6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Last year, it wasn’t easy for business leaders to make the wisest decisions on behalf of their company and employees under pressure in such a short amount of time. It’s no surprise that there were significant leadership downfalls that resulted in damaging mistakes in response to the agile nature of COVID-19. What many executive leadership and management teams failed to recognize is that these blunders had long-term effects on every aspect of their business, which is still felt now over one year later.
Some of these considerations included strong opinions that the open office is the only answer and that every employee must be in the office, as well as failing to equip every conference room with video conferencing technology. Now, we can take the guesswork out of it because the technology we are integrating is not just working for our customers and colleagues, it’s actually giving us data, and providing feedback and actionable items to prepare for the next wave of the future of work. This wave has given us the ability to analyze what’s next and what did or didn’t work in order to make decisions based on that.
There has certainly been an element of trial and error, as executives have attempted to steer their businesses in the right direction and navigate through the hardships of the pandemic. However, when put in the precarious position to make critical decisions at the drop of a hat, would you blame most of these businesses? There are many lessons that can be learned from this past year, and it’s important to point out some of the missteps.
So, the question then becomes: What are we doing to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again? Follow along for my breakdown below.
Equip employees with smart technology
The office and the technology you implement must drive purpose for employees to come into the office and be able to support them wherever they may be. The solutions need to create a unified and desirable workplace experience, as well as help executives make intelligent workplace decisions down the road.
Executives are putting data gathering tools into their offices, including cloud-computing services, different types of sensors (e.g., motion sensors, people counting sensors, and presence sensors), and more. Cloud-computing services can actually deliver workplace analytics and enable teams to gather data and understand how spaces are being used, and by how many people. The services also let organizations gather actionable usage data with no programming, so they can optimize people, space, and technology to create an intelligent workplace. Sensors can measure everything from motion to the amount of people occupying a space to whether a space is being used. This type of technology helps companies gather data to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and understand workflows.
The notion that all employees must be in the office is now a thing of the past. If an employee can effectively perform his or her job responsibilities at home and are equipped with the right WFH solutions, companies should consider allowing them to work in a hybrid or fully remote capacity. Gauging both the comfort level and performance of your workers should help determine the best workplace strategy and arrangement moving forward.
Deliver a new level of scalability
The COVID transformation has led to IoT and AI implementation. IoT and AI are being used by businesses today in a variety of ways, such as in smart automation, decision analytics, product optimization, evaluating purchasing behavior, and so much more. In the workplace, devices must be connected to get real-time feedback and the more there are, the higher the chance of failure, and they must be managed for up-time. AI is now utilized since rooms and spaces need to come to life and react to non-touch stimuli. In addition, cloud-computing services give IT teams the ability to fully implement an IoT strategy and elements like AI and manage them. It also enables IT teams to oversee the massive increase in devices and technology and support it.
It’s clear that hybrid work is causing a huge proliferation of devices, but IT teams aren’t scaling the same way to support it. Adjusting workflows based on the reality of this new workload is important. Scaling is beyond adding more people. Don’t look at the scalability of IT teams. You simply need to implement the proper technology for IT teams to manage devices and this is done using the rolls built into the cloud. They can do the job of six and invest in a lot less capital.
Reimagine the office to support hybrid work
According to a recent survey from McKinsey & Company, “Although nine out of ten executives envision a hybrid model going forward, most have at best a high-level plan for how to carry it out—and nearly a third of them say that their organizations lack alignment on a high-level vision among the top team.” In order to create an efficient workplace for hybrid employees, it is important to take a close look at the office space to determine the best layout moving forward.
Prior to the pandemic, each desk space was assigned to an employee, but nowadays, this is changing. Hybrid workers will no longer have assigned desks and there will be stringent cleaning protocols in place. The office layout will look a lot different and new technologies will be incorporated to create a consistent experience everywhere. Companies should provide employees with the same UC technologies across the board to create seamless collaboration capabilities. Regardless of where an employee sits, they’ll need an identical experience. This will help your business retain top-notch talent and ensure that workflows are steady and efficient.
Fundamentally, businesses will have a much more productive and efficient workplace if executives begin shifting their mindsets to the new reality and implement technologies that will spur intelligent decision-making. We can’t predict what’s going to happen next, but what we can do is prepare for whatever comes our way.