A lot has changed in how we work and business leaders are unanimously realising that employee well-being and performance are inextricably interlinked. Most organisations recognise that they need to adopt technological advancements, manage the balance between alleviating employee stress, supporting individuals in isolation, and preventing staff exhaustion. Also, promoting a better work-life balance and enhanced productivity at work has gained more precedence than before.
More than a quarter into 2021 and companies are consistently devising effective ways to integrate well-being into work, creating a sense of stability and safety for the workforce. There have been several significant changes and most organisations quickly restructured working arrangements as the year has progressed. This began with remote working while providing flexibility, conducting programs for the physical, mental and financial well-being of teams, and implementing safety and sanitation protocol.
Companies also actively began incorporating several digital collaboration platforms, applying contact tracing strategies and adopting socially responsible conduct to walk the tightrope between taking care of their employees and sustaining their business during the economic meltdown.
How can companies build a sustainable future and manage transformation?
So how do organisations continue to function effectively as 2021 evolves? Organisations realise that they have a lot riding on in the coming year and that it is more important than ever to be up to speed with emerging workplace trends.
To help individuals and organisations normalise and thrive, we decided to identify emerging workplace trends to look out for in 2021. We believe that these can help clarify a path that organisations can follow to facilitate a smoother transition, enhance productivity, and build a sustainable future.
Actively support remote work and hybrid work models
A sustainable remote/virtual work structure has proved to be a powerful tool that can help individuals, teams, businesses and organisations work, live and thrive. Several organisations (especially technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google) have announced that their employees could continue to work from anywhere they want in the future.
This mindset shift in allowing people to work from anywhere has led to the adoption of new technologies and the establishment of new virtual meeting norms and work schedules. To beat the challenges of enterprise-level AV collaboration when people are working from home as well as from the office, several digital collaboration platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, and Slack have been gaining massive popularity and implementation across businesses of all sizes.
Remote work along with the hybrid work model is now a normalised practice. Businesses have been able to incorporate smart AV integrations into their work spaces and workflows. This has opened the door to new forms of seamless collaboration, enhanced productivity and fruitful communication between those who are remote participants and others who form the team of in-office employees.
Adoption of new tools even in basic workspaces
Most individuals at the workplace have been struggling to adapt to the new set of increased responsibilities at work and in their lives. However, there are several new tools that can help them in this new era of work and can help them become more effective even in the most basic WFH spaces.
As people continue to work remotely and in hybrid scenarios, there will be greater emphasis on higher-quality cameras and microphones for better video and audio quality. To keep up with the work demands of the current times, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade from standard-issue laptop gear. And while that’s happening, it will be time to upgrade meeting rooms with human-scale displays that make far-end participants feel a sense of belonging and help create a more inclusive collaboration environment.
There is a consistent upsurge in the popularity of several remote work tools for project management, collaboration, organisation of tasks and business continuity among distributed teams. This has tremendously helped in boosting flexibility, facilitating client service and interaction in the absence of in-person interaction, while showing solidarity with the workforce in a time of crisis.
Integration of cloud-based conferencing and clever control systems
The proliferation of cloud video conferencing platforms within the enterprise has been accelerated by the work-from-home movement in the past year. Now that organisations have embraced Cloud VC or widened its usage, it makes sense for them to incorporate it into their room based collaboration infrastructure also.
Most organisations have existing meeting spaces – from humble huddle rooms to state of the art boardrooms, multi purpose rooms, training spaces and townhalls which can benefit from smooth and seamless integration of cloud-based conferencing. What this requires however, is some additional hardware (certified devices with built in support for your platform) and clever control systems programming on the back end. This allows room users to continue experiencing the intuitive and seamless experiences that enterprise collaboration spaces offer, with the flexibility and lower costs of video using Cloud VC platforms (like Zoom, MS Teams etc).
One of the other benefits that it brings for all users in a hybrid work model is that they are able to transition smoothly from their WFH environment to the in-office and in-room work environments. This is made possible thanks to the familiar user interfaces for video calling, and also perhaps supplemented by the use of Unified Communications tools that enable broader collaboration across various channels.
Automation will streamline workplace and workforce interaction
Due to social distancing and safety norms, people are going to be mindfully distant avoiding physical contact at work.
In such a scenario, AV technologies like wireless presentation systems, equipping office spaces with room occupancy sensors, enabling access card-based touchless solutions, following safety protocol, tight integration of several audio-video collaboration solutions in meeting spaces and fortifying cybersecurity, will be some of the practices and tools which will cumulatively create a safe, secure and stable work environment.
To ensure daily tasks are run smoothly, several automation processes will be in place. By using technology to automate repetitive, manual processes, the workflow would be significantly streamlined. Whether it is collaborating, training or sharing ideas, workplace automation software will help teams work together and better. This also means that proper training would be required, as automation will need human guidance and control. It will be crucial for organisations to fill the skill gap by training their employees to work alongside new automated processes.
As opposed to a common misconception work automation would not turn human labour redundant, instead, it would provide support, by reducing the physical strain and facilitating effective use of time and skill for the employees.
Empower employee engagement with Unified Communications
While video collaboration has emerged as the most powerful tool in remote work models, the requirements of enterprise collaboration extend beyond just meetings themselves.
With displaced members of teams working across different scenarios, organisations are looking at Unified Communications platforms as a broader solution. This encourages employees to communicate from wherever they may be located, and with whoever they need to across the organisations’ departments and teams. It provides a wider suite of tools for collaboration such as instant messenger which allows them to access consistent communication even when video calling is not possible or necessary. It also allows them to share files, links and information in other formats that are required for collaboration friendly workflows.
The single point interface provided by unified communications platforms goes a long way in letting teams share and view information smoothly and makes it simpler and quicker to provide feedback from wherever they are.