It’s not clear when the current COVID-19 crisis will be over, Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the top US public health experts warns that it could take most of 2021 or longer to get the pandemic under control and that it is “unlikely” the virus can ever be fully eradicated. However, we all hope that one day, the virus will subside. And when it does, will life go back to the way it was pre-COVID-19? We don’t think so, this global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way most people view life, work, and the office.

The future of work

So what does this new way of life look like? Back in 2019, before the Coronavirus, we predicted what the next generation workplace would look like. Now, forced lockdowns, all over the world, have pushed the understanding of flexible and remote working forward decades. Employers have realised that their employees are able to get on with their jobs without someone looking over their shoulder, and employees find that they have more free time to spend with family and friends, and not stuck in traffic or public transport for hours.

But with 30% of employees wanting to return to the office we predict a new way of working, a hybrid approach will be adopted by many businesses. We expect to see most office workers being given the chance to work from home 100% of the time, indeed we are already working with many organisations who have started to offer this, but we predict that staff will choose to spend 80-90% of their time working from home, with the remaining 10-20% in an office environment or as we call it, The Hub.

The office will become “The Hub”

The “Hub day” will be staggered for many workers, reducing the volume of people on public transport, as well as minimising the number arriving at the office at the same time.

Contactless and voice activation technology from Amazon and Google will be ubiquitous, and a new industry will emerge to provide intelligent services from the lift and security barriers to coffee machines and water faucet taps.

Track and Trace technology will be mandatory for many workers as businesses try to remain COVID free, as well as trying to stamp out mini outbreaks as and when they occur.

Employees and visitors will be scanned upon entry by thermal and face recognition scanners linked to security access barriers.

Intelligent Contactless Temperture Screening

Gone are the days of being in the office hunched over a desktop, instead the office will become a community Hub dedicated to meetings and whiteboarding which aren’t suited to video call. After all, creativity generally happens in groups, within a real space not within a virtual Zoom call.

High-touch areas such as doors and drawers, if not contactless, will be treated with antimicrobial materials to reduce infection, and air conditioning units will be overhauled with improved filtration and UV light to kill off pathogens.

Employee welfare will be high on the agenda of many company boards, and mental health councillors will be a standard addition to most companies.

The Home

Due to the financial pressures caused by global lockdowns and furlough schemes, it’s unlikely that wages will increase, however, many companies will provide employees with a working from home allowance in order to purchase appropriate furniture.

The suburbs will be the place to be, providing people from the city with access to larger properties and open spaces to work from. After the initial shock of working off the kitchen table or perched on the end of the bed, more permanent settings will be created. Second bedrooms or garden sheds will likely be converted into office spaces and garden studies.

Company policies and procedures will require a complete review to make sure that data and security practices remain tight as work is performed outside of traditional control systems.

There will be a massive increase in the use of Desktop Analytics to make sure employees are productive, and gamification will find it’s way into many organisations as a way of keep staff motivated within peer groups.

Organisations will look to simplify their technology stack by removing many of the burdens inflicted by IT. Technologies such as Google G Suite and Google Voice will be common, and 2021 will be the year most organisations finally make their move to “The Cloud”.

Conclusion

Working from Home isn’t a silver bullet, and there are plenty of areas which we haven’t covered in this article but if you’re interested in exploring what’s needed to make sure you’re able to take advantage of this hybrid approach then get in touch. One way or another we will come out of the other side of this crisis, better and strong.

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