The new year looks promising for the corporate world. Most offices are returning to a new normal, and company managers are focused on how they can make a hybrid work environment work for everyone. Ensuring a universal experience for all team members, regardless of where they work, should be a top priority.
Technology is one component that will be crucial to the success of any business. The distinction between corporate strategy and technology strategy is blurring, finds a report from Deloitte, each needs to inform the other. Organizations are using technology to identify internal and external strategic forces, make informed decisions, and assess outcomes. The companies that use technology well will be in a position to transform strategy development from an infrequent, time-consuming process to one that’s continuous and dynamic. As a result, they will be able to grow and work more efficiently.
Below are some of the most significant office technology trends that top-performing companies will embrace.
Most offices are already on the cloud, and this trend is expected to continue growing. The cloud can improve and streamline all sorts of processes, but companies appreciate how much it can help with collaboration, project management and data organization. It’s much easier to store and share documents online, and it’s easier to find them there, too. If an employee leaves, or if there is a natural disaster that damages some of the office, the company can still access the items it needs, no matter what device staff are working from.
Zero trust security
The cloud is incredibly convenient, but depending on where and how data is stored, it isn’t 100% secure. Zero trust is rooted in the concept that companies cannot trust every user, workload, device, and network. In zero trust architectures, every access request must be validated based on all available data points, including user ID, device, and location. Access is provided to people on a need-to-know basis. Permissions can always be relaxed if necessary, but it’s easier to do that than try and revoke permissions once they have already been granted.
The move to zero trust could require significant effort and planning. It won’t be an overnight process, and some may complain about minor inconveniences. However, a security breach can cause monumental harm to a company and its clients, and it’s simply not worth taking that risk.
Workplace management software
The post-pandemic workplace is expected to shift from an environment where people come into work, to a place where teams can meet and socialize in person. So, on those days when team members are working from home, technology tools will be necessary for management, collaboration and communication.
Workplace management software can equip managers and staff with the tools they need to operate in and out of the office. Depending on the platform, it will address the “front-office” and “back-office” tasks. A platform like Office Control helps automate and simplify service requests or work orders, visitor management, communications, desk booking, asset management, and more.
- Desk bookings or desk hoteling
Companies encouraging their staff to take advantage of flexible work arrangements will still need a process to ensure capacity limits are maintained and people aren’t wasting time trying to figure out who gets the meeting room first. A desk booking feature allows staff to book the spot they want, one the day that they want. The software may even have a mobile app so that employees can manage their workweek from their phones.
Management has the authority to set the number of available spaces, and determine how often an employee can book a workstation in a week.
- Automating office tasks
Workplace management software also allows management to optimize work order lifecycle tracking. This helps to create an environment where accountability is prioritized and used to develop offices that are happy and productive. If an electrical outlet isn’t working, or the heat needs to be turned off, employees can submit new online requests. All requests can be monitored and updated from one space, so issues get resolved in less time.
Similarly, instead of trying to keep track of every asset using a paper and pen, the software lets management create detailed profiles and custom barcodes for each chair, computer, headset, etc. Easily see when asset profiles were created so that you can prepare for when they will need to be replaced.
Digital onboarding and training
If all employees are working at the office only some of the time, managers have the capacity to hire more people without having to rent out a bigger space. But onboarding and training can be tricky, especially if it must be done remotely. A poor onboarding experience may cause a good employee to reconsider their decision to join a new team. As such, companies must be able to teach and communicate in a way that resonates with new staff. That might mean making short, informative videos, or hiring someone who is in charge of educating all staff from wherever they are working.
Bring your own device (BYOD)
It feels as though there is more trust between employees and employers since work-from-home policies have been introduced. Not only has this helped with workplace flexibility, but companies are becoming increasingly comfortable with employees using their own devices at work. BYOD has benefits and risks, but progressive companies realize that this is the way of the future, especially as freelance and remote work become the norm. Plus, companies end up spending less on desktop replacements and storage when staff are permitted to use their own laptops.
Internet of Things devices
An office space equipped with Internet of Things (IoT) devices is often referred to as a smart office because virtually everything can be measured, tracked, and/or controlled.
Generally, offices that use IoT devices offer greater flexibility and encounter less conflict. The tech tools help to optimize office space by tracking when and how spaces and items are used. The data can help managers spot patterns that they never saw or thought about before.
Security cameras, smart locks, and sensors are probably the most popular IoT applications for offices. These items let employees enter spaces using their phones instead of a physical pass or key.
Smart lighting solutions give companies the power to conserve energy without sacrificing employee comfort. For example, light sensors could be installed so that the lights go out if the space has been empty for more than half an hour. Similarly, smart thermostats will create an optimal room temperature so that staff feel comfortable working. The temperature might drop automatically after 7 pm, and return to a comfortable room temperature by 8 am.
Communication and collaboration
IoT-enabled conference rooms present a wide variety of opportunities to make it easier to work in the office. Smart scheduling systems for meeting rooms ensure that spaces don’t get double-booked.
Standing desks have become a common thing in the office. However, the next version of accommodating workstations will be able to understand people’s unique preferences and adjust to their needs automatically.
Enhanced wireless infrastructure
As employees slowly return to traditional offices, it’s important to evaluate the company’s wireless infrastructure to ensure that the bandwidth and coverage can support the business. There will undoubtedly be more video calls taking place on office networks, and most companies had not planned for that type of heavy usage before the pandemic.
The tools and strategies mentioned in this article will help companies become more flexible, adaptable and competitive as the workplace continues to evolve. Companies that can integrate these technologies with their current business strategies will find themselves in a much more comfortable position than those that are unable to find solutions for their specific needs and goals.