The pandemic compelled businesses worldwide to shut down their offices and go remote with their workforces. Most organizations struggled to make the transition to remote working since it was a change at unprecedented scale and speed.
Fast forward two years, and we’ve learned that the need to reimagine workplaces was not just a temporary result of the pandemic. Today, almost all businesses have realized that how they respond to change over the long term is what will keep them relevant, boost their bottom line, and help them stay productive in the digital age.
According to a report by Deloitte, 60 percent of professionals who switched to a remote work environment said it improved their work/life balance, and 74 percent said they would prefer to continue to telecommute more once pandemic limitations are lifted.
It’s therefore unsurprising that many organizations are beginning to accept the inevitability of a digital workplace, where work is completed by a mix of onsite and remote workers who must operate in synchrony to meet business objectives as they manage an increasing number of offsite employees — working from home or other non-traditional workspaces.
To guide what comes next, here is a look at the four most important trends in the digital workplace.
Embracing a digital workplace while maintaining a physical workplace
Remote work and in-person work are not an either-or proposition. Many businesses will need to give workforces the option to work remotely while at the same time maintaining a physical workplace.
Thus, the challenge moving forward isn’t replacing in-person work technologies with remote-work solutions from a technology perspective. It’s expanding the infrastructure that powers work so that employees can operate from anywhere. It will also involve finding ways to provide that infrastructure efficiently to control costs and securely protect against the added risks that can arise when employees (and the data and applications they use) could exist both on-site and off-site.
To meet these challenges, expect to see the increasing deployment of technologies like Desktop as a Service (DaaS), which gives employees secure desktop environments that they can use both in the office and remotely – and which, by extension, lays the foundation for an “anywhere” workspace.
Virtual collaboration and communication
Another significant trend gaining traction is digital cooperation and collaboration in the workplace. Virtual meetings, project workspaces, a complete corporate directory, and social forums that can replace the watercooler catch-up are just a few alternatives currently available to replace practically every in-person workplace encounter.
That's because collaboration is – and will remain – critical in the modern workplace, within both its virtual and physical manifestations.
Indeed, a recent study revealed that organizations that encourage collaborative working are five times more likely to be high performers. Collaboration, therefore, needs to remain a key focus as businesses shift toward flexible workplace arrangements.
Digitalization and automation
As employees were scattered throughout different geographical locations and no longer had access to office supplies, moving to remote working has highlighted the need to shift away from time-consuming manual and paper-based processes. Workflow management has been – and continues to be – a headache for many businesses, but current digitalization and automation solutions are now widely used. Artificial intelligence (AI) has also played a significant role in automating manual procedures and offering new deployment opportunities, thanks to the focus on digital workplaces and remote workers.
Data and security
Of course, as more employees work from home using personal devices, these new digital workplaces can offer modern threats, ranging from hacking and data breaches to sophisticated email scams.
For that reason, expect to see more and more security measures like two-factor authentication, BYOD-appropriate security, rigorous access controls, and regular alerts for users to reset passwords.
Glimpse into the future
The range of IT services available in the modern workplace is astounding – as it needs to be for businesses to keep up with constant change. These technologies transform the way people work and engage with their coworkers and how companies run. And the rate of change will grow only more intense going forward as digital workplaces evolve further.
(Sivakumar Ramamurthy is CEO and Deputy Managing Director, Anunta Tech)