The New World Of Work – Redefined Normalcy

From the desk of our CIO, Amy Kim.

Last year was fraught with struggles that no one could fathom we would experience in our lifetime. Not that it is over, but with the distribution of vaccines, many are starting to feel more comfortable with the notion that we are headed towards normalcy. But what does that mean in the post pandemic world? Let us specifically talk about normalcy as it pertains to work. On March 13, 2020, the world of work flipped upside down when almost the entire country went into lockdown and companies were forced to go 100% remote. This affected everyone from the CEO to the new hire that started that week. Many companies were able to maintain “business as usual” for office work related job functions where remote access and laptops were readily available. We all need to thank Zoom for its wondrous product that helped us stay productive and connected through video. But a year in, many have grown tired of two dimensional communication and crave for in person interactions with their colleagues, customers and business partners.

So this brings us to what normalcy in the post pandemic world will look like. The last year has seen a continuous stream of articles and subject matter experts discussing what the office world will look like post pandemic. Among the differing opinions there are some common takeaways that most agree on.

  • 9-5, M-F, same desk, same office will not be the norm.
  • Employees workplace experience will change due to the new standard protocols put on buildings and office space
  • When not at home, employees will go to workspaces  HQ, satellite and regional offices, flex spaces, co-working, etc.) for people interaction not for personal productivity.
  • Employees are more likely to return to the office if companies offer space closer to where employees live

So what is this new world of work going to look like? Well, for one, employees will be going back to work in a hybrid mode. That’s one or two days a week based on office space availability at their original work environment. But what if employees want to go in more often? Will there be enough space whether it is desk or conference room space? The prevailing discussion around hybrid work is that it is binary, home or at one’s designated office. We believe hybrid work means work from anywhere, that includes traditional designated offices as well as regional offices, flex space, co-working space, etc. Second, we believe technology will have to enable further flexibility and efficiency in this new world of work. Employees need to seamlessly and safely access their work environment, whether first or third party space, without having to be concerned about when, how, and where they can access space. Mobile and or biometric access will have to become the standard. Single credentials will have to provide employees access to wherever they want to work. All of this will be necessary to achieve a harmonious workplace experience, anywhere.

Long security lines for building access should not be ruining a seamless curb to office experience. That will only deter employees from returning to an office workplace environment. Employees are going to want a workplace that’s as productive as working from home. Technologies to enable the digitization of the workplace experience from building access, space booking, automated workflows from maintenance/custodial requests or amenity services such as food/supply ordering need to be streamlined to improve efficiency in the post pandemic environment. There’s much ado about vaccines, temperature checking, sanitizers and mask wearing in relation to the back to the office preparations. These are important issues to consider but not long lasting. What will truly define normalcy in the new world of work will be the underlying technological innovations that digitize the analog workplace experience we have, so it can evolve to meet the needs of the new world of work.