9 April 2020

Has COVID-19 changed the future of work forever?

We’ve all seen the memes floating around social media – the ongoing pandemic has changed the way we work in more ways than one. From finding a suitable setup at home to finding new ways to collaborate with our colleagues, the transition has not been easy. But organizations all over the world have had to activate their business continuity plan and implement or enable new information technologies to allow millions of employees to carry out their daily tasks from home productively. Between 2005 and 2019, the number of people who work from home increased by 140%, is this number set to increase further? When we eventually do flatten the COVID-19 curve and life (hopefully) goes back to normal, would the way we work be transformed forever?

Credit: Instagram (spaceboycantlol)

Here are some trends I expect to see when offices resume operation:

Flexibility of space

As employees become more comfortable with ‘Working from Home’, the concept becomes common practice and flexible workspaces an even bigger trend than it is today. The use of IoT sensors will become imperative for organizations who want to make the most out of their space. Transparency into space utilization data will enable tenants and owners alike to determine how many square meters is really required. The ability to make data-driven occupancy planning decisions and improve business processes may lead the need for commercial real estate to shrink and in the long run, improving their bottom line.

IoT enabled security

In the past week, I have seen many security guards deployed to the entrance of buildings where they are tasked to count the number of visitors who have entered. This was due to a policy which limited the number of people per square meter of space in relation to social distancing. By integrating access control with IoT sensors, we would be able to better manage people flow. Think of how the flow of cars is managed within car parks – the barrier only lifts when there are parking spaces available. The same principle can be applied to building visitors with access only allowed if the threshold has not been reached. A similar approach can be used across different types of buildings – shopping centers, supermarkets or even banks.

People-centric solutions

When offices do open their doors again, it is likely that many precautionary measures will be put in place to ensure the health and safety of employees. Contact tracing has become imperative to the control of the virus and could very well become the new norm in office buildings. IoT sensors would be able to trace the trails people have taken if required, within the boundaries of the law and personal data protection. This could also prove to be useful as work becomes more decentralized and employees need a workplace app to locate their team members’ location or determine who is in the office or working remotely.

Making working remotely productive and secure

As the trend for decentralized teams grow, organizations will have to ensure they have the right IT infrastructure and tools in place to enable remote work. The need for secure solutions and platforms is essential. This includes tools which enable employees to collaborate effectively and securely, whilst ensuring ease of use. Organizations which have not already done so will need to move away from using consumer software and will have to invest in enterprise solutions which allow greater productivity and ensure cybersecurity.

As working from home becomes a new norm, organizations should start to embrace it and take advantage of this opportunity to reassess their office spaces and employee adaptation. The COVID-19 situation today is still very unpredictable – but what is certain is that organizations now have the chance to be well-prepared and equipped with the right infrastructure in place.  It seems like COVID-19 has indeed been the catalyst which will transform the way offices around the world operate. This could very well be an opportunity to redefine the future of work.

What are some trends you see for the future of work?
If you’re looking for a partner to enable the workplace of the future, let’s get in touch: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-anthony-9179a71

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