Reducing your office footprint by 50% and nobody using it is far more expensive than reducing it by just 30% and having many folks use it. A purposeful workplace should be the objective.
We all now know the role of the workplace has changed. But one thing that has not is its role in connecting people. The difference is how it connects people now.
Before we learned about the work from anywhere culture that came with remote working, there was this gravitational push to the office to get work done. The pandemic forced us to work differently. We leveraged software and applications to service our needs as we worked remotely. This approach performed very well, and we remained largely individually connected.
As we begin to return to the office, the luxury of workflow fluidity we thrived on during our software-dominated remote work suddenly makes the office seem “very hard.” That hour in and hour out commute every day we once wrote off as part of life suddenly seems very friction-full. During the pandemic, if I wanted to meet with a group of people, all I needed to do was set up a calendar event and invite those folks. They would click on the meeting URL and join the meeting. It was relatively easy.
By comparison, if I want to meet a group back at the office, there’s a fair bit of logistics to manage….a lot more than just “meeting from home.” Making matters worse, unlike before the pandemic, not all people will be in the office at the time of the proposed meeting, so things have become exponentially more complicated!
If there are clear messages coming from the industry as we prepare for life after the pandemic, one of them is certainly that some form of hybrid working will have a role to play in most businesses going forward. This means the “compass” that the office served as the most logical place to connect people, time, and resources to get work done is far less predictable than it was before.
Hybrid working means the office will be leveraged by users differently in that its necessity will be drawn upon as the user deems it necessary. It’s their choice. This means the probability of everyone being in the office at the same time is extremely low. No longer is the office central to our connectivity universe like it was. We need to retool how the office connects.
No longer is the office just about connecting people. Rather, it’s about connecting those who are in the office to those who are not in the office at a given moment, and more importantly, connecting groups to groups, not just individuals to individuals. The hybrid workplace is not just a series of rooms, desks and chairs, but an ecosystem that has connective tissue across the much wider workplace landscape, but slanted such that the office itself remains the accelerator at the crossroads of everything.
To do this, you cannot architect your workplace under the falsehood of “build it and they will come,” unless the workplace has qualities that are capable of synchronizing digital workflows with workspace.
The office as we have known it, cannot solve this new way of working. Hybrid working will start to shape such that there will be more people external to the meeting than internal within the physical meeting room.
The office is a place that needs to compete with the home office and is capable of earning the right to host the employee. If the employee is going to invest all this effort to come into to office, what is the tradeoff? It needs to work harder for the employee. The office needs to remove workload, not add. The collaboration platform needs to natively integrate software and hardware, and that includes the office within the hardware pillar.
What if I could work like I did when I worked from home, where I just had to worry about connecting people and time? What if I could just meet and not have to always schedule a time to meet. What if I could just click a button on my laptop to join a meeting when I work from home, and my video enabled meeting in the physical room in the office just automatically connected and started?
What about when I take a call on my mobile phone, what if I could receive the call at my desk, but wonder off to a place where I prefer to talk? What if I could start my meeting at the desk on my laptop or handheld device, and walk to a room, and the room recognizes me, connects with me, and I can seamlessly move my call from my laptop to the device in the room? What if I just entered the office, sat down at a desk, and the desk just “knew me,” with the desk phone populating all my contacts seamlessly?
I work in a proper hybrid-enabled workplace. I have all these things and much, much more at my disposal. And new features are arriving seamlessly, almost every day. This is what happens when you take the collaboration platform you use to connect and integrate with the network, devices, and building environment…all using existing things in the office. No sensors or flashy Jetsons technology, just video endpoints and phones. This is possible because the collaboration platform is optimized for these everyday office devices.
What’s the result of all of this? The office connects to me. I don’t have to connect to it. And all those things I learned from using collaboration software while working remotely? I repurpose them in the office and don’t have to “learn things twice.” I can remove several very friction-full steps from my workflow in the office and save time and the anxiety that comes with it. I don’t meet one way when working at home and another way when working in the office. For me, it’s all the same. My collaboration is threaded across the much broader workplace and includes the office as an active participant. It does not compete with the office.
The office offers me an unmatched connectivity experience. I see value in coming to the office. Not all the time, but certainly more than I would otherwise. The office is starting to work for me, and it means I don’t have to compromise my workflows. Why? Because it’s just so easy. So frictionless, and I don’t require multiple devices either. It just works!
The hybrid workplace is far more blended than people imagine and attempting to solve with “either/or” means a certain compromise. One must enable this very broad workplace with consistency and stickiness across it, not separately.
We are converting our offices into smart offices, using existing office devices and recentering the office at the crossroads of collaboration using the connective tissue, Webex by Cisco.