As businesses take tentative, socially distanced steps back to a very different workplace than the one they left just a few months ago, we take a look at how this brave ‘new normal’ world will affect workplace collaboration both in the short and long term.
Post lockdown, the most visible differences will be the essential, practical workplace changes that are necessary for businesses to comply with government guidelines and maintain their duty of care to staff. Fewer people in the office, leading to increased personal space, and the sight of masked colleagues making frequent trips to newly installed hand sanitisation stations will be embraced by a workforce that demonstrated, during lockdown, they are quick to adapt.
Fewer people in the office will, of course, lead to increased home working as businesses turn remote processes and practices from a lockdown necessity, to a future normality. The tangible benefits to businesses of a displaced workforce are clearly the cost savings delivered by the reduction in facilities, measured against any notional loss in productivity. The benefits to staff will also be financial with a reduction in costly commutes, as well as the more balanced lifestyle brought by the flexible working hours that could finally see the end of the traditional 9 to 5 working week.
While decisions will continue to be made, problems solved and ideas exchanged by the people that are in the room, the definition of ‘in the room’ will change. Location neutral meetings, with people physically attending alongside others connecting across the world, will surely become standard practice and, perhaps, evolve to a point where those calling meetings will make no distinction at all. Everyone will be in the room! As with most lifestyle changes of the last 20 years, it is technology powering this societal shift in working practices and attitudes, and we have already seen evidence of this new dynamic with huge increases in Zoom and Teams usage on our Clevertouch Large Format Interactive displays.
Central to the implementation of a location neutral working environment will be the necessity for businesses to manage their systems reliably and securely from the cloud. With remote working for all staff, all departments will need to seamlessly carry out their roles from wherever they are. This includes the CRM for the Sales Team, Accounts Applications for Finance, Digital Signage for Employee Communications and Meeting Room Booking Systems for the Facility Managers.
It will be essential for these systemic and operational changes to be carefully planned and managed, however, the bigger challenge to businesses will be maintaining the emotional wellbeing of a consistently distanced workforce.
While holding a meeting in a Huddle Room, for example, with people standing 2 metres apart or even not in the room at all, sounds laughably contradictory, regular team meetings will be more important than ever. Getting people together and focusing on a shared screen, whether they’re in the room or not, enables them to meet, to interact, to chat, to laugh, to support, to comfort, to think and to collaborate. This is what turns a group of people into a productive team, wherever they may be.
Just as the future has always been shaped by the lessons of the past, a successful business’ greatest asset has always been and always will be the productivity of its people, and its people are brought together through the tool that is technology.
As with most lifestyle changes of the last 20 years, it is technology powering this societal shift in working practices and attitudes.“