By Mark Benson
As we approach (fingers crossed!!!) the return to some sense of normality with businesses reopening and social distancing being softened, the debate on what work will look like going forward has started in earnest. Recently the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, called for an end to working from home and allow staff back into offices or risk them voting with their feet and quitting; this at the same time as Jon Lewis, the boss of Capita telling 35,000 staff they can work from home permanently if they want. Capita is just one of a number of key companies saying that they will be giving their employees the choice of where they want to work from, whether that be at home or in an office. We are all now comfortable working from home and the roles that were always perceived to be office-based roles have been remotely working for the past 12 months, so why is there a need to change?
For the government it is all about kick starting the economy, after all we do have some hefty debts that have accumulated over the last 12 months. When people are in offices, they will use public transport, visit local businesses for lunch and beverages and socialise with colleagues on an evening - so I do get this argument. But the government is only coming at this from their perspective and not from that of the worker. I, like most, am looking forward to meeting people again, having that buzz of the office and socialising with colleagues, but I like the choice flexible working gives me. People have now tasted home working and the thought of commuting an hour on a busy train does not float any one’s boat.
So, what is the future of work? Well like almost everything we are talking about now, it is Hybrid. Work is not a location, it is something we do, and the key factor is being able to do your job from any location on any device, securely and performantly. Therefore, businesses and organisations need to look at the future of work for their business. Start by looking at the lessons learned over the last 12 months (has it really been that long?!): how did the remote working solutions perform; did they meet the business needs for business continuity? Where were the gaps in performance, security, collaboration and automation? One thing that we have learnt over the last 12 months is that all the previous ‘office-based’ roles can be conducted remotely and have operated really well, so remote working is for all, no longer the management and sales.
By carrying out this analysis it will give you a short-term roadmap for the future of work and also gives you some time to look at what the future requirements are going to be. Before the world was tipped on its head, we were all running around 24/7 complaining we never had enough time, so it would be remiss of us to not use the remediation time for planning. The planning should not only be isolated to IT; yes, the lessons learned will probably have given IT several new projects, but the future of work needs to come from the CEO down and involve all areas of a business. Organisations need to be asking themselves:
- What changes do we need to make to our business continuity plans so we are ready for the next big challenge?
- What role is the office going to play in the future and do we need all of the real estate we have? Also how do we need to evolve the office space to be more hybrid in nature?
- What business processes do we need to adapt to embrace the new way of working?
- What technology investments do we need to make to encourage remote collaboration and to retain and attract talent?
- What new roles do we need within the business as we start to move into the new hybrid working model?
- Do we have the adequate security in place to support a hybrid workforce?
The one good thing about the pandemic has shown us is that there is a better way of working and that we can all operate remotely, but we all want to have the option of the returning to a workspace and human interaction. By planning and getting the future of work right, we will all be a lot happier employees that have the right work life balance.
Logicalis are here to help you choose the right option for your business. If you would like to speak to one of our experts to discuss your workforce transformation, please get in touch today: firstname.lastname@example.org.