Working from home is no longer a temporary phase, it is part of standard operating procedure in the new normal.

Prior to the global pandemic, working from home was considered a ‘good to have’ by organizations gearing towards providing staff with flexible working arrangements – as a result, the program was neither prioritized nor scaled enterprise-wide, across divisions and ranks. When organizations transitioned their workers, wholesale, to working from home, they realized that the benefits not only delighted staff but also provided advantages to the business (read my previous blogpost to learn more).

As the lockdown is phased out and businesses prepare to return to normalcy, they need to take stock of the fact that workflows and workspaces have changed forever. To thrive, they need to deploy a hybrid model where staff ordinarily works from home and comes to the office when they need to collaborate in person or innovate as a team.

Staffing firms Randstad NV, the Adecco Group, and ManpowerGroup, with support from Recruit, ASA, WEC, and others, recently prepared a best practices document for businesses moving back to physical workspaces. The key themes that underpin those best practices include (i) the need to remodel workspaces to create touch-free or contactless interfaces, and (ii) the need for social distancing in workspaces as well as canteen and recreational facilities.

Cisco believes that technology can help deliver on expectations that staff returning to the physical workspace have from their employers.

Webex, our web conferencing and collaboration platform, for example, allows customers with video endpoints in their meeting spaces and huddle rooms to join online meetings without touching the endpoint in any way. Our video endpoints are also voice enabled, allowing customers to minimize contact at work and operate in a safe and hygienic space.

Our experience says that developing contactless workspaces is easier than ever before today, with advanced technologies working behind the scenes to enable users instead of intimidating them.

Frankly speaking, leveraging technology is also the smartest way to enforce the social distancing policies that government agencies, international healthcare bodies, as well as staff are demanding. As office spaces transition to being the new catalysts of collaboration and innovation, Cisco’s video endpoints can also identify the number of people in a meeting space or huddle room and enforce limits to help adhere to social distancing policies.

The video below demonstrates how this works in the real world:

Given the fact that office spaces are set to change, facilities managers are keen to facilitate the transition for clients keen to make the investments. JLL’s Re-entry Guide to Working in the New Normal, for example, emphasizes the need to leverage technology as a key component when planning the next phase after the lockdown.

In my opinion, technology underpins the workspaces of tomorrow. For companies that want to stay ahead of the curve, accepting this early on is critical to getting ahead of competitors and thriving in the new normal with a hybrid workflow, where employees have a seamless, frictionless, and consistent experience, whether they work from home, on the go, or in the office.