Global communications giant Poly has issued a new report surveying the shape of the post-COVID workplace, which we can probably all agree won’t return to the “old normal.” And why should it? Although we are still grappling with instability and uncertainty, the recent lockdowns have proven that many organizations can run fairly smoothly with a remote workforce. And a healthy number of those recently relocated employees might not be too happy to return to a traditional office-based arrangement. When things return to "normal", the definition of "normal" will have undergone a transformation. Poly’s report suggests a full-scale transition into hybrid working, which upholds flexibility and choice as factors that determine how and when and where we work.
"The unfortunate circumstances experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for businesses to challenge current thinking and shape a new future of work,” says Darrius Jones, Poly’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer. “The next normal is all about hybrid working moving to the mainstream as we respond, redesign and reinvent--flexible working across multiple locations, with immersive, productive work spaces that accommodate the work style of every employee."
According to Poly’s report, hybrid working will be defined by three key components. First, new work policies will offer employees flexibility on when and where they work. Second, employers should take the focus off the hours and location of work, putting a premium and productivity on results instead. Last, management will look beyond the office and facilitate the creation of collaborative, tech-enabled personal work spaces anywhere.
"Technology has a big role to play in creating the next normal, powering new workflows between people and places and enabling seamless communication and collaboration so virtual teams are motivated and engaged,"says Jones. "If we respond, redesign and reinvent, we can meet challenges head-on and constantly evolve with any changes we may face."
Evolution will entail more than a work-from-home plan. For this new model to function at a high level, companies must rise to the occasion with an eye toward diversity and difference. And management will have to learn how to adapt to a work culture in which a one-size-fits-all approach will no longer be sufficient. We are talking top-to-bottom change here. It won’t all be easy, but nothing good ever is.
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