For companies with an office-based workforce, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant the greatest and fastest workplace shift ever seen. However, the future of work is not a wholesale move to remote working but a new balance. A hybrid workplace approach encompassing flexible, laptop-centric ways of working tailored for maximum usability and better meetings irrespective of participant location.
Now, with an end in sight, companies need to ask what lies beyond 2020 and how to restructure to prepare for a hybrid future. Here are Barco’s top trends to look out for in 2021…
Investment in hybrid working
Appetite for hybrid working has been building for many years – Covid-19 simply brought it into focus. Having survived a period of enforced remote working, corporates must look at how to invest in the technology and infrastructure to deliver this successfully.
Our recent global workplace study, Finding a New Balance, found that, on average, employees wanted to work three days in the office and two remotely. However, our research showed that just 27 per cent of UK workers felt their office was equipped. A lack of investment in hybrid- working technology will hinder many companies. They need to commit financially to hybrid working or risk losing valuable team members.
The comeback of the meeting room
Deprived of face-to-face interaction, employees long for the meeting room’s return. People are desperate not just for the human connectivity of meetings, but the creativity they foster too. Productivity remained intact during lockdown, but creativity plummeted.
Traditional meeting rooms are hubs of innovation, and 2021 will see them come back with a bang: 62 per cent of our survey respondents want to use meeting rooms over any other setting in a bid to fill the creative void left by the pandemic. Expect to see offices reconfigured for larger meeting spaces ideal for brainstorming and group collaboration.
Engagement will be the new productivity
Right now, employees are less engaged than ever. More used to multi-tasking during remote meetings and suffering from a lack of meaningful communication, workforces are distracted. Employee engagement will become the biggest tool to maintain productivity.
Employers should focus on ways to inspire their teams, and investment in home technology, for example, could prove vital to ensure engagement on remote working days. Studies have shown the benefits of high engagement are lucrative: increasing a company’s engagement by 10 per cent can grow profits by $2,400 per employee annually.
In 2020, Gen Z changed workplace culture. Having entered the workforce remotely, it expects freedom and places a surprising amount of importance on face-to-face connection.
As the workplace Gen Z population grows, the challenge for businesses will be to offer the freedom of remote working without sacrificing the human connection this generation values. We predict an increase in flexible working policies underpinned by collaboration tech, the use of which comes naturally to Gen Z, to accommodate the best of both.
Demanding more from our technology
This year saw the most intense period of learning in workplace history. Employees spent months mastering remote-working software, often struggling initially: 65 per cent of our survey respondents said they had difficulties setting up impromptu meetings.
Now that the steep learning curve is beginning to plateau, workforces will demand more from their technology, pushing its boundaries to meet their needs. For example, 56 per cent of our respondents favour working on laptops, therefore new technology will need to reflect this. We foresee rapid development in remote -work ing technology that optimises collaboration.
Difficulties aside, it’s unlikely a single moment will shift workplace culture so dramatically any time soon. After a year of imposed distance, collaboration technology will bridge the gaps between colleagues, providing the tools for better meetings as the workplace finds its new balance.
To find out more, visit www.barco.com/en