Before COVID-19 became a regular part of our lives, organizations worldwide focused on increasing efficiency to reduce costs. Efficiency – the ability to do more with less resources – had been a main, if not the main, focus of many businesses. And while efficiency is still a standard operating procedure, it has been superseded by resiliency, at least for now. Why? Because the resiliency of organizations worldwide has been put to the test by the pandemic and is crucial to survival.
That giant blip on the radar called COVID-19 has highlighted a lack of resiliency for many organizations. Although most have business contingency plans, those plans assumed a disaster in a certain area, geography or line of business. But they failed to address organizations in their entirety. The result is that boardroom conversations have shifted to the need to develop resiliency procedures when situations go beyond basic mitigations protocols. Say, for instance, during a pandemic.
New plans and regulations pointing organizations toward resiliency are coming to the forefront. For example, going forward, hospitals may be forced to have three months’ worth of personal protective equipment on hand – just in case.
Work from home – a true test of resiliency
The immediate need for many organizations to transition to complete remote operations has provided a first-hand look at resilience plan development in real time. The quick exit from the workplace exposed where working remotely can be problematic: perhaps employees lacked the tools needed to work from home or organizations failed to have procedures for certain jobs to be performed remotely. However, this workplace exodus also provided opportunities for organizations to help other organizations make the transition. Think, for instance, how online video conferencing platforms have become a must-have for businesses to operate away from the office.
Pre-pandemic, many organizations didn’t think they would be able to transition to remote work at scale. In the United States alone, we went from 4% of people working remotely to nearly 100%. These forced circumstances will have a lasting impact on operations moving forward. In fact, a recent Gartner survey suggests that 41% of all employees will work from home permanently – at least some of the time.
The office of the future will change
As we enter the COVID-19 recovery phase and begin to bring employees back into the office, many changes are bound to occur. For instance, a smaller number of employees working in “bubbles” could be returning to the office every other day or week. As such, organizations are reevaluating the need for big offices in high-density, high-priced cities. Why have as many dedicated workspaces when employees can effectively work remotely?
During the pre-vaccination time in which we live, many employees’ home situations are make getting to and from office difficult – say, for instance, if working parents have small children learning from home, too. However, many people have a less-than-ideal remote working environment, physically and/or technically, and will want to return to the office.
Therefore, organizations must put the proper protocols in place to ensure a safe in-office working environment. The recently popular open working environment with no assigned seats most likely will become a trend of the past.
Meeting future business challenges head-on
At the end of the day, the ability for workforces to seamlessly do their jobs from wherever provides organizations (and their employees) with resiliency. And this resiliency will allow organizations to continue to address different kinds of challenges without impacting productivity.
Organizations will be held to higher safety protocols by their employees, customers and shareholders alike: the office of the future must accommodate a vastly different world and must approach tomorrow with resiliency top of mind.