importance Of Flexibility Will Increase
Even with new technology investments, employers must also consider that flexibility may be necessary for employees. Productivity may still rise, but while working from home, employees may be unable to work a full workday in contiguous hours as they would within an office setting. They may have children at home with them or need to care for a loved one who is ill. Additional flexibility will allow employees to work during times that were previously allocated for other commitments, such as their commute to the office, or during early morning or evening hours as needed. As this will enable employees to work more hours from home, employers must be mindful that employees may be working more hours and encourage that a work-life balance is maintained to avoid burnout.
Alternatively, the increased flexibility may raise concerns about the ability of employers to ensure high levels of productivity are maintained. To help track company performance, employers can leverage tools such as dashboards for metrics and data that provide insight into the productivity of the overall organization and the ROI that’s being attained. Relying on such tools will enable companies to ensure that both productivity and business continuity are upheld.
A New Workplace Culture Will Emerge
A culture shift resulting from COVID-19 will occur, founded on increased communication in the virtual workplace. Management will need to prioritize and take a more active role in communicating companywide, which may require company leaders to delegate other tasks that they’ve traditionally performed to factor in the rise in communication.
As there will be an increased reliance on the digital workplace, businesses embracing new technologies and processes will first need to consider and implement an effective change management strategy. This is important to ensure the end users of the new technology clearly understand the changes being made and can easily adopt the new technologies. Companies may also want to rely on “culture champions,” or those within their organization who can help promote the swift adoption of these new tools and operations among the workforce. This can help drive culture in a digital environment and make up for the lack of face-to-face interaction from an office setting.
While there remain many questions around what the future holds as we continue to combat the challenges from coronavirus, there are also silver linings. By taking a proactive approach and leveraging the technology and tools available, businesses can mitigate the disruption to their business processes from the pandemic and position themselves to not only endure the current challenge but also overcome future hurdles that may arise.
About The Author
Mark Kirstein is the vice president of products at BitTitan, leading product development and product management teams for the company’s SaaS solutions. Prior to BitTitan, Mark served as the senior director of product management for the Mobile Enterprise Software division of Motorola Solutions, continuing in that capacity following its acquisition by Zebra Technologies in 2014. Mark has over two decades of experience overseeing product strategy, development, and go-to-market initiatives. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from California Polytechnic State University.