The global pandemic has heralded a new era for the modern workplace. People now enjoy more flexibility than ever before with how and where they work. But as we navigate this new world, individuals and organisations alike are challenged by the need to preserve many of the qualities that humans crave in the workplaces – physical connection and collaboration. Technology has an important role to play in helping to achieve this, especially if supported by people-focused leadership.
Nutanix recently commissioned a series of IDC InfoBriefs on the future of work and digital workspaces. Findings revealed the top organisational challenges as a result of COVID-19 and the emergence of new working models. It showed 42 percent of global companies expect to prioritise workplace transformation as a result of the pandemic and that c-suites are focused on building future-oriented digital workplaces that can be sustained for many years to come[i].
IDC also found that while the pandemic created a huge rush to get technologies out to employees to enable them to work, the context in which decisions are now being made is quite different. Leading businesses now consider how people are interacting with the technologies they’re using. It’s less about people adapting to technologies and more about reshaping the technology to adapt to people.
IDC suggests that to navigate the challenges that come with such transformation and retain staff, business leaders must embrace a new type of people management, with key performance metrics that reflect this new working environment. This includes meeting health and safety regulations across hybrid workspaces, supporting employees’ mental well-being, facilitating effective team building through cross-team activities and adding a human touch in other ways. To deliver this, organisations need robust, resilient IT infrastructure. One that ensures employees can work as well remotely, as they do in the office.
Questions for those starting out
Beginning your career in this new work environment, or pivoting back into it after some time away? It’s important to know where your employer stands on hybrid working models, and what structures they have in place to support your growth and development. If the organisation is embracing hybrid working, or has a preference for fully remote work, ask what the onboarding process is like. Question how the company facilitates on the job training and more formal learning opportunities, and what sort of IT infrastructure they provide. Gone are the days of hardwired desktop computers and internet cables for the average office worker. With a laptop, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), virtual private network (VPN) and internet connection, you can work almost anywhere.
As for on-the-job training, ask how your employer is facilitating this type of learning, and what connectivity tools they use to ensure staff are empowered to ask questions of their teams and leaders. Does the company provide training of their systems to help you self-service your queries? Will you be buddied up with a more experienced team member, to ask these questions of, or will your line manager play that role?
Unified Communications and video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, are now commonplace for most businesses. Running on the cloud they too can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Organisations processing and storing lots of data, may also give you access to a database as a service (DBaaS) system, so you can access the same information no matter where you’re working. Organisations supporting hybrid and remote working need to ensure that all staff have equal access to the information and digital tools required to do their jobs, regardless of location.
Mental health and wellbeing
By 2025 IDC predicts 55 percent of Global 2000 firms will have remodelled, relocated or constructed office facilities for the purpose of improved employee health protection and optimised business continuityi. The same philosophy should also be used to transform how businesses support employee mental health and wellbeing.
The pandemic took a huge toll on many people’s physical and mental health. With some people having worked 20 months or more from home, organisations now face the task of helping employees overcome fatigue and burnout. In the office, this can be easier to identify and support, but it’s also possible with employees that work remotely.
Workplaces can create holistic and welcoming remote environments, to replicate the positive engagement employees get in the physical office space. Whether it’s a regular all-team lunch, or a quarterly afternoon meet-up with team building activities, or monthly coffee catch-ups over video, these can help employees feel supported by their workplace. Of course, this is in addition to more formal employee support systems, like employee assistance programs, allowing staff to use sick or alternate leave to take time off for their mental health, and normalising the importance of bringing one’s whole self to work.
Navigating new technologies
Another challenge and opportunity with the future workplace is introducing senior employees to technology they have never used before. This can feel quite daunting for non-digital natives. Organisations must be empathetic and project themselves into the shoes of their workers. Ongoing training and safe spaces for employees to inquire about technology queries they may have is paramount for the retention and engagement of this cohort.
At Nutanix, we have multiple training programs to ensure both our employees and our customers feel comfortable and well equipped to use Nutanix technology. The Nutanix University certification also enables Nutanix users to have the skills and understanding needed to manage and deploy Nutanix technology. Our multi-level certification program provides a learning and development path for people to follow as their experience grows. We also have a huge focus on diversity and are focused on attracting a broad range of employees, located anywhere in the world, to help us grow and deliver on our goals.
The workplace of the future is a tangible yet malleable entity. Business leaders and employees alike have important roles to play in creating environments that enable connectivity, productivity, and foster greater wellbeing.
[i] IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Nutanix, Future Workplace, #EUR147539621, May 2021