Working after Corona: everybody back to the office – or maybe not?

The corona protection measures are gradually relaxed. Shops are opening again; many car manufacturers are ramping up production again and the first students can return to school. Also, among my friends and relatives for some this means back to office again. And yet, some things have changed because “back to office” doesn’t mean “back to normal”. In this blog article I will tell you what has changed and what this means for the requirements for workplaces and offices.

In the newsletter of the German magazine “Computerwoche” I read the first news about a company that does not want to rebuild its full office capacity after the Corona crisis. The crisis has reinforced shared desk development, where not all employees have a permanent workstation. It is also likely that not so many office workplaces will be needed, because the crisis has shown: remote working works. Entire teams and departments were able to work successfully from home, handle projects and develop innovations. This wheel won’t turn back.

Why do employees go to the office?

For us as consultants for digitalised working environments, this raises even more questions: Why should employees go to the office or would want to go to the office at all? Already last year we predicted the development that company buildings will lose their importance as a central place for the provision of services. Our statement at that time was that the added value for employees in the future will rather be that they can meet colleagues in the company building in order to coordinate and discuss with them and develop innovations together as a team (see blog post Strategic approach for future workspaces).
The Corona crisis has made work situations more varied, because in future there will be additional employees who do not want to come to the office or who only want to come on certain dates or only for certain activities.

Challenge for working environments after Corona

The challenge for working environments after the crisis is to meet all the wishes of employees, i.e. to combine the home office with workplaces, meetings and collaboration in the office. The major UCC platforms such as MS Teams, Cisco Webex, Zoom or even Google Meet make this possible. They also offer hardware for meeting rooms and workstations to match their software applications.

The world’s leading trade fair Integrated Systems Europe 2020 in Amsterdam in February showed the latest trends in this area. (see blog post UCC and Smart Meeting: ISE 2020 trends part 1). The growing importance of UCC platforms for presentation technology hardware was already evident here. Different approaches for the integration into communication and work processes of companies and teams were presented. These approaches have now to be extended by a working from home option.

From the emergency solution to a sustainable system

At the beginning of the Corona crisis, many companies made their IT infrastructure fit at short notice, virtually with a crowbar, in order to enable their employees to work from home. Accordingly, some had to struggle with some technical problems at the beginning. The task now is to transform these “emergency solutions” into sustainable systems that are viable in the long term.
Data protection and data security play a role here, but also availability. When employees (partly) return to the office, it is no longer just about software availability and bandwidth, but also about hardware availability in the meeting and collaboration rooms. This was already difficult before the crisis. Everyone surely knows examples of meetings being delayed because technology did not play along. In future, when parts of the meeting participants or the development team are in the home office during a design sprint, it will be even more important that the technology works immediately. This requires operating concepts and operating models with clear processes, structures and responsibilities. Our blog post Managed Services for conference rooms: Who is responsible ?  identified possible solutions to this problem.

Conclusion

Digitisation in German companies has received a huge boost from the Corona crisis. This wheel cannot be turned back and “back to office” is no longer something that every employee will want. As with the “flight” to working from home, the task now is to create the technical prerequisites for digital work to function in a combination of working remotely and office work. The advantage: The measures do not have to be implemented in a hurry because your own employees have to be protected at short notice. Managers and decision makers have more time to adapt the AV/IT infrastructure and work and communication processes sensibly. However, that is necessary. After all, it is no longer just a matter of overcoming a temporary crisis. The hybrid work will remain. In the future, how well it works will determine the efficiency, effectiveness and innovativ

Do you have questions about the further development of your AV/IT infrastructure and your work and communication processes? Just ask, we will be happy to support you.

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Author:

Martin C. Wagner, Head of Marketing macomGROUP

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