Never before have we seen such a rapid and wholescale shift to home working. Now the question is – how will working patterns look for the long-haul, even as restrictions are eased and offices reopen?
Opinions, of course, vary – but there does seem to be a shared agreement that work will never quite go back to how it was before. First, social distancing guidelines, whilst less strict and rigid than they were, are still likely to be in place for many months. This means that practices such as hotdesking, meetings with dozens of individuals crowded around a single table and communal kitchens will all have to be rethought – to say nothing of the commuting which actually gets employees to and from their workplaces.
Second – and this is no less important – in many cases, the home working enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic has actually taught organisations and employees alike that a more flexible approach to where work is carried out does not harm productivity – it can even enhance it. Surely, even as something approaching normal operations resume, many of those employees will be keen to continue harnessing the benefits of this flexibility.
Here, then, are some of the permanent changes we might expect to see to working practices after COVID-19
Flexible working patterns. Expect to see far greater demand for flexible working patterns, whereby individuals choose to start earlier or later, complete hours at the weekends, work compressed hours, and work from home far more frequently. Organisations that can facilitate this flexibility will become employers of choice, whilst rigid working schedules will seem increasingly old-fashioned.
Decentralised offices. Social distancing is incompatible with many offices, purposefully designed to fit as many workers in the space as efficiently as possible. Whilst staggered shifts and rota systems will help, many organisations are likely to shift to ‘hub and spoke’ models with multiple satellite offices. Some of these will be better served by co-working spaces or serviced offices than traditional business premises.
Virtual meetings. COVID-19 has forced individuals and organisations alike to see what the providers of videoconferencing and collaboration tools were telling them all along – effective collaboration and group decision-making are perfectly possible when the parties are geographically distant. In turn, this saves a great deal of time and money on travel, with all the wellbeing and environmental benefits that it entails.
All this means that forward-thinking organisations should be considering now how their enterprise technology could best enable this future of work. Many businesses were caught on the back foot when forced to implement home working as a result of the pandemic – now, there is the time and space to take a more strategic approach.
There are a few different dimensions to consider. Managed services – the proactive monitoring and maintenance which is critical to keep many enterprise IT infrastructures running smoothly – will have to be extended and amended to take account of far more remote workers. On top of this, cloud-based delivery models will become more important than ever before, enabling staff to access critical data and applications wherever they are.
Smart IT is working at the forefront of these innovations, delivering managed services to support home workers and ensuring the same seamless ERP experience in the office and at home, thanks to Odoo. So, if your organisation needs to do some work in order to adapt to this future of work,