This article is part of Raydiant’s new Future of Workspace Series which features interviews with a wide range of professionals and thought leaders to learn more about the future of office space and how the workplace experience will evolve.
The following is an interview we recently had with Isaac Smith, Marketing Operations Specialist, FreeAgent CRM.
What will be the 3 biggest lasting changes to the workplace caused by COVID?
Technology- While video conferencing and remote-work technology was an advantage before, it will be essential now. Enterprise software tools such as CRM, HCM, LMS and HRM will see greatly accelerated adoption rates, and with that investment, major growth in capability.
Smaller Spaces- As companies begin to transition back to in-office work I think many will adopt a hybrid work model. Leasing costs in downtown office towers are outrageous and having a rotational schedule in a flex space environment will save a lot of money.
Greater Employee Agency- We have all learned a lot this year about productivity and motivation and it seems that employees are far better at managing their time and workload than anyone gave them credit for. I think this will lead to a shift that sees greater freedom given to employees who have proven they can perform without constant supervision. This may even lead to a change in lower management structure but time will tell on that.
Work-Life Balance- Employees have learned that working from home is not only possible but it also presents some significant work-life balance advantages. Parents, in particular, are going to be hard to convince to return to a permanent 9-5.
What workplace technologies will be the most important in the years ahead?
Cloud-based collaboration software, such as CRM (ok I’m biased) will be more important than ever. This technology can allow teams to work together from anywhere and not miss a beat. Alongside that, HR software that allows for the managing of employee needs, such as payroll and benefits, across a variety of countries and legal systems will be vital. Remote communication technologies like video-conferencing programs such as Zoom will see significant adoption as well.
What will the workplace of the future look like?
The workplace of the future will serve as a cultural hub for many businesses. People are social creatures and a strong team dynamic is still a necessity for most companies. While working from has many advantages, strong teams are not built over video. In order to incentivize employees to engage the office environment, I think it will have to become a more appealing place to be. Money saved on leasing costs can be invested in culture upgrades such as better break spaces and attendance rewards like food and snacks. Events and celebrations will also play a part in turning the office from a detention center into a go-to destination. This will also change the way people interact while in the office as more freedom will have to be given to employees to build relationships through shared interests that may fall outside the purvey of work-related topics. The office will become a fun place to hang out, catch up, celebrate and share in company culture activities such as group training. That’s not to say that work won’t be done; I just believe there will be a greater emphasis put on what have been up to now, tertiary considerations.
What can organizations do to prepare for this new future?
First, Invest in technology. The next generation of remote work software is already here. The faster you get your team onboard the faster you can begin to see what changes your company will have to make to stay competitive. If you think things are going to go back to the way they were before you are mistaken and delaying a year to see what happens will leave you way behind.
Secondly, trust your team. As I mentioned earlier, we have learned a lot about the employee agency this year and the numbers have shown that productivity doesn’t require as much oversight as we once thought. The next generation of employees that are now entering the workforce are looking for different things out of a job than our parents. In order to maximize your recruitment potential, creating a performance culture that is based around employee agency is a must.
Lastly, now is also the time to begin reimaging your work space. What do you NEED it to be? Some things cannot be done remotely and that is what the focus should be on. Imagine the benefits of a smaller space and let go of past expectations.