Over the last year, technology has been deployed at scale to accommodate the remote workforce and the digital workplace. Organizations have needed to adapt by supplying devices to their employees or allowing them to use their own devices (Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD programs). But what does this mean for your business and the future of technology?
With the help of the Executive Leaders Network (ELN), we gathered executive delegates from all over the UK to have a meaningful conversation about how different organizations have been navigating possible obstacles over the last year and what possible next steps are looking like for different businesses and industries.
Navigating rapid changes
With the arrival and spread of COVID-19, businesses had to revisit their office technology workflows to execute their digital transformation — and quickly. Though some businesses had already been transitioning into a hybrid or remote workplace and had some of the beginning ‘building blocks’ in place, not all companies were as fortunate.
Suddenly teams and departments were forced to make the transition to fully remote work with emergency hardware and meetings that were once in person now had to be conducted via Zoom, Microsoft Teams or FaceTime, which posed an entirely new set of questions for teams responsible for information security and IT administration around security and compliance.
As we find ourselves moving through and beyond the pandemic, however, how can businesses take these questions and pain points to create workflows for the future? One of the main topics at the roundtable was how we can apply what we’ve learned to creating a new-and-improved modern workplace. But what does that look like?
At home, in the office or both?
What was initially a panicked rush to get employees online remotely is now what many businesses see as an opportunity to improve and grow in the digital space. One notable point from the discussion was also the shift of how business leaders were viewing technology. What, for some organizations, seemed like an uphill battle when getting leadership on board with new technology, is now much easier as industries see the need for keeping up to date with workplace technology.
Some also found that creating new workflows, like zero-touch deployment strategies, was not only pandemic-friendly, but was a huge time-saver for their IT teams and was definitely something that would continue in the future. This, along with the ability to provide employees with their required apps and tools were key in making sure that everyone could access exactly what they need, when they needed it. The ability to connect with global colleagues the same way as with local colleagues had also created a new dynamic for international collaboration.
With this rapid digital transformation we had all proven that remote working is possible and doesn’t have to mean a drop in productivity, so why do we need a location strategy or specific office locations?
With everyone together in one space again, employees can get the social interaction they desire, while also being able to spontaneously collaborate and, for supervisors, getting back the ability to actually walk around to support their teams again. But with these in-person perks come the in-person pain points as well, such as having to commute again and trying to maintain social distancing and sanitization protocols, which also can impact efficiency.
Because an entirely remote workforce or entirely in-office workforce each have their own pros and cons, a majority of businesses agree that a hybrid model will be the future of workplace culture and technology in order to get the best of both worlds. But what would this look like?
Offering flexibility in the future
Different clients, employees and teams have different needs and providing a hybrid work environment for their workforce could best help meet these needs in the future.
For example, with a hybrid model, businesses can have on-site IT available, but can also reduce infamous “walk-ups” and large volumes of help desk tickets by implementing a Self Service portal where employees are empowered to help themselves first instead of always needing assistance from IT. Organizations can also keep the deployment and onboarding workflows they established during the pandemic, but can add an extra ‘human element’ to provide a truly exceptional experience. This is also a bonus for HR teams, since they can recruit both on location as well as remotely, because they know that no matter where their employees are, they’ll be getting the same, frictionless onboarding experience.
Considering choice programs
By filling the gaps of both the remote and in-person office experiences, employees can choose the environment that allows them to be the most productive. Speaking of letting employees choose, BYOD programs and employee choice programs were also a key topic of discussion when envisioning the future of empowering employees and a majority of delegates agree that establishing these kind of programs is a business trend that’s continually on the rise, especially after this past year. Not only is this option popular with business leaders, but the concept of employee choice programs also correlate with improved employee satisfaction.
Many organizations are looking to set up employee choice programs for specific teams and roles within their workforce, such as iOS developers getting the option of Apple devices or teams that work in the field being able to choose mobile devices that are more portable for their daily use. With the availability of more mobile devices, however, it’s also important for businesses to ensure that those devices are properly secured, no matter where they’re being used and without impacting the end-user experience.
So, what can we take away from this forward-thinking roundtable discussion? It all boils down to choice and flexibility. These concepts are not going away any time soon and business leaders of all industries recognize that those who don’t adopt a tech-first, flexible approach to their office and workplace technology have struggled over the past year and things will only likely get more difficult as years pass. This means it’s more important than ever to make sure the technology and workflows in your own organization are ready to keep up with what the future has in store.
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