Image of a woman working in the modern workplace

The Workplace Is Changing — Are You Ready?

The Workplace Is Changing. Are You Ready? A couple of months ago, I wrote about the “New Normal” and how technology is being reimagined for hybrid work. Since that time, there have been starts and stops with corporations hoping to get people back to the office by September. As we all know, globally the various COVID variants took hold, and this has delayed many attempts at a return to work. But what does “return to work” even mean? And how do you define work?  

Work Then and Now  

Picture of people engaging in person at an office meeting.

 

For starters, the modern workplace has truly shown us that work is not necessarily sitting at a desk for 8 hours. And many of us can relate, work can be a lot more than 8 hours a day now too, which can be good and bad. Pre-pandemic, I had a conversation with a friend who has been at his company for more than 20 years. At the time, he was always working out of the office and when he worked remotely, he told me that if he responded to emails and chats occasionally, he was ‘working from home.’  I caught up with him before writing this blog and asked how ‘working from home’ has been since. He explained how some days he doesn’t get a chance to eat or even go outside during the day. But on other days he goes for a nice walk or runs errands during the workday. I posed the same question to Infused Innovations’ CEO, Jeff Wilhelm, and asked him how he defines work these days. His response was that as long as his staff is “productive, collaborative, responsive to client needs, and able to be creative in a variety of ways” he considers it time well spent. 

In my last podcast, I mentioned how it’s now the normal and no longer the new normal. As part of the normal, employers will have to embrace the fact that employees will now fall into three different personas: remote, hybrid, and office. With the remote persona, the employee is fully remote, with no plans to even come to the office. With hybrid, the employee is primarily a remote worker but will need to be productive when in the office. The office persona is the full-time office worker, with a dedicated office space. When you think of work using these different personas, it forces you to think about how to empower the employee with the tools needed to be productive and to succeed.  

Before the pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon to have a meeting in a conference room and just connect to a web meeting with a laptop so that virtual participants could be present. Or, if you had already enabled your conference room for video conferencing, you likely had a camera at one end of the meeting room and the virtual participant(s) had to deal with not seeing everyone in the room. You also (likely) did not have the best audio quality during the meeting. The pandemic changed all of that and we now need to think about how to level the playing field across the three different personas and do it securely and safely. 

René’s Workday Reimagined 

Rene working virtually on her computer.

Let’s imagine a future scenario: René is a hybrid worker. She wants to go to the office to meet with her co-workers. Given the above, likely some of those co-workers will be fully remote. How can she go to the office securely and safely and be productive? In this example, she can start her journey from home by doing a health check that will ask her about her exposure to COVID and other employer-customized questions. She will then select a hoteling/hotdesk workspace available to her, based on the location that she’s going to and her role in the company. At the office, she will sign in with her app and this will unlock the door to the office, allowing her entry. She will then be guided to her office space via her app and digital signage placed around the office. When she gets to her reserved space for the day, she will check in via her app, plug her laptop into the docking station, and through the power of a modern endpoint solution, her office phone, webcam, dual displays, and even the adjacent conference room inherits her identity. As a bonus, her standing desk adjusts to her stored preference, and the Wi-Fi-enabled picture frame changes to show a picture of her dog. She then goes into the conference room and checks into the room to start the meeting that’s on her calendar. Once the meeting starts, she’s greeted with life-size versions of all her remote participants, and as she walks around the room, the camera and audio follow her every move thanks to AI-powered active speaker tracking. She also collaborates on a whiteboard where she can see the other participants making live edits and additions. 

The Future is Now

The modern workspace is now meetings with VR technology & more.

As I love to say, the future is now, and this is the scenario that we’re working on with our clients today. To be fair, you don’t need to enable all the above for workers in the normal, but you do need to think virtual first. As I illustrated, the playing field is leveled in this world. René is a hybrid worker but has all that she needs to be productive in the office. And when she’s in the office, the line is blurred between virtual and in-person thanks to advances in modern work technologies. And if the above scenario isn’t futuristic enough for you, early next year, Zoom is coming to Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms, allowing a shared VR meeting space to host video meetings and connect to Zoom Whiteboard. This is our new world and is now the normal. 

Guidance and Support with Technology Shifts 

Photo of a team supporting another company in their digital transformation.

At Infused Innovations, we specialize in helping companies understand and adapt to technology shifts. Before and during the pandemic, we have performed hundreds of accelerators to demonstrate the power of the Secure Intelligent Workplace, including the all-in-one Teams platform that delivers voice calls, video conferencing, real-time document collaboration, digital whiteboard, chat, and more. No matter where you are on your Digital Transformation journey, we can help you reach your destination.  

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