DSI Zoom: Hybrid work requires new thinking

Over the past 14 months, it has become clear that working in the future will involve a hybrid environment in which some employees will work remotely while others will work in the office. At Zoom, we work hard to reinvent and support this vision by innovating and developing technologies that transform user experiences and bridge the gap between remote and office workers.

Hybrid work must be safe, inclusive, collaborative and exciting.

We strive to make it inclusive, collaborative, equal, secure and exciting so that people see that working in the office can have distinct advantages over working remotely for specific things like ideation, creating new products, new service offerings, etc. .

Before the pandemic, many organizations had strong beliefs about the nature of work. Some believed that employees were more productive when they were physically together, within the confines of the office. For this reason, many organizations by default hired workers who were located near offices. Hiring remote workers was not a universal strategy.

Today, these and other ideals have been challenged and proven to be false. Organizations have found that people can work remotely and are often more productive and happier than before. This includes all industries and geographies – even financial services, where remote working was once considered impossible, and professional services, where clients wanted consultants to be in offices with their employees. In other words, everything has changed for every industry in every geography.

[ Want more advice for your remote work strategy? Read Hybrid work: 3 truths leaders can’t ignore. ]

By embracing remote working, organizations have discovered the value of becoming geographically agnostic. By hiring, for example, organizations now have the freedom to seek out top talent from anywhere. These changes and many more are set to revolutionize the workplace as we know it, and who knows how the trajectory we are on now will change and accelerate in the months and years to come. . We should no longer be thinking about digital transformation; we have to think about a digital break!

Hybrid work and reinventing the office

As we think about the future, there are two big topics that technology leaders need to distinguish: the way we work and the purpose of the office. Both are set to change dramatically as organizations begin to adopt and use hybrid work environments.

In the future, “working” is something we do – it is no longer a place we visit. In the past we have all said, “I’m going to work now”. It was not a true statement; what we actually did was ‘go to the office’, and when we were there, we were working.

Organizations around the world are rethinking the purpose of the office: what the office should be used for, where it should be, and how it should be made up from a layout perspective.

Today, “going to work” means sitting in front of your computer in another room in your house or anywhere you visit (as is really WFA, Work From Anywhere) where you will be doing your tasks. This being the case for many people around the world beyond this pandemic, the question is: what is the purpose of the office?

Organizations around the world are rethinking the purpose of the office: what the office should be used for, where it should be, and how it should be made up from a layout perspective.

The answers to these questions will be very different from what they were in the past because employee preferences have changed. They have now experienced different work environments, tools and layouts, and they want those capabilities when choosing to work in an office.

Instead of being a place people come to every day to do their jobs, the office will be a place where people come together to imagine, interactively work together, reflect and collaborate because it is best done in person. Then they can WFA to do their job.

4 requirements for the hybrid office of the future

As the purpose of the office evolves, the physical space must also evolve in several ways. The office of the future must be:

  • Sure. As people return to work, most worry about the steps organizations are taking to make the workplace a safe environment. Factors such as air temperature, humidity and ventilation are important. People pay attention to the surfaces they touch and how close they are to others, so how are organizations going to address these concerns? People want smooth, touchless experiences.
  • Including. We have learned that technology can bring people together. While Jane may be in the office in New York and Joe is in Paris, the technology is removing that physical barrier so the two can connect for a meeting. Workers want smooth, accessible experiences from any device.
  • Collaborative. Technologies like digital whiteboards will allow workers to collaborate with people outside the office. People want the ability to co-annotate and tag content. These features are no longer optional; they are compulsory.
  • Exciting. In order to bring workers back to the office when we want to, the workplace needs to be innovative and fun. Technologies will help transform that.

The role of the CIO is more exciting than ever. Organizations know how essential technology plays and we know what is possible and what is not. If you’re not already thinking about how you’re going to support the distributed workforce on an ongoing basis, you need to start now. We are on the brink of the biggest shift in workforce and environmental dynamics.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

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