Imagine the events of the last year taking place a few short years earlier. Before superfast broadband. Before Steve Jobs changes our lives irrevocably. The connectivity foundations simply wouldn’t have stretched to the same levels of success in enabling remote working and such speed and scale. Returning to the office would have been the straightforward choice.
What the numbers confidently indicate is that, when we weigh up office-based working versus remote working from home, the future is blended. What we are hearing from our customer communities is that remote working has in fact seen a surprising strengthening in trust between employer and employee. Perceptions have shattered. Connectivity is no longer a commodity; it is a currency. It’s business as unusual.
And UCaaS isn’t simply a tool at the top of your IT priorities, it’s profoundly at the heart of your business.
It is undeniable that UCaaS strategies ought to start at the user and with a knowledge of their needs, but there are many factors to consider. How can you ensure successful migration? Do you have the right foundations in place and the right enabling technology partner? Do their services extend to user adoption? Are you connecting your purpose to your platforms, and those platforms to people effectively?
Businesses need to have the right pedigree of services behind them and need to be able to pressure test to ensure a successful UCaaS strategy. We also need to consider whether we are collaborating at our best potential as UC is not just about conferencing, there’s so much more to the mix.
A business can run smoothly when its teams are well equipped and trained, no matter where they’re based. They simply need good speed and high quality of communication and service. So, where does this leave the now humble office space?
The demise of the ‘office’?
For the majority, our homes were not designed to become full-time offices. We’ve all had to test whether our broadband setup is adequate – that same broadband we typically use to check our emails occasionally, do a bit of online shopping and stream the latest Netflix series.
A 100% homeworking workforce may not be sustainable long term. We need human contact and face-to-face interaction. Our homes can be filled with distractions and, most importantly, our welfare comes first.
There is no denying that the office provides a more lucid working experience. It contains a collective of experts, offering prime opportunities for networking. An office provides more defined rules around punctuality and enables us to clearly divide our day between our professional and personal life.
The spontaneity and possibilities that stem from a chance encounter with a colleague or client in the office cannot be easily recreated at home. But when we’ve found so much efficiency in working from home, and with the right setup and security in place, why would we want to disassemble completely and return to what we had before? We’ve all been forced into becoming more progressive. The risks are low and the business continuity benefits are considerable.
At one time, the opportunity and attraction of working out of a large office in a city centre was coveted, but in this digital and omni-focused world, will the skyscrapers and office blocks suffer the same fate as the much-loved high street? Falling by the wayside, trumped by the convenience of the cloud?
What will businesses do about the expense of this newfound, underutilised office space? In our eyes the workplace needs to be completely reinvented, not lost.
It’s time to build a new narrative
Some see working in an office full time as a way of sustaining the authenticity of work and, at worse, sustaining a habit of presenteeism culture. But what if we have the chance to build a new, more efficient narrative? Commuting to the office day in and day out is no longer a necessity and a distributed workforce is no longer seen as a handicap.
We must create this new workplace narrative. We’ve already established that the office is a place that offers more instant gratification, so why not turn it into a venue of experiences rather than a permanent hub?
As lockdown measures continue to ease, the novelty is wearing thinner and some are looking forward to getting back to the office. Our strategy needs to head towards a blended style of working.
The way we think of remote working is changing drastically. What started out as fear and reluctance is now ‘How do we police, facilitate and futureproof our new UCaaS strategy going forward?’ and ‘How do we strike the balance between home and office?’
How can we begin to use our offices more efficiently, more imaginatively? We may not need to be in them 24/7 but a headquarters will always be important. Yes, the highstreets have fallen due to online demand but they have also evolved – retail parks are still thriving. We must also evolve and adapt with the times.
One thing is for sure, employees should not feel as though they need to return to work until it is safe to do so. How many of our homeworkers will be returning to the office and what will these safer environments look like? The answer to a safe and seamless return to work is in the parity between people and technology.
However, as we’ve stated previously, UCaaS isn’t simply video and chat. UCaaS offers a myriad of elements which all need to be utilised and incorporated into our over-arching strategies. Adopting them and communicating this to your team is imperative. While you continue to let UCaaS facilitate your working day, companies like Gamma will manage the burden of any complexity for our customers seamlessly in the background.
Some businesses might have more questions than answers, but we believe that a successful future involves strong values, strong teams and the UCaaS strategy that underpins them. We’ve all achieved the impossible over the last year and striking the balance between homeworking and a new style of workplace is the only vision ahead of us. Planning for our new workplace narrative starts today.