By | Bernard Marr | Internationally best-selling author, keynote speaker, futurist, and strategic business & technology advisor
It’s no exaggeration to say our concept of what a “workplace” is changed dramatically in 2020. In one year we saw more change than most people have probably seen over their entire working life. Really, basic workplace dynamics – and by extension, most corporate cultures – in what we now call the knowledge economy, have changed comparatively little in 30 years. For as most of us can remember, we’ve commuted to work in town centers, spent most of our time at our workstations or in meetings, and forged professional and personal relationships with our co-workers through regular daily contact. For many of us, though, this isn’t the case any more.
It’s frequently remarked that those days now seem like a distant memory. Many of us are by now settled into home working routines, hopefully having managed to claim a spot that can be repurposed as a workplace, even if it does have to double up as a kitchen, playroom or kennel at times. But the challenge of adapting – not just to survive, but to thrive in this “new normal” and whatever comes after it – is going to take longer for organizations to truly solve.
The scope of this requirement for change was the topic of a conversation I took part in recently, hosted by Dell Technologies as part of their Transformation Tune-In series of webinars.
On a personal level, many of us have enjoyed the opportunity to build a better work/life balance that comes with eliminating the daily commute and fixed office hours. But having to mix work into the domestic schedule along with housekeeping, childcare and home schooling has also led to increased stress levels for some.
When listening to people talking about how they feel about this changed situation, a fairly common comment is that someone feels they are constantly “on-call” when working from home. Usually this is due to different expectations among bosses and managers, as well as the need to adjust to working in new ways.
On an organizational level, the challenges revolve around ensuring communication and collaboration are ongoing and unobstructed by technology barriers. This will lead to some fundamental changes to the way teams are managed and led, where new relationships based on outcomes and trust will be established.
Another key challenge is security – with everyone working from home often on their own tablets or laptops that may or may not be locked down and updated frequently, there is simply a wider surface area for attackers to scan for weaknesses. This is borne out by FBI data stating cyber-attacks increased by 400% during 2020.
With me on the panel was Mark Pringle, SVP Corporate Real Estate, Global Facilities and Environment, Health and Safety at Dell Technologies. As well as some great insights into how organizations are likely to change their thinking on how their physical estate is used and managed, he spoke about the “mindset” challenge created by different attitudes among managers and leaders towards working from home.
But with results backing up claims made by almost 90% of respondents to an internal survey that they were at least as, if not more productive at home as in the office, it seems that it’s this mindset that will need to change.