Organizations should not only make plans for reopening the office, but they should also be thinking about how to reinvent it.
That was the consensus of three experts at a recent ITWC virtual fireside chat sponsored by LG Business Solutions and LG Gram for Business.
“This has probably been the watershed moment for us to really look at what’s required in order for our people, our employees, the engine of our companies, to be productive and to do so in a sustainable way,” said Paula Allen, SVP research, analytics and innovation at Morneau Shepell.
The participants acknowledged that some benefits have emerged from the rapid transition to working from home caused by the pandemic. Technology adoption has accelerated. Organizations have discovered that a flexible work environment really does work. There is also greater focus on employee well-being.
At the same time, they stressed the importance of preparing for the next phase when offices begin to reopen.
Plan for a hybrid office
The need for physical office space will be unique to each organization, said Daniel Reio, Director, Product & Partner Management (PPM) at CDW Canada. Many employees will want to continue to work from home. But person-to-person still matters to many people.
“There is the general consensus that collaboration and innovation is still, and will always be, best done physically, person to person,” said Reio. “But what is becoming crystal clear the longer companies operate in the new world of work is that the days of maintaining a sea of cubicles are all but finished.”
In this new hybrid environment, organizations will have to make extra effort to ensure that both home and office workers remain engaged. “There is a risk of having the in-office culture and the not-in-the-office culture,” noted Allen.
Develop a return-to-work plan
It’s absolutely essential to have a plan for the return to the office, said Allen. “The more you can engage the people who are going to be the most impacted, the stronger your plan will be,” she said. “It will also make it more realistic and sustainable and people are going to accept it more.”
Providing flexibility to employees builds engagement and reduces stress, Allen said. So far, the experience has shown that “flexibility ends up getting the best out of people.”
Workers need the technology to succeed
Employers don’t have to break the bank on the latest equipment, but they do have to ensure that employees are securely connected over the cloud, said Marc Saltzman, Technology Evangelist. They also have to make sure that the technology is up-to-date and good enough to work fluidly for those people who continually work from home, added Reio.
The panellists also stressed the importance of education on how to use the technology at home. “We need people to be more digitally savvy as a base skill,” said Allen. The organization has to spend some time to make sure that people are truly leveraging technology, said Reio. “Technology is only as good as how you actually use it,” he said.
“LG is very committed to providing innovative technologies that work for you and make your life easier,” said Danielle Chen of LG, who participated in the session. “LG Gram is a great example of this kind of technology.”