Why pimping the post-pandemic office can power a safe and productive restart
Don’t say it too loudly, but the end just might be in sight.
More than a year after the great ‘work-from-home’ office exodus began, the great vaccine roll-out is finally bringing the next new normal into (slow) focus.
Not a return to the old normal of five-days-a-week, fully-occupied offices [*shiver down spine*].
Not a continuation of the current new normal of five-days-a-week enforced home working [*sigh of relief*].
But a NEW new normal of, say, two days a week in the office and three days working from home or visiting customers.
Sound good? You betcha!
But – as has been the case all along – UC has a big part to play.
Onboarding workforces back into the office won’t just be a case of rebooting idle security passes and refilling the water cooler.
A COVID-secure ‘touchless’ environment, video-equipped smart meeting rooms, and connected-yet- socially-distanced collaborative work zones will feature high on all of the best-designed plans to bring people back.
A hybrid mix of putting safety first whilst simultaneously leveraging the latest tech in order to permanently reset the way in which our physical offices operate.
All beautifully unified, naturally.
“We’re already having conversations with customers about how their new office will look and work,” says James Spencer, Video Collaboration Lead at global unified audio and video vendor Jabra, which is on the front foot in this latest UC call to action.
“Post-pandemic onboarding will go hand-in-hand with physical office remodelling. Office environments will be better than before. They will need to offer workforces a richer experience so that people are encouraged to return”
“We have been involved in the development of touchless schemes in which meeting rooms are video linked with the latest cameras that offer 180-degree fields of view. It means participants can be spread across several rooms to aid social distancing but still feel like they are in one space together.
“There is also a move towards converting meeting rooms into more open-plan collaboration zones, connected via video so that teams are able to communicate effectively whilst being more distanced than they used to be.
“And obviously it all synchs remotely with a significant element of the workforce that we are expecting will continue to work from home or on customer sites as part of the new hybrid approach.”
Another one of Jabra’s clever tricks is to have been involved in the automation of meeting room booking systems to control occupant numbers so that social distancing is maintained. The systems’ resulting data can help HR teams map levels of physical workforce interaction and design smart new workflows.
It all sounds like returning workforces might have a few new tricks to learn before they get to call the ‘new normal’, ‘normal’.
“The last 12 months has meant that we have all become more familiar with video technology,” says Spencer.
“The key is simplicity – the ability to control everything via voice or a mobile phone is a big part of the solution.”
But what about the cost?
“The best CEOs and business owners have workforce welfare and safety at the front of their minds, of course,” says Spencer.
“But it HAS to be about productivity and efficiency too. Better equipped, better connected, more agile and more confident workforces will work better and smarter together and be more productive. The physical space we can save or reconfigure also presents significant real estate downsizing opportunities”
So, nearly time to liberate those forgotten work suits from the back of the wardrobe?
C’mon the vaccine…!