This is arguably the world’s biggest trial of remote working, with organisations rethinking several common workplace misconceptions.
“Brave New World”, the critically acclaimed 1932 dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley, made predictions of scientific advancements, and was, at that time, considered by some to be too far-fetched.
I recently read news reports about a new book, a thriller called “Lockdown”, written in 2005 with the storyline of a viral pandemic that brought the planet to its economic knees. Publishers widely rejected it, at the time, as being too dystopian. Needless to say, it is now being published.
So, indeed, we are not entering, but living, in a brave new world where if economies are to survive, businesses will need to adapt or die.
The current global pandemic has changed our working lives forever. Remote working, once considered to be a perk, now has the potential to become the norm for many organisations. Of course, the temporary lockdowns will eventually lift, but remote working is here to stay, and companies must commence preparations for this operational shift − now.
There are several issues driving this working paradigm shift, not least of which is the increasing concern around employees’ health and mental wellbeing post the pandemic. This will probably translate into businesses deciding it simply does not make sense for them to bring all employees back into the office.
Remote working, once considered to be a perk, now has the potential to become the norm for many organisations.
A UK publication, Personnel Today, outlines Gartner’s approach to the key questions around the post-lockdown workplace and the misconceptions that have been busted by the lockdown work environment. It goes on to explain that many business leaders assume the current remote working conditions are temporary while countries manage the pandemic, and that we’ll eventually get back to a standard working practice.
Well, it is increasingly apparent that the foregoing is simply not true. The workplace will never be the same, post-pandemic. This is arguably the world’s biggest trial of remote working, with organisations rethinking several common workplace misconceptions. The first is that employees are less productive working-from-home. Gartner says its research shows this is not the case, rather it reveals there are no fundamental differences in the output of remote versus office-based employees.
Other misconceptions listed include the one that employees deliver their best work based on a nine-to-five schedule. As businesses give employees more flexibility over their schedules to manage lockdown conditions, they are realising this idea is massively outdated, and that productivity profiles are more personal. Some people work better in the morning, others at night, and by breaking these time constraints, a business can help make employees more productive.
The discussion around staff and what is best in terms of continued output is only the tip of the iceberg of issues that must be considered.
Below are some of the important changes I and my colleagues envision in this brave new world − all of which will drive a need for visibility and control from a cost plus security perspective − not having appropriate software in place to provide monitoring could lead to catastrophic expense scenarios:
- Mobile coverage constraints will force organisations to adopt a multi-vendor strategy. This is already a significant IT trend across the board with many companies already augmenting their availability and performance monitoring using mega-suite solutions from best-of-breed vendors. The consensus is that companies not either implementing or planning multi-cloud/multi-vendor strategies are most likely lagging their competition.
- Bring your own device will become less prevalent. Employees will expect mobile devices and connectivity to be provided as work tools that enable the flexibility they need, with more connectivity options, so they can work where and when they want.
- The deployment of specific software will be crucial to monitoring company expenditures in this scenario. Organisations neglecting this will do so at their peril. It will be essential to install the means to enhance visibility and management of newly decentralised mobile voice and data environments.
- Mobile service providers will create improved models enabling them to better service and support decentralised customer environments.
- There will be an increasing dependence on software capable of managing and tracking tasks and workloads associated with appropriate levels of supervision of a remote workforce.
- Inventory and security management will receive considerably more focus due to mobile device and user base scattering.
- Businesses will need to adjust mobile policies to better cater for remote worker behaviour and tools.
- Job spec profiling will become more relevant in terms of driving policy and rate plan selection for the user base.
- SaaS expenditure will start to increase company IT spend as organisations and remote workers alike look for and adopt software applications designed to enhance productivity, communication and support the achievement of KPIs. This will require organisations to increase visibility into this area of spend.
5G will play an even more important role in connecting employees and applications to the business ecosystem. Commercial 5G has, just this month, been rolled out in three of SA’s major cities by Vodacom, namely Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria.
This development will change the face of the workplace of tomorrow as it augments the ability to work at any time, from any location. It is expected to unlock new applications that were simply not possible in the past. Globally, predications are that it will hail massive changes due to new capabilities. For example, Ericsson predicts that by 2024, 5G will reach more than 40% population coverage and 1.5 billion subscriptions, making it the fastest technology generation to be rolled out on the world business stage.
Business unit managers will be expected to be more accountable for the mobile voice and data costs, and consumption of their direct reports.
The bottom line is − what is now becoming a bit jaded and trite with everyone referring to “the new normal” − these changes are already here and increasingly becoming entrenched in the new work paradigm. Visibility of expenditure will be everything to all businesses’ ability to, not just monitor spend, but to control it.
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