Optimal Digital Work Experiences Will Require Office Makeovers
To be ready to support a digital workforce, businesses will have to rethink the layouts and technology stacks of their physical offices, Sehlhorst says.
Pre-pandemic workplaces tended to be static. Only a minority of conference rooms were video-equipped. Virtually all employees worked onsite at the same desks each day, almost entirely on employer-provided laptops and desktop computers. Business applications were typically maintained in onsite data centers, protected by a perimeter-based security architecture.
The pandemic pushed much of that offsite, with workers using a mix of employer-provided devices and their own tools, logging into meetings remotely and working on cloud-hosted applications secured through zero-trust architectures. Those once buzzing offices stood empty.
Post-pandemic, many offices will be smaller, with fewer workstations; employees will use technology to reserve workstations on days they visit the office. Those offices may need digital signage to direct people to the right places, and businesses will have to consider equipping workstations with second and third monitors, telephone headsets, ergonomic mice and keyboards and whatever other hardware employees need to work efficiently.
Overall, employers will have to think carefully about their workers’ day-to-day experiences interacting with technology and each other, wherever they’re physically located on a given day, in order to optimize that experience every time for worker productivity and long-term retention.
“How do we have that seamless integration where we could have five or six people in a conference room and 10, 15 people remote and still have a great experience?” says Tony Oquendo, a collaboration sales manager at CDW.
Virtually every conference room will need to be video-enabled, and Wi-Fi will become vital.
“All that needs to really feel smooth and connected,” Sehlhorst says. “We’re going to start to see offices be redesigned for flexibility, and people will be going to the office to collaborate.”