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The Future Workplace in an Uncertain World: How Can Businesses Adapt?

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Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India

In the last decade, innovations in digital connectivity, coupled with employee demands for flexible working conditions, have inspired a re-evaluation of the traditional business model. Many companies are now embracing a culture that welcomes remote working to increase productivity and staff morale – a trend never more so under the spotlight than now as millions are working from home to contain COVID-19.

Technology is empowering unprecedented collaboration in the workplace and has revolutionised the way that colleagues and clients communicate and share data with each other. A recent Barco ClickShare survey backs this up, revealing that 78% of employees strongly support tech-enabled meetings that enable the participation of remote joiners. This trend enables efficient cross-collaboration between colleagues, regardless of geographical locations, ensuring the sustainable spread of globalisation and international business practices.

While the pandemic has generated an enforced mass movement to working from home, employees who have been in lockdown for several weeks are now beginning to crave the human contact that an office environment provides. In a post-virus world, businesses will better understand the benefits of a remote structure but will, more likely, want to adopt a hybrid approach that mixes office-based work and home working more fluidly. This approach delivers the physical interaction that humans need to thrive, with the convenience and flexibility of remote working.

 

The ability to reduce the number of employees based centrally by implementing flexible working has additional benefits. Office space can be reduced to accommodate a less permanently based workforce, while most workers can be spread across multiple locations where they often have more immediate access to clients and suppliers. This fluid approach to remote working also lends itself to the popular and expanding freelance economy where workers are brought in as and when required, in response to market demands. Contractors largely work from home as they are a temporary workforce and readily engage with technologies that enable remote collaboration.

With the explosion of personal device ownership, employees welcome the opportunity to interact with colleagues using their preferred technology and software solutions. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture has resulted in a growth in efficiency as it delivers a more agile workforce, where employees can use their own devices to connect to myriad conferencing systems in meetings or remotely. Indeed, Barco’s study showed that 71% of employees are already selecting their own preferred conferencing system to communicate with co-workers, with, on average, six different conferencing solutions being used by companies in the past six months.

As the BYOD – or in this case, Bring Your Own Meeting – trend increases, companies must adopt agnostic solutions that facilitate seamless collaborations between multiple software and cloud-based technologies.

Another key priority for organisations is security as sensitive data is being transferred across networks and being accessed by external devices. With the right technology, adequate security measures and training of employees, the risks can be mitigated. There are strong cyber safeguards that can be implemented to protect company networks and safeguard the integrity of the devices logging in. IT systems can protect themselves from cyberattacks by ensuring that appropriate identification and authorisation steps are taken during set-up and all transferred data is encrypted. Remote device management software can mitigate the risk of unauthorised access from stolen or lost personal devices.

Although technology is often seen as the bastion of a younger workforce, Barco’s study revealed that employees of all ages are looking to technology to deliver positive changes in the workplace. Barco’s survey shows that 74% of people across all ages feel confident about the wider use of technology to improve engagement and collaboration among colleagues. Organisations will need to factor this in when developing workplace technology strategies and ensure they communicate with employees to better understand their specific needs so they can deliver tailored solutions to enable their workforce to perform their duties.

The disruption to normal working life from COVID-19 has been huge, and technology has become even more vital in these trying weeks and months. But it must be remembered that these trends were happening long before COVID-19; we have been moving to flexible, remote working and towards more virtual collaboration for some time now. However, as people return to work post lockdown, many more will appreciate the benefits of being able to collaborate remotely and will expect a revised structure where remote working plays a bigger role in their working week. Businesses must ensure they are future proofed to enable them to adapt to and embrace everything that technology brings in this area. By providing a flexible working model empowered by powerful digital collaboration tools, companies can give their employees the best possible chance of doing their job effectively and productively – no matter what the future holds.


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