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The future of work

By Rodney Weidemann (Cisco)

As employees begin returning to the office, companies will need to leverage technology to enable this new form of hybrid working to take place in a safe and secure manner.

Over the past year, as the world has dealt with enormous uncertainty and unexpected hurdles, there have also been numerous examples of incredible resilience from people and organisations, as they navigate what has been a changing and unpredictable journey.

Although work from home (WFH) has become the ‘golden child’ of lockdown, the reality is that the future of office work is likely to be hybrid.

Garsen Naidu, GM, Cisco Sub Saharan Africa.
Garsen Naidu, GM, Cisco – Sub Saharan Africa.

Is it any wonder, suggests Garsen Naidu, GM for Cisco Sub-Saharan Africa, that there is an increasing availability of purpose-built technology and solutions that help companies reimagine how they work – and keep employees safe while creating a trusted workplace that helps enable a safe return to office. 

He points out that as we move forward, we will see a co-existence between people who go back to the workplace and people who will choose WFH. Companies, he says, will have various algorithms and models to help rotate employees and ensure they do not work with a full office occupancy for the foreseeable future.

“Employers will need to take a hard look at how they operate their offices as people come back and think about what technology can do to assist. For example, they could consider the use of cameras and sensors to monitor how many people occupy spaces. These could then provide alerts if there are too many people in an area and social distancing is not possible – a use case that is applicable beyond the office, to environments such as production plants or warehouses as well,” he says. 

“Other sensors could be implemented to monitor if people are wearing face masks; voice commands can be deployed as a safer option to touchscreens; or they may install a smartboard in a meeting room, which can inform you how many people it can accommodate and when it was last cleaned.” 

Naidu also suggests that, going forward, the vast majority of meetings will have at least one remote participant. Therefore, companies will need to be prepared to have collaboration solutions to bring in those who are in the room as well as those who joined remotely, on an equal footing.

“The need to be agile is imperative. Eliminating complexity, better integration of security, and the ability to automate processes have become a necessity. As many of us continue to work from anywhere, or in a hybrid environment, shifting workplace and customer needs present new challenges on a daily basis.”

“With an evolved, intelligent, cloud-managed platform, customers can quickly adopt a digital-first model that enables them to move rapidly and deliver more value.” 

In this new digital world, organisations need to transform their workplace for a hybrid workforce and create a more inclusive future of work for all. This transformation, continues Naidu, requires enterprises to prioritise adaptable, engaging and trusted work experiences for their employees, customers, communities and ecosystems. 

“Business agility and resilience are core to this transformation, with research revealing that 90% of CIOs and IT decision-makers believe that, in the future, business agility and resilience will be inextricably linked.

“This exemplifies the need for tools that connect, secure and automate technologies and applications in order to transform at scale and bring the workforce and workplaces together – regardless of where employees work,” he adds.

Realistically, he adds, businesses need to adopt tools that can:

  • Empower a workforce to securely work from anywhere, on any device, at any time.
  • Enable a safe return to office by transforming offices and facilities optimised for productivity into trusted workplaces connected for health and wellness.
  • Break down the barriers of different geographies, personality types (such as introverts and extroverts), language preferences and tools to fully realise communication experiences where everyone is included.

“Ultimately, the need for a workforce that’s protected and connected from anywhere, on any device, requires businesses to be more agile and to prioritise digitisation, automation, security and collaboration. In this way, they will be able to create trusted work experiences for employees and customers,” concludes Naidu.

Originally published on ITWeb

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