As we step out of the Covid restrictions, information workers find themselves in terra incognita. Do they return quickly to the offices, and if so how? What do we need to equip our teams, not only in terms of productivity but also well-being and good mental health? With Gartner predicting that 74% of organizations will see more remote work, what will a hybrid approach to work look like?
Those of us who have had long careers in the tech industry tend to have more freedoms than others regarding how and where we work. When I worked in marketing and brand management in India, we were traditionally expected to work in offices, in our own offices, at prescribed hours.
Later in the board everyone had an assigned office, but the fact that we were working globally meant that few of us were actually theirs. At a software giant my work was completely remote, and at an Internet giant I was mostly back to office work. Where and how the work takes place depends on the people, the culture, the workloads and the task at hand. However, before Covid, the management teams of Fortune 500 companies and enterprises did not spend hours figuring out how and where to work as they do today. The complicated question of how best to get the job done is now a problem for CEOs and management teams in all industries.
There are more questions than answers, and we cannot know with conviction what even the short-term future of work will look like. We must be humble in our planning, be able to absorb the lessons and correct the course accordingly. It makes sense to reflect on what we’ve learned from this tumultuous year and a half, both in terms of what’s best for the company and from a career perspective.
The bandwidth war
2020 and 2021 encompassed national battles for bandwidth that forced us to prioritize who could have access to valuable Wi-Fi links and when. This formula was constantly recalibrated: children’s online courses ranked first, then parents’ Zoom / Teams / Meet calls. We’ve all become network managers, capacity planners, investing in better plans, and believing that unlimited cellular data plans are worth the price.
The next step could be that we all become network engineers too. It seems likely that more of us will be working from home, which means moving beyond mainstream bandwidth plans, where speeds are measured in single megabits and security is dependent on when you patched and updated. update your router.
Connectivity matters more than ever and it’s up to companies like Colt to come up with partnerships and deals and suggest new best practices, because if your home is now a productivity zone, enterprise level networks can’t just be. located in shiny urban towers. . Equipping users with a great home network, training, support, and security will become a line item on many corporate spreadsheets. And as augmented reality and virtual reality expand and the quality of video and voice continues to evolve, we will depend more than ever on a resilient communications infrastructure that will not experience new models of communication. traffic and network usage, just like those centered on the metropolis. which have long prevailed.
Technology is our friend
VPNs and network tariffs that can be easily switched up and down have clear relevance here, and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is our friend, providing protections and policy-based access to services, wherever we are physically. Remote communications and teamwork have been boosted by video, so we need to adjust our capacity planning accordingly. More than half of HR managers believe that weak technology infrastructure is the biggest obstacle to successful remote working.
The human factor must also be taken into account. Our eyes are tired from the glare of ring lights, our blurry vision with the constant close-ups of video calls, and our stressed spines as we spend 10-hour days hunched over our home office spaces. At Colt, we’ve introduced ‘clear your plate’ days where we’ve advised anyone who can to avoid video calling tools and be away from home. And when we did, we saw productivity increase.
Technology has also grown stronger to bring our need for contact, community and symbolism to life. Deprived of human contact, tools like WhatsApp groups and Facebook workspaces have become hotspots for culture, empathy, sympathy, and jokes. The extent to which we are tribal has become very evident to us. It’s this dual aspect of technology – bane and benefit – that makes it clear that connectivity is important, but people and the human spirit matter more.
We have to be careful: I was fully integrated via a screen and I had to understand the culture of the company that way. But now I have to unlearn the screen when I meet my colleagues in person. We must consider that our assumptions may be wrong and that we have hidden biases. I loved working from home, but when I walked into the office it was refreshing to have specific schedules and the rigors of an office work environment framed my day. I would expect young people to enjoy this freedom, but if they share an apartment with others in cramped environments and try to learn more about the world of work and the excitement of the world. ‘being in the cities, they may not.
We also need to be in tune with semiotics – reading the subtle interpersonal cues and nonverbal communications that we learned through cultural osmosis in the days when we saw our colleagues predictably and regularly. We know that social distancing has caused suffering for many, so we need to be aware of the potential anxiety and the impact of change on mental health.
The newfound freedom to work more flexibly will be a boon for many, but we must understand that there are pitfalls. We need to be aware of the temptation to see the colleague who is most often in the office with us as the go-to person to get things done. This may require training and learning new habits.
The optimist in me says that in this dynamic new world of work, we will be more fulfilled and more complete people, able to give the best of ourselves to employers. But we’ll have to be mindful of the nuances of what the next few months and years will bring. The trinity of people, process and technology is more important than ever to be kept in balance.
Do you know what your traffic will look like when people return to the office? Try our bandwidth calculator
Originally posted on Business Reporter