With the vaccine roll-out underway and cautious state reopening plans being developed for later this year, now is the time for organizations to start thinking about how best to return to a physical central workplace – if at all. Research from Microsoft recently found that 42% of companies plan on moving their workers from on-site to fully remote roles after COVID-19, and the remaining 58% of respondents will be looking to create a partially remote workforce after COVID-19. Based on this research, there is no scenario for an organization to require 100% of its workers to be on-site.
So how should businesses plan for a successful return to the office, when it appears we no longer need everyone there? Well, unsurprisingly, the hybrid work model – where some employees are on-site while others work from home or other convenient remote locations – is top of mind for business leaders.
In a survey conducted by PwC, most executives expect the hybrid workplace to begin taking shape in the second quarter of 2021 (based on the current projections of the vaccine rollout programs). And we’ve already seen large corporations such as Google announce they will focus on hybrid work models for their employees, where workers would be expected to work at least three days a week on-site and the rest of the time remotely.
A smooth transition from completely remote work to a hybrid arrangement
When industries shut down their physical locations in line with COVID-19 policies in 2020, many businesses faced the need to uproot their organizational processes through the use of digital technologies and business models to improve performance, and most importantly to stay competitive. This digital transformation journey accelerated a deep cultural and societal change that has impacted work as we know it, and so in managing any further disruption to employees’ day-to-day lives, a smooth transition will be needed.
However, the challenge lies in finding the right balance for you. The same PwC research found that 68% of executives believe employees should be in the office at least three days a week to maintain company culture, whereas 55% of the workers interviewed declared that they prefer to continue working remotely at least three days a week.
To work out how best to operationally manage these wants vs needs, it’s worth starting to think now about which employees need to be in the office to successfully perform their work. To do this, you can consider factors such as how much they need to collaborate with others or rapidly exchange information, or whether there are certain teams or projects that will benefit from in-person meetings more than others.
For those returning to offices
Once you’ve worked out the best hybrid approach for you, preparing for a safe and efficient way to bring employees back to work will be key. Comprehensive solutions that support employees’ safe return to office locations and provide ongoing security with facial recognition and access control via cloud-based applications will help make tracking, managing and reporting easier and most importantly, compliant with state requirements. For example, our award-winning COVID-19 Response to Return to Work program is an end-to-end solution that can assist you from installation to support to service. Additionally, it brings peace of mind to business owners and comfort to employees that are already hesitant with the newly re-opening world. And there’s continued value in that the program can grow and evolve with organizations’ needs and ongoing requirements, so there’s always room for augmenting and pivoting.
Peace of mind for remote working
For those who will continue to work remotely, there are a couple of elements to consider to make sure you’re supporting your employees for long-term success. For example, ensuring a secure working environment. While we’d like to think joining a secure VPN is enough to stay protected while working away from the corporate network, there are multiple layers that contribute to an overall security approach. By taking a layered approach to security awareness you can rest easy knowing your business can operate smoothly wherever your employees are located. Our Home Assurance package is designed to provide the layers of security you need to keep your business and employees safe from malicious attacks.
And secondly, don’t forget about your technology needs. Even without IT staff being in the same location as you at all times, you can still build a robust remote working environment that allows true productivity. Our IT Tech Assurance practice can work with you to tailor and customize optimal devices, applications and/or data IT solutions to amplify and accelerate your business operations with the utmost efficiency. We also know that employees miss the ability to easily print and scan documents when away from the office. Consider providing all-in-one printers to those who need to understand conceptual information through a hard format, but with corporate remote cloud monitoring and security built-in to ensure efficiencies are still achieved.
The intelligent connected workplace
Ultimately, the world of work is undergoing exciting changes, and the redefined hybrid workplace will revolutionize what we can achieve together, liberating each of us to be more productive and more creative in our own, unique way. At Konica Minolta, we’re always looking to see how we can equip your workforce with the essential tools to modernize ways of working and unlock greater potential. Find out more at rethinkfutureofwork.com.