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Future of Work: From Surviving to Thriving
For over 18 months, we’ve all experienced a substantial disruption in the way we work. Future of work, hybrid work, remote work, mobile work — these concepts have taken on new meaning in the COVID era, and they’re challenging organizations and their employees in profound ways.
Adam Holtby, principal analyst at research firm Omdia, an Enterprise Connect/No Jitter sister company, tackled these ideas during an Enterprise Connect 2021 session, “Enabling the Hybrid Future of Work” (available on demand for registered attendees). During the session, Holtby shared insights from Omdia’s 2021 Future of Work Survey, highlighting digital workplace objectives businesses must prioritize to improve employee experience and results.
Respond, Adapt, Optimize
Following the sudden disruption of shelter-in-place/work-from-home orders, many enterprise IT leaders needed to react quickly in reformulating communications and collaborating strategies. Missing in the speedy response was strategic planning around how their tool choices, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, would work over the long term, Holtby said. Now that’s changing. “We’re moving to a stage where organizations are optimizing around these changes — embracing new technologies, but also thinking about how work itself needs to transform around things like new mobile and hybrid workstyles,” he said.
This “respond, adapt, optimize” pattern isn’t new, but “the speed at which organizations have been moving through these phases” is, Holtby said. As a whole, he added, they’re looking at securing hybrid work, improving enterprise communications, in addition to measuring and optimizing employee experience and employee wellbeing as long-term transformative objectives.
However, tomorrow’s digital workplace isn’t only about bringing on new technical capabilities or integrating the next set of products. It also requires addressing people issues, Holtby pointed out. Looking ahead, organizations really need to start “investing in capabilities that help them support employees in working from whichever or whatever location they want — without compromises to security,” he said. “It's not only technology that's going to help solve this problem, but organizations also must think about those people elements, the processes that guide the way that work gets done.”
Future of Work Survey
Based on Omdia’s 2021 Future of Work survey, lots of work will once again be taking place in the traditional office, Holtby said. Based on results from a mix of 400 CIO, CFO, IT director, chief digital officer, and HR director responses, Omdia has found:
- 36% of employees — primarily at home or remote-based with minimal time in the office
- 24% — permanently in-office, working at a dedicated desk
- 22% — a hybrid of at least two days a week away from the office
- 18% — work full time in an office but have no assigned desk
Beyond where we can expect to find employees working post-pandemic, the Omdia survey also provided insight on how the shift to remote and hybrid working has affected employee experience and collaboration. Overall, respondents indicated that employee productivity and collaboration had improved, “and even more encouraging,” Holtby said, is that “many organizations have metrics in place to prove this — it wasn’t a guess.”
Going forward, with new technologies coming to market over the next year, organizations will be even better able to understand, measure, and positively influence the employee experience, Holtby said. Given that employee well-being is such a primary focus for organizations, ultimately, organizations must focus on “ensuring that processes and workflows that guide the work that everyone in an organization does are optimized or automated where possible,” he added.
Toward that end, organizations will prioritize their investments for better supporting people with a focus on:
- Improving technical support
- Providing employees with new equipment
- Improving employees’ digital skills
- Adding tools to improve employee experience
- Bringing on new collaboration platforms
Remember, Holtby said, the future of work “isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.” And don’t think you have to go it alone, he added. Digital workplace ecosystems can be confusing with a lot of moving parts, so find a partner that can help your organization integrate new capabilities, map them to business objectives, and help improve people, processes, and technology.