The "Next Normal" of Hybrid Working Needs Technology to Reduce Health Risks in the Office and Secure Home Workers, Says IDC

18 Jun 2020

LONDON, June 18, 2020 — Global technology research company International Data Corporation (IDC) has released two new timely documents that help companies to understand and adapt to the "new normal" of the office workplace.

IDC's survey COVID-19 Response in Western Europe Brings the Future of the Workplace Closer (IDC #EUR146289920) provides direct feedback from organizations in Western Europe on what measures they have put in place to enable staff to work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown and to what extent these measures are expected to be maintained in the long term.

The recent lockdown has accelerated many of the trends analyzed by IDC under the "future of work" practice. It has forced companies to facilitate a hybrid office workplace model enabling a large percentage of workers to operate remotely. In this transition, companies encountered many challenges including inadequate and unsecure home internet connections and staff training issues for rapidly introduced home-working solutions.

Having gone through the learning curve, companies clearly intend to maintain a hybrid model going forward.

The survey shows that:

• Over 60% of Western European organizations will keep in place at least some of the newly implemented work-from-home policies.

• Over 40% of them will reduce their office floorspace as a consequence.

In this scenario, however, office managers face the tough task of allowing a safe return to the office. IDC's Market Note COVID-19: Can Smart Workplace Solutions Enable a Safe Return to the Office? (IDC #EUR146468118) offers a glimpse of how large enterprises have gone about their return to the office in Italy and Spain, the first two countries in Western Europe to lift the lockdown.

The document outlines a number of solutions currently available on the market that have the potential to reduce the risk of new outbreaks and make the office both a smarter and safer place.

IDC broadly sees three interesting groups of solutions with each addressing a different set of challenges:

• Staff attendance management solutions are helping companies to control which employees access premises and map how they move throughout the organization. This area has received huge attention following recent news on Android-Apple device interoperability for health applications.

• Social distancing solutions are helping staff to maintain productivity and interaction with colleagues while complying with the many recommendations of health organizations.

• Housekeeping solutions include a wide variety of products currently in high demand that can help to better manage communal areas in offices, in particular UV lighting and touchless technology.

"There's no doubt that the hybrid model will become the norm going forward — the pandemic has only accelerated an ongoing shift," said Mick Heys, vice president, Future of Workspace and Imaging at IDC. "The physical office remains an important but diminished part of the future of the workplace."

Mario Lombardo, associate consultant at IDC, said, "We firmly believe that, in spite of recent developments, the office will continue to play a fundamental role in organizations' futures. Physical space can have a tremendous impact in inspiring staff and enabling companies to imprint their unique corporate values. It generates 'human collisions' and companywide collaboration in a unique way that is still hard to replicate in a digital workplace. As these aspects will continue to be fundamental for organizations going forward, it's important to aim for balanced approaches that continue to value the physical experience."


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