In a blog post in early May, Google CEO (CEO) Sundar Pichai shared the company’s vision for his future job – more than a year after the covid-19 pandemic forced offices around the world to close its doors almost immediately. night after night and employees suddenly got to work remotely with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and a host of other virtual collaboration tools.
“The future of work is flexibility,” he said, adding that Google is “reinventing a hybrid workplace to help us collaborate effectively in multiple work environments”. This includes testing multi-purpose workspaces and developing advanced video technology that “creates greater equity between employees in the office and those who join virtually,” he explained.
Google is far from alone in its efforts to keep up with an unprecedented post-pandemic office evolution. Citigroup announced recently that a majority of workers will be designated as hybrids, working at least three days a week in the office. Ford said 30,000 of its employees in North America would be allowed to work under a flexible hybrid model. Almost every organization in every industry tries to determine how they navigate and respond to changing employee expectations and feelings around how and where they work.
For example, EY’s 2021 Survey of rethought employment revealed that nine out of ten employees want continuous work flexibility, while more than half of employees worldwide would consider leaving their job if post-pandemic flexibility is not provided.
Moreover, employees ’expectations for job flexibility do not necessarily meet those of their management. According to a recent report performed by the global market research company Ipsos and premium audio brand EPOS, 53% of decision makers think the majority of employees will spend more time at the physical work site next year, rather than at a distance, while only 26% of employees think the same.
Employees also require more and better technology to promote increasingly flexible ways of working and more sophisticated options for off-site and off-site collaboration. In the Ipsos / EPOS study, for example, found that 89% of all end users currently experience challenges when they have virtual meetings or workshops. Research has found that about 63% of global end-users experience problems during business conversations on a regular basis due to poor sound quality. The most common problems include background noise (32%), interference on the line (26%), and demanding repetition of information (23%).
The move to distance work has highlighted the need for resilience, agility and flexibility not only in the way companies operate but in the way they employ their employees. The current agitation from a remote environment to hybrid possibilities is a similarly disruptive moment that requires technological innovation to equalize the work environment for all — those working from home or elsewhere far away, as well as those physically in the office.
“The onset of the covid-19 pandemic was like a time machine that suddenly pushed us decades into the future,” said Paul Silverglate, vice president and head of the U.S. technology sector at Deloitte, talking about how networks, services and devices come together to effectively support the transition to work and home schooling. “The underlying technology for these new behaviors has been truly tested and, for the most part, kept under increased connection requirements. As we adapt, we have touched the limits of what our current technology can provide.”
Investing in innovative technology is crucial to the employee experience
When organizations emerge from the pandemic, more than two-thirds (68%) of CEOs plan major investment in data and technology, while 61% plan to undertake a new transformation initiative, according to Imperative survey of EY CEO 2021. The question is, how can companies invest in innovative technology to increase the employee experience in a hybrid workplace? After all, it becomes crystal clear that the traditional conference room with a table, chairs and speakers will no longer cut it when people return to a new hybrid workplace.
Companies like EY have made large investments, including a conference room that offers an immersive meeting experience with full-size touch screens and integrated cameras and speakers. Increasingly, 360-degree cameras, microphones, and speakers are likely to be integrated into collection locations and the number of screens increases, transforming the conference room into a “Zoom Room,” according to Meena Krenek, an interior design director at Perkins + Will, an architecture firm that is renovating offices, including its own, for new ways of working.
Google also created a new meeting room called Fire, where participants in person sit in a circle interspersed with large screens that show the faces of people calling by video conference, so virtual participants are on the same level as those physically present.
These moves reflect the consensus from the Ipsos / EPOS study, which found that workers and managers continue to see the benefits of holding meetings virtually. About 79% of end users recognize the benefits of video for virtual meetings, an increase of 7% by 2020. Along with saving time and costs compared to face-to-face meetings, 21% of users decision makers say video meetings help them feel closer to their team, and 17% believe it establishes trust in working relationships.
Whatever the future of the job site, it must be aligned with the company’s culture and its efforts to recruit and retain the best talent.
Many financial companies, for example, have considered personal collaboration too important to lose, so he asked people to come to the office early in the economic reopening. In Silicon Valley, however, some companies are relocating their headquarters and becoming completely remote organizations.
Most companies, however, take a hybrid approach: Accenture’s 2021 Future of Work study of 9,000 workers worldwide found that a vast majority of employees (83%) say that a hybrid model would be optimal for a productive and healthy workforce.
“Employee expectations are changing, and we need to define productivity more broadly – including collaboration, learning and well-being to drive career advancement for every employee,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. recent report. “All of this has to be done flexibly when, where, and how people work.”
This content was produced by EPOS. It was not written by the editor of the MIT Technology Review.