There has been a tipping point in the adoption of modern work practices after the pandemic. New ideas that have only recently been piloted at a small scale on the margins of organisations are now set to go mainstream. In Crestron’s Tackling the Modern Workplace by the Numbers report, a survey of IT leaders showed that 79 per cent planned to update their hybrid work strategy in the next 12 months, and 71 per cent said they would replace their existing collaboration platform in the same time frame. It is clear that major change is afoot.
Tracking studies of employee sentiment consistently show that people are unwilling to relinquish the new freedoms which they first tasted during the pandemic. For example, research conducted by Nordic facility management company Coor in 2022 revealed that 41 per cent of employees were willing to leave their job if they were not offered flexibility, increasing to 51 per cent among 18 to 30-year-olds. Facilitating these arrangements is therefore even more crucial to ensuring employee loyalty, as well as for attracting new talent.
Our review suggests that organisations with a higher level of preparedness for modern work are implementing a framework of policies around their people. These are clear and unambiguous, giving employees more choice and control over how they work, and balanced in providing opportunities for both in-person and remote collaboration. There is a focus on building social and cultural capital in the workplace, as well as supporting health and mental well-being. Leadership in these organisations is compassionate, non-hierarchal and flexible, while maintaining an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
The changing cultural attitudes about work pose new questions for the future of the office environment and the experience it provides. More companies now accept that a superior office design is a better bet for encouraging people back than mandates. As a result, there is extensive activity to repurpose, reposition and reimagine estate assets.
To accommodate hybrid working, organisations need to move away from standard office designs that prioritise corporate function towards more varied, diverse and human-centric workspaces. Organisations that are preparing for this new reality are designing workplaces that are sustainable – a crucial differentiator for younger workers – and healthy, supporting sensory well-being through features such as lighting, air quality and acoustics. These workplaces provide settings for collaboration, but also spaces for individual work when employees need to focus. These features provide a sense of place, which helps to create memorable interactions when people come to the office.
The third and final dimension of the new world of work is digital transformation. Technology underpins the cultural and place-based factors that enable modern work practices. As modern work approaches its tipping point, organisations are looking to proactively scale up a streamlined technology experience to optimise team performance.
But while technology is a key enabler of hybrid working, the issues around its adoption must be carefully handled to avoid friction in the system. With a mix of remote and office-based work, meeting equity is a major headache for many employers. In-person and remote participants in hybrid meetings need to have an equitable experience, which is not always the case currently.
To scale up a seamlessly effective model of hybrid working, companies must now take the extra step on their digital transformation journey. Importantly, this means considering technology at the earliest planning stage of the design and build process so it can be integrated effectively in the workplace, rather than treating it as an afterthought or an add-on.
Organisations equipping themselves for modern work are committing to providing meeting equality. They provide a range of video-enabled meeting rooms to allow staff to connect without delay, as well as in-person collaboration spaces that enable content to be instantly shared. Well-prepared companies focus on collecting data on space utilisation to help them improve the office environment, and also use workplace apps to ensure that employees get the most out of it while they’re there.
Crestron has developed a Modern Work Readiness Survey to help companies plot their position and assess how well-equipped they are to address the opportunities and challenges of the new work era. The short, simple survey tool asks a series of 20 questions about the integration of people, place and technology in your organisation, then produces a percentage score from which you can rank your company’s level of readiness for modern work. The Modern Work Readiness Score then gives advice on how companies can up their game at a pivotal point in workplace development.
We are reaching a tipping point in modern work. Every company needs to be ready for a future in which flexible work patterns, supported by digital technology, are the mainstream.
Brad Hintze is executive vice president of marketing at Crestron
This article was originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription