The way we work may never be the same again. In this post-COVID world, Microsoft Teams and other agile working technologies are giving organisations the opportunity to reimagine the workplace and embrace the workspace.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about the biggest shift in working practices in a generation. The established wisdom that the office was an integral conduit for productivity and collaboration has come into serious question, as organisations have embraced remote working on an unprecedented scale.
Lockdown and remote working looks set to be the established norm for some time to come, but forward-thinking organisations are already thinking about how the workplace will look in a post-COVID world. The work from home/work from the office binary deserves to be challenged, as communication and collaboration software like Microsoft Teams is making it easier than ever to increase productivity and collaboration regardless of location or device type.
It’s time to reimagine the workplace and embrace the rise of the workspace: giving users the tools they need, when they need them and in the most appropriate form to support their immediate requirements. In this blog we’ll explore how Microsoft Teams and other agile working technologies are giving organisations the opportunity to reimagine the workplace and embrace the agile workspace.
The Workspace in a Post-COVID World
As global management consultancy McKinsey & Company stated in a recent article, leading organisations are questioning commonly held beliefs around the role of the office and how work should be done. It’s become increasingly common for organisations to operate across different time zones and continents, and the lessons learned from these global organisations can help organisations even with a small geographic spread keep their people collaborative and productive.
Getting the Job Done: How People Work Together
In the early days of the pandemic, organisations sought to replicate the office experience from their users’ kitchen tables, bedrooms and home offices. Microsoft Teams has seen a massive surge in use in 2020, and it’s easy to see why: chat, channels, and meetings have made it so much easier for people to communicate and collaborate even in unfamiliar circumstances.
However, as the unfamiliar transitions to the familiar, organisations should consider how their values and culture should evolve and how the people, processes and systems that promote these values and culture should evolve with them.
How do you introduce new people to your organisation, and what role does the office play during those crucial early days, weeks and months? How do you brainstorm ideas now that the office whiteboard is locked away in a darkened room gathering dust?
Now is the time to restructure how your people work together digitally, and how your technology will facilitate this. Remember that in order to maximise your Microsoft Teams adoption and ensure optimal productivity throughout your organisation, you should work to embed the software as part of your working culture.
Applying Role-Based Principles
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the post-COVID world may actually strengthen organisations’ ability to attract and maintain talent. It’s never been easier to employ people working in different locations, and collaboration technology like Microsoft Teams has been a key contributing factor to this deepened talent pool.
However, before you begin searching for talent in far-flung exotic locations you’ll need to think about the types of role you’re recruiting for and apply role-based principles to all of your people. Typically, this will fall into three types:
- Fully-remote workers. These are people that can carry out their job roles entirely remotely, without the need to head into the office. Remember that these people will need to be comfortable working fully-remotely – it may not be for everyone.
- Hybrid workers. Hybrid workers will split their time between remote working and the office. Many people who could carry out their work fully-remotely will benefit from a regular cadence of face-to-face contact, making a hybrid model most appropriate for them.
- Onsite. There will always be roles that require people to be onsite at all times. When your people are onsite it’s important to ensure their working conditions are as safe as possible, and their technology experience is as one with your fully-remote and hybrid workers.
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Attracting the Best Talent
Increasing competition and the introduction of new, disruptive technologies are driving a need for innovation across the public sector. If your organisation wants to stay ahead of the competition it faces from the private sector, it will need to attract top talent through a combination of brand, technology and work/life balance.
The best candidates know their value, and will look to work with employers who meet not just their salary expectations but also their culture and career progression goals. Technology and the way you deploy it plays a major role in how you make your organisation’s values and culture tangible and not just corporate padding for presentations and recruitment packs.
Although Microsoft Teams has all the communication and collaboration functionality your organisation could ever want, it’s not enough for your IT team to simply deploy the software and leave your people to it. Take the time to get it right, and you’ll be able to attract the best talent and empower them with the tools they need to deliver excellent outcomes for your organisation.
Reimagining the Physical Office
We’ve come along way in the past 20 years. From the Office Space-esque cubicles of the 90s to today’s open plan layouts, the architecture of the physical office has – for the most part – aligned to the changing ways in which we work together.
But how will the office be reimagined in the post-COVID world? For many hybrid workers, the office will provide an opportunity to collaborate face-to-face with their colleagues. Organisations may move away from seas of desks to focus on meeting rooms and collaborative spaces in order to satisfy this need.
With the health risks associated with COVID-19 set to be prevalent for many years to come, a culture of hot desking may no longer be appropriate. At Six Degrees we have implemented a desk booking system, enabling our people to pre-book desks and allowing us to carry out proper cleaning and disinfecting every day.
Reviewing Your Office Real Estate
Office real estate is a key consideration for many of the public sector organisations we speak to. Maintaining a self-contained office space brings with it both commercial and environmental costs, and with many organisations moving onsite server estates to the cloud it makes sense to review office leasing arrangements at the same time.
Maintaining an office space that is at maximum half-full doesn’t make a great deal of sense. So how do you adapt? Do you move to shared office spaces that offer a commercially attractive ‘pay as you go’ model? Do you decentralise office spaces, moving away from the large central headquarters and towards a series of smaller regional hubs? Or do you buy yourself time by asking for a shorter-term lease that doesn’t tie you in for years to an office space that is rapidly becoming surplus to requirements?
The Rise of the Smarter Workspace
The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge to UK public sector organisations. However, new forms of communication and collaboration technology have opened up a whole new world of possibilities, enabling organisations to empower their staff and engage with their citizens even in these uncertain times.
In our new Smarter Workspace eBook we provide insights into how highly effective workspace communication tools are delivering agility and empowering workforces, transforming working practices and delivering benefits directly to citizens. Download it for free and prepare for a post-COVID world by taking advantage of the transformation of modern working practices available to your organisation.