When the pandemic hit, the tech that enabled WFH productivity became business-critical. Now, people are going back to the workplace. But many don’t want to return to their pre-pandemic setups. Almost half of employees want a hybrid work model that splits their week between on-site and remote workdays.
A successful transition to hybrid work requires investment. Gartner recently forecasted that worldwide IT spending will grow 6.2% in 2021. As companies focus on making their hybrid models work, Gartner predicts that spending on enterprise software will grow 8.8%. With bigger budgets and a different model of work to support, let’s explore three trends IT teams must focus on to support employees in the workplace.
Trend 1: Technology that supports hybrid work
With fewer people on-site, companies need to be thoughtful about how to use their space. Today, they can design every aspect of the workplace with purpose, based on data. In the past, companies used many disjoined technologies to access data on how people use the workplace—if they could access it at all. Now they can get key metrics from a single workplace platform. And they can use these metrics to make data-driven decisions about their space.
For example, we conducted an analysis of more than 220,000 desk bookings. It revealed that about half of companies have at least one desk that makes up 10% of total bookings. Workplace platform data can also reveal underused desks so admins can make better use of their existing space or cut real estate costs.
Under hybrid work, teams also need new ways to collaborate with employees who are remote and on-site. This starts with installing high-quality audio and video in every meeting room. Folks who are remote have computers with built-in cameras and noise-canceling headsets. On-site, 360-degree cameras create the experience of in-person participation for remote employees. Video conferencing tools like Zoom allow attendees to join meetings from any device. Platforms like Google Workspace make it easy to create meetings, communicate, and work from anywhere.
Trend 2: Technology that promotes health and safety in the workplace
A hurdle many companies face today is enticing employees back to the workplace. Concerns about health and safety at work remain high: 66% of people worry about returning on-site. To encourage employees to return, companies need to consider their psychological safety as well as physical.
This starts with investing in tech that keeps people safe in the workplace. Space management tools can track workplace density and keep people a safe distance apart. These tools also provide analytics that monitor how employees use the workplace. Companies can use this information to optimize their space for health and safety.
Tools that enable hands-free experiences are more commonplace. Touchless sign-in, access control, and infrared temperature screenings are a few examples. Environmental, health, and safety (EHS) management software can help companies record workplace-related accidents, improve prevention strategies, and follow OSHA regulations.
These technologies play a big role in ensuring employees feel safe in the workplace. But to make sure employees are at ease, companies should couple these technologies with practices like clearly marked collaboration areas and safety-focused workplace policies.
Trend 3: Omnichannel, device-agnostic workplace technology
Today, workplace technology is less about being “always-on.” It’s more about being “on” when and where you need to be. Employees want technology to be as intuitive and device-agnostic as their personal apps. They want to be able to work from anywhere, on any device they have available.
IT leaders must respond by looking at technology across the enterprise. They need to move away from disjointed point solutions and take an omnichannel approach to workplace technology. The result is a smarter, more secure workplace that uses integrated technologies to provide a seamless employee experience.
IT must shift its focus. Instead of focusing on siloed projects, they must create solutions that deliver real business outcomes. Their solutions should encourage people to work on-site and engage in workplace culture. IT can measure its success by tracking employee productivity, sentiment, and attendance in the workplace.
Work and the technology that enables it is always changing. But no one could have prepared for how fast workplace technology would have to change when the pandemic hit. Enterprises had to accelerate their move to the cloud and adopt technologies that support hybrid work, and think holistically about the workplace experience. They’ve also had to examine how to keep their businesses safe in an era of work where every device is a possible threat to security.
IT leaders play a critical role in ensuring employees are set up for success and their companies remain secure. And that role will only become more important as work continues to evolve and the workplace of the future takes shape.