The world of work changed like never before in 2020 and it will continue to do so in 2021 and beyond. Vaccinations for COVID-19 will hopefully help us all move back towards a more normal way of doing business, but many of the new practices adopted over the last year will stay with us in the long-term.
In any case, it’s clear that while many companies were treading water in 2020, they will have to take steps to move forward this year. Research by CFO has found that nearly half of senior finance executives say that the pandemic failed to halt their global expansion plans, or merely delayed them by less than a year. 2021 will be the year where companies must embrace the new world of work – and technology that supports flexible working models will play an important part of making that happen.
There are four key areas where technology can make a difference:
1. Smart Data
Data has become the lifeblood of business in so many ways, and its importance in defining the workplace of the future is rising. At a time when more employees will be working in a variety of different locations at different times – fully office-based, fully remote, or more likely a blend of the two – data is critical to keeping business operations running smoothly.
Data-driven insights can help organizations understand how workstations and meeting rooms are used: who uses each one, how often they’re booked for, and whether they’re being under-utilized or just can’t cope with demand. This information can be used to make quick, effective changes to workplace layouts, scaling different types of workspace up or down to suit the needs of the workforce.
As hybrid working models increasingly come to the fore, employees must be able to seamlessly pivot from working remotely to working in the office, and back again, as many times as they want. Given the impact that the pandemic has had on many employees’ mental health, giving them this freedom is crucial for safeguarding their well-being.
Workspace management and scheduling can be inter-connected within a single solution, where every single meeting room, breakout zone, workstation and employee has their own schedule within the platform. This means each employee can feel confident that they can get the workspaces they need when they need them, and feel trusted by their employer to get their jobs done in a way that works for them.
Of course, very few employees work entirely independently, and how they’re able to converse and collaborate with their co-workers is an essential part of how a company operates. So whether they’re in the office at home, they need to be able to come together without any difficulty or inconvenience.
With a reputable workspace scheduling solution, each employee can see everyone else’s schedules, so that they can book meetings at times that are mutually suitable for every attendee. They can then go on to secure the right meeting room for their requirements: one that can accommodate every physical attendee, and one that is equipped with the correct video conferencing tools for virtual attendees to connect. All this can be done by any employee in moments from their home office, or even from a mobile app if they’re on the move.
Employees don’t just want an environment that supports their work-life balance and their productivity – they want one that is safe, too. Every member of a workforce has a right to know that their employer is taking the appropriate steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 when they’re attending the office, irrespective of their vaccination status. This is especially important as businesses move towards shared workstations which will be used by several different employees at different times.
To help, sanitization time can be integrated to workspace management solutions: periods of time can be blocked off for booking before and after each use, and cleaning staff can be automatically notified of which workspaces they need to clean and then. These sanitization periods can then clearly be shown within a workspace’s schedule, giving employees vital peace of mind that the workstation or meeting room they intend to book is clean and safe.