It’s impossible to say for certain that the pandemic is winding down. At this point, health experts are still trying to reign in COVID-19 and distribute vaccines to the public. The return "back to normal" is in sight, but we’re still in the thick of it. And in this period of transition, there is considerable debate over what "normal" will look like.
Most businesses are looking forward and forming strategies to safely resume some in-person operations. This two-part series will explore some of the structural changes that are taking place across various industries, as companies pivot to the “next” normal of the pandemic.
Back To Normal With A Twist: Shifting To Hybrid Work
Despite the rocky transition to remote work at the onset of the pandemic, feelings about the trend appear to be mostly positive across the board. In a recent benchmark survey from PwC, 83 percent of employers said the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, up from 73% in June 2020.
Most companies have established at least base level remote connectivity and security, and are now in the process of upgrading their services and laying the groundwork for permanent remote work.
That said, the future of remote work will most likely be much different. A gradual shift to hybrid work is already starting to take place, which is expected to accelerate in the coming months as more people get vaccinated. Eventually, hybrid work will be the new normal.
Consider the fact that in PwC’s survey, only 13 percent of executives claimed they are ready to permanently ditch their offices. And 75 percent of executives believe at least half of their office employees will return to the office by June 2021.
It’s clear that executives will need to tread lightly when asking employees to resume on-site operations though, or pushback will occur. PwC found that employees want to return back to normal more slowly than employers in regards to in-office operations, with 61% of employees expecting to spend half their time on-site by July. Hybrid work acceleration will largely depend on how the next few months pan out.
Retrofitting Offices For Hybrid Work
PwC also found that U.S. executives are planning many new investments to support hybrid work. Some of the top investments include tools for virtual collaboration (72%), IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity (70%) and training for managers to manage a more virtual workspace (64%). Additional investments include fitting conference rooms with enhanced virtual connectivity, and hoteling applications, among others.
Many companies have been forced to retrofit their office environments to enable social distancing. The majority of companies will also be using scheduling systems to limit on-site workers and reduce the spread of germs.
Further, social distancing requirements are increasing demand for mobile solutions that enable workers to move around throughout the day, instead of being tethered to their desks. Some companies are also implementing hardware with antimicrobial components to limit the spread of COVID-19 on shared surfaces.
Surging Cloud Adoption
The cloud is more important than ever, as companies prepare for the “work from anywhere” trend that has become a standard business requirement in getting back to normal.
Two trends to watch include multi-cloud adoption, which increased by 70% year over year during COVID-19, and cloud native growth. Many organizations are embracing modern cloud architectures built with microservices, which make it easier and cost-effective to build and manage applications.
In addition, there is skyrocketing demand for UCaaS, which keeps teams connected and secure regardless of their location. By implementing UCaaS, companies can achieve reliable communication at all times for both on-site and remote workers.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, which will focus on cloud computing and the return of retail in the transition of returning back to normal.