- We know the new work environment is going to involve a fair measure of hybrid (remote/home/office) working
- Apart from that, the construction of those new work models is still a work in progress
- The good thing is that it means more network investment
So far the global communications industry has had a “good pandemic”. Its performance in keeping the digital lines of communication open has been second to none and its services have become more highly valued as a result.
Remote and home working using our technologies has been the saviour of the global economy and the hybrid work models it has spawned are still evolving amid (read hindered by) ongoing uncertainty and efforts to achieve employee experience parity, says research company IDC.
This may well be a complicated way of saying that the more the world of work has latched onto the notion of flexible, remote and home working - first as a necessity at the outset of the pandemic, then as a increasingly popular employment option with apparent advantages for both employer and employee - the more difficult it has become to define what the new world of work will look like. We do know it’s almost certain to involve lots of network technology so it’s worth keeping up with what’s happening in the workplace(s).
The pesky pandemic, which seems reluctant to go away sufficiently to warrant a full-scale return to office life as it was in 2019, lingers on and is spinning off dangerous new variants. At the same time vaccination hasn’t proved to be the silver bullet we all hoped for. Nobody knows when the pandemic is likely to be safely contained and a full-scale return to the office, if desired, can be declared.
So where are we?
IDC expects the percentage mix of office-based, remote, non-office, and field workers to vary, not only by business type, but from region to region. It claims Asia/Pacific workers, for example, are more likely to claim the physical office space as a primary work location compared to the United States and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa where a much higher share of survey respondents (27%) prefers remote or work-from-home as their primary work location. Meanwhile, the share of the U.S. workforce currently working remotely (44%) is expected to decline, but field and non-office locations are gaining favour as primary work locations, it says.
Employee experience parity
All this change is likely to put some strain on organisational, political and social stability muses IDC, especially if companies neglect to foster ‘experience parity’ within their organisations to ensure that all workers securely interact with corporate resources (including people) with a consistent experience and context across locations.
In other words it’s important that in a hybrid environment (which is what many office workers can expect to be part of from now on) that everyone feels fully part of the team, rather than sometimes left out of the loop (or loops). IDC says that nearly half the companies it has surveyed indicated that their hybrid work technologies, policies, and processes were "in progress" with most key resources now available to remote employees with some lingering access or user experience issues.
Already, the idea that a well-defined ‘new normal’ might emerge in the global world of work (office work, essentially) now seems hopelessly naive. The old normal and its structures and employment norms was highly diverse in any case, so rather than a speedy return to the old 2019 ways, the new hybrid environment will involve a slow journey into the unknown with many challenges and disruptions to learn from on the way. Just like it always did.
The IDC report, Finding the Next "Steady State" of Hybrid Work looks at how ongoing global disruptions are challenging organizations to consider a variety of hybrid work locations. The report, Momentum and Investment in Hybrid Work Models, examines how organizations have increased investment in digital and work transformation to support hybrid work models, as the ongoing disruption challenges efforts to return to pre-pandemic work practices.
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