The ways in which we work have certainly changed over the last 18 months. We’ve worked from home where possible, we’ve begun to use new technology, and we’ve all embraced a new style of working. This has been met with mixed reactions – some people are desperate to get back to the office, to see their colleagues in the flesh, and perhaps get back to a “proper” desk setup for the first time in a while. And others would very happily stay working from home.
The one thing that’s clear is Technology is no longer a barrier to remote working. It is constantly improving and adapting, allowing us to work more and more efficiently from wherever and whenever we choose. At the start of the pandemic, Microsoft announced that due to the changes in working behaviour they achieved 2 years’ digital transformation in 2 months, and this has continued to develop exponentially since. Not only is this amazing growth, and growth that was impactful for businesses all over the world, but it also highlights that the changes in our working habits haven’t happened because of the pandemic, they were on the way anyway: being forced to work from home just acted as a catalyst that brought it to the masses sooner.
How and where we work isn’t the only thing at play here though. Company culture has been forced to adapt as well. The pandemic has allowed many people to “take stock” and revaluate what’s important. Commuting to work for an hour or more and working long days with few breaks, just isn’t what people are after anymore. And as the bosses of organisations have also had these reflections, businesses have become more focussed on employee wellbeing and provided a level of empathy that unfortunately was missing in a lot of organisations pre-pandemic. We all need to continue this trajectory and allow employees to work in a way that suits them individually.
This is why digital transformation is so important – it’s not just about the technology; it’s about what the technology enables. Let’s be honest, organisations that aren’t embracing change – whether that be having a Teams telephony system where people can make, take and transfer a call anywhere, or embracing flexible working, or simply valuing employees as people – are really going to struggle in the next few years.
So, will we ever work in the same way that we used to? We think the answer, for most organisations, is “yes” and “no”. We’ll likely end up with a mixture of office based and remote working. That will allow us to maintain the valuable lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic and make the most of the technology available to us, whilst also holding onto the benefits of in office working. “Hybrid working” seems to be the future.
What valuable lessons have you learnt over the last 18 months? How has technology impacted your working habits? We’d love to know your thoughts.