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Cisco and Freeform Dynamics Explore the Modern Workplace

< 31 July 2020 >

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The evolution of the workplace has accelerated since the start of 2020. Many companies started the year with plans to gradually introduce new technologies and flexible working routines. Yet, out of nowhere, countless organisations ended up implementing new concepts overnight.

The sheer speed of the transformation that occurred this year will cement 2020 in the records of history, as one of the most disruptive ages in recent memory. As the year unfolded, countries had to adapt to social distancing and new working models. Yet, out of this crisis, companies also began to learn new things about how to explore home working.

According to Cisco and Freeform Dynamics’ latest study, 6 essential lessons stand out most in this new environment. These are:

  • Learning what business agility really means
  • Discovering the value of modern technology
  • Understanding workforce productivity
  • The essential social interaction
  • The future of wellbeing and health
  • Extended opportunities for talent

The result of all this learning is that 74% of today’s companies say that their business will emerge from the crisis stronger in many ways.

Rediscovering Agility

The first lesson highlighted by the latest study focused on agility, and what it means. According to the report, agility is a word frequently overused, which refers to the ability to respond rapidly to changing conditions. However, the COVID-19 pandemic showed many companies that they weren’t as agile as they thought.

Companies can’t just hold agility as a loft ideal or abstract concept. Organisations must put behaviours and systems in place to support agility and overcome barriers to change. The significance of becoming a genuinely agile company has become essential for companies. Today’s businesses know that they need to begin moving a lot faster. This is evidenced by the report statistics that showed only 13% of respondents saying that ramping up remote working was “very easy”

The Value of Modern Technology

Aside from adapting the correct mindset and culture in the agile business, companies also need the correct technology. Covid-19 highlighted some of the constraints that today’s companies suffer from. The result is an increase in companies that understand and appreciate the true value of cloud technology. Around 67% of respondents said that the pandemic accelerated their adoption of cloud communication tools.

Another 58% of the people in the study said that people are actually using the tech that was available to them already, but often went ignored. These findings demonstrate how crucial it is for business leaders to really take advantage of the right tech solutions in the current environment. It’s not enough to just have the right tools in place, employees need to be comfortable using them.

This is particularly true in the case of collaboration tools, which have become the “new normal” for countless companies.

Rediscovering Workplace Productivity

Another lesson highlighted by the study was the ability to rediscover the nature of productivity in the workplace. Employees new to home working found that they were much more productive without the distractions of the physical office. This introduces companies to the idea that they might not be creating environments that are most valuable to productivity.

Around 48% of people in the study said the biggest issue that they discovered in response to the pandemic was some disruption of processes and workflow. 28% of respondents said they experienced a lot of this problem. Similar issues arose with day-to-day coordination of staff. However, many businesses also saw just how productive their employees could really be when working from home.

This introduces companies to new best practices, like enabling flexible working hours, which 49% of teams said they will continue to implement. Another 53% of businesses said they would be trusting their employees more long-term.

The Importance of Social Interaction

One of the biggest impacts that COVID-19 had on the world, was the reduction of our ability to connect with each other. 64% of companies experienced challenges with staying connected to colleagues through water-cooler and kitchen style conversations. Organizations face a loss of engagement because companies don’t have the option to bond outside of workplace discussions.

Companies have begun to implement solutions to this problem. For instance, 67% of companies say that they implemented social video conferencing experiences, and 54% have started using social chat channels. Another 46% of companies are using newsletter catchups, ad 36% are investing in interactive quizzes and competitions.

Going forward, it will continue to be essential for businesses to maintain opportunities for social interaction and human connectivity in the new workplace.

Changes in Health and Wellbeing

The impact that the pandemic had on health and wellbeing is extremely profound. Many organizations have mobilized to wide-spread homeworking at a higher rate. Several have met challenges in acclimatizing to the new space. In the survey conducted of 100 IT professionals, 76% said that employees found it difficult to maintain work-life balance. Around 73% also said that they struggled to maintain staff morale.

In-depth analyst interviews revealed that the focus on wellbeing and health has become a lot more significant. As a result of the pandemic, around 47% of companies say that they’re implementing employee wellbeing strategies long-term. Another 56% of respondents said that they would be paying more attention to employee engagement and feedback long-term.

Extended Talent Opportunities

Finally, the Cisco report revealed that as many companies have pivoted to home working, organisations have witnessed how successful virtual working can be. Leaders are facing a serious shift in public opinion. We’re all asking essential questions about future hiring practices.

Indeed, it seems as though the pandemic will change the meaning of the workplace for everyone. 33% of companies said that they would probably be introducing a more inclusive recruitment policy for a broader talent pole. Around 35% of organisations also said they’d probably be looking at people from a wider geographical area.

These progressive thought patterns also appear in analyst interviews, where many professionals have started looking at a broader pool of talent.

Learning from the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a terrible experience for all of us. However, what Cisco and Freeform Dynamics have done with their latest report, is introduce some of the positive lessons that we can learn from everything that’s happened.

The pandemic struck and changed the lives of the entire world. Now all that companies can do is determine where to go from here.

 

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