Are you firefighting or strategic thinking?
In this article, we explore the technology trends and opportunities you need to focus on now and in the future
Are you focused on maintaining ‘business as normal’ and keeping your teams productive or are you starting to think about what you need to support your business in the long term? For businesses of all sizes worldwide, the pandemic has proved the critical role that technology plays as a major enabler to keep organisations sufficiently adaptable, yet on track.
Excellent leadership demands a balance of short term and long term vison. In the short term we need to protect our workforce and our revenue streams, and in parallel with this we need to forge a longer-term view of organisational direction. We need to strategise around future possibilities to ensure we keep options open for different opportunities, depending on the variety of contexts that could arise.
Short term considerations
- Identify staff & teams who want or require a partial return to the office. This should be considered from many angles such as maintaining business continuity and productivity but also supporting staff well-being and creating suitable home working environments.
- Identify ways to support hybrid meetings or learning environments. – Audio conferencing systems like the Nureva audio family enable whole room pick-up to support hybrid meetings whilst maintaining social distancing. Additionally, having a solution that is scalable will be key when creating a flexible workplace that supports activity-based working. The HDL200 and HDL300 can be deployed easily across any room type of up to 15 m x 9 m.
- Identify tools to maintain remote staff wellbeing – the health and support of your staff are extremely important – think surveys, hybrid video calls & advanced video conferencing systems like Flabba.
- Address workplace design and building occupancy – there are lots of physical changes that can be made and considered for the workplace, such as screens and one-way systems. Whilst these are preventative measures, they do not enable a business to truly manage and maintain social distancing. The only way of achieving this whilst ensuring corporate responsibility is to manage the total occupancy of the office. The simplest way of doing this is implementing desk booking and visitor management – the GoBright desk booking system can help with this.
Once short term considerations have been implemented it will be crucial for organisations to begin long term planning – integrating the right tools now for future expansion.
Long term strategic considerations
- Consider what percentage of staff will remain partially or fully remote – the pandemic has highlighted that many people are able to competently work from home. Depending upon individual circumstances this could prove to be highly advantageous to both the individual and the company. However, as workplaces move towards a partial return to the workplace the correct technology becomes critical to maintain business continuity, productivity and relationships.
- Supporting new ways of working, including agile – before the pandemic, agile working was already becoming established as a way of offering those in the office access to the right tools for their job as well as flexibility to work from anywhere. The role of the business is to identify the tools, technology and physical environments that can support long-term collaboration and productivity with an estimated percentage of the workforce remaining remote. Key examples of how technology can help include Nureva audio and visual collaboration tools.
- Enhance the workplace experience – in the future employees will no longer just come to the office because they are told to do so. Organisations need to provide environments that are welcoming, safe and highly collaborative with access to technologies and tools that are unavailable to a remote worker. This ranges from smart workplace experiences where the employee is able to choose how/ where they work and find their colleagues through to providing visibility of important workplace metrics such as air quality, desk availability and occupancy.
- Don’t guess, capture data – at the start of the pandemic many businesses deployed unified communication and video conferencing solutions at scale. Throughout 2021 as workforces return to the office smart businesses will deploy technology that captures real-time occupancy and usage statistics in order to influence strategically important but also highly financially important decisions.
- Ask the right questions – How can we ensure we are offering the right technology and the right flexibility in order to retain and recruit the best staff? How can we change our office environment to encourage staff to return to work for the right reasons and feel safe? How can we change the amount of office space we are currently paying for in order to reduce our overheads without upsetting or demotivating staff? What types of environments will enable our staff and our customers to want to come to the workplace?
Most people have accepted the pandemic has changed the way we work. Although it is important to ensure business continuity and short-term productivity, it is worth thinking longer-term and strategically considering much bigger questions to ensure that your organisation is sustainable and future-proof/fit for the future.
Some of our recommendations include providing high-quality but also highly scalable video conferencing solutions. Ideally, these also need to offer flexibility regarding the platform that is being utilised for the video call rather than tying the user to one platform. Investing in smart workplace technology solutions to support desk booking, room booking, wayfinding and digital signage and more in order to ensure the workplace offers the employees flexibility. The workplace should be thought of as a living building and the more data that can be shared with employees the greater the confidence that the business can create to support a long-term return to the office. Finally, but most importantly, businesses need to capture data in an unobtrusive way in order to influence future decisions regarding workplace design and their real estate portfolio. The return on investment that can be achieved by getting these things right could have far-reaching implications both financially and on the ability for a business to grow with the best staff as the economy improves.