The post-pandemic destination is flexibility

Read the POV from IDC Enterprise Applications on why now is the era of workplace resiliency

By | 3 minute read | April 6, 2021

Woman in empty office

What will be the most enduring workplace change? The widespread adoption of remote work models. Some of us never want to go back to an office, while others yearn for their social aspect. Most people fall somewhere in between and desire choices. According to IDC’s Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey (February 2021), 49% of organizations expect remote work will now be an embedded part of their work practices. Globally, this is the number one anticipated permanent workplace and technology change emerging from the pandemic.

However, the IDC survey data, along with discussions we have had with executives across industry sectors, reveals another truth. Organizations are rather disorganized about the next few months when it comes to when, where, and how employees will work remotely moving forward. Many companies are taking a “wait and see” approach as they return to the workplace. Options on the table include:

  • Designating employees as onsite or remote
  • Setting fixed hybrid schedules with designated days onsite
  • Giving employees an ad hoc choice of remote or onsite
  • Working remotely first with some onsite meetings required

Gone are the days of the traditional office, where everyone is in the same place at the same time.  Enter the era of workplace resiliency to handle more fluid situations. The pandemic forced companies to rely more on technology than ever before. Some were more prepared than others.  Organizations now realize they need a digital transformation strategy for facility management, real estate, and workplace experience. To start, focus on the following three areas.

Create a culture of transformation

Shift from tried-and-true systems, like assigned desks, old room booking tools, and paper guest logs, to innovating and experimenting. As of September 2020, 40% of organizations worldwide had already converted or augmented business processes to support “no contact” or “contactless” experiences, according to IDC’s COVID-19 Impact on IT Spending Survey. Automation will be more ubiquitous in all aspects of physical workplaces and digital workspaces.

Foster collaboration in the workplace

Workplaces are moving toward becoming collaboration hubs, as opposed to being a place for focus work. People will need to know they have spaces necessary and resources available to complete the day’s activities. Further, they will want to have access to the right teammates whether in-person or virtually. Align innovative technology deployments, such as mobile applications, the Internet of Things (IoT), and location intelligence, with digital transformation use cases that best support your particular workforce’s needs.

Deliver top-notch occupant experiences

The occupant experience has to be first-rate for people to want to be in a company’s space. These days, that means ensuring the space is clean, with reliable applications for reserving spaces and convenient visitor management systems. As an IDC analyst, I am seeing a surge in interest for wayfinding to help workers, students, customers, patients, or guests efficiently navigate facilities. Indoor mapping becomes a key tool in providing an exceptional experience, especially when occupants are in a space infrequently or use different spaces each visit.

Support digital transformation with a robust set of workplace management tools. Lay the foundation for data-driven decisions and quick actions. Key elements to consider include:

  • Data: Consolidate your maintenance, real estate, and space management data into one place. Link workplace and HR systems to connect worker location and performance to support scheduling and team collaboration.
  • Metrics: Establish space management metrics. Use a combination of existing metrics like employee headcount and space per employee along with new metrics, like percent of hybrid workforce and desired physical distance between desks.
  • Monitoring: Track space utilization real-time and over time to know what is actually happening within the company’s buildings. Organizations are exploring many methods to track this, including badge data, reservation bookings, and IoT solutions based on Wi-Fi, occupancy sensors, or BLE devices.
  • Automation: Enable effective decision-making and automate workflows to act swiftly when something needs a course correction. The way people really use space and how people think they will use space almost always differ.

Plans are just that – plans. How well-prepared is your organization to measure and react to actual work behaviors and space usage? Start executing now on a digital strategy to handle the demands that flexible work models will put on traditional workplaces.

IBM research shows more flexibility in work schedule and location as the top reason people changed jobs in 2020.