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Do you want to learn more about the workplace of the future? Back to the Future? After last year, when the global pandemic sent large parts of Sweden's workforce to the home office almost overnight, employees in certain industries are now beginning to return to the office. But what will these office environments, currently almost a remnant of a distant time, look like in the future? Experts suggest that our offices as we know them today must undergo a structural change in the future in order to survive in the new normal, as well as to attract and retain qualified staff. As one of the world's leading technology companies, Verizon Business knows how office environments can be transformed into safe, performance-enhancing and inviting places thanks to modern technology, thereby increasing employee satisfaction and productivity.

New ways of working require new jobs

Thus, in the second year of the global pandemic, one thing is certain: work structures as we have known them so far will probably never be the same again. Opinions differ on how and where people will work in the future, but most experts agree on one thing. Fewer and fewer will work in offices and even fewer will do so five days a week. However, the classic office does not seem to be quite as calculated as some have previously predicted. After all, many jobs require a physical presence, and this does not only apply in the retail and manufacturing industries. Second, humans are naturally social beings. Most likely, the office will continue to have a raison d'être, but, most experts agree that it must change in order to survive in a flexible, hybrid world of work.

More quality time: One of the benefits of teleworking

Among all the challenges that the pandemic has brought, the transition to a work environment at a distance has meant some directly positive aspects for many people as well. Many have saved a lot of time by completely eliminating the daily commute to work, while they have more time with family . Comfort and productivity are thus combined particularly well in the home environment. But even though many employees want to maintain a certain amount of a home office in the future, most do not want to completely give up the human relationships and benefits of working together in the office.

Flexible demand: Here's what motivates people to change jobs

According to the results of EY Work Reimagined's employee survey 2021, nine out of ten employees want more flexibility about where and when they work in the future. If they were given a choice, more than half of the employees surveyed (54 per cent) would prefer flexibility when it comes to determining their working hours, 40 per cent would like to see this flexibility in their choice of workplace. Interestingly enough, and not just in the light of the constant "war" on talent, is that people are really willing to change jobs to get this flexibility. In fact, the millennial generation is twice as likely to do it as the baby boom generation. Verizon Business believes that if the workplace in question can make the difference between losing and retaining employees, then it should be the top priority for companies to do the right thing. The good news is that a restructuring of the workplace does not even have to be particularly turbulent or entail high costs. How are you going to do it the right way? Verizon Business advises all companies to start by reviewing their goals. What does a modern workplace need to achieve in the future?

Flexibility makes people happier

During the pandemic, many have experienced that the home office's freer disposition of time suited them well and therefore there is a great desire to be able to maintain the flexibility in being able to decide for themselves when it is time to work, even in the office. Ultimately, this is also an important element of happiness and mental well-being. Verizon Business believes that well-being is rightly at the top of the priority list for forward-looking companies. Being perceived as an employee-centered employer is crucial to attracting and retaining the best talent – no matter what industry you are in.

Productivity: Home office almost overnight

The events in connection with the COVID 19 pandemic showed that it is important to have the right technology in place for long-term sustainability. Organizations with a flexible infrastructure were able to adapt quickly as early as last spring, enabling them to maintain both their operations and customer service. In early March 2020, as an example, Verizon's centralized crisis management team began preparing for the potential impact of business disruptions. Verizon's management was informed of the plans on March 11, followed by the company's other employees. – On Monday, March 16, all those we thought could work from home were set to actually work from home as well. On March 23, as many as 115,000 employees worked from home, instead of about 4,000 out of 135,000 globally, as it used to be, says Fredrik Hallenborg, Associate Director, Nordic, at Verizon Business. During the process, Verizon not only enabled too many employees to continue perform their regular jobs from home, but many employees could also be transferred to new roles. For example, retail employees who have been affected by widespread store closures could take on other tasks, such as telephone support.Do you want to learn more?

The hybrid work environment: From planning to implementation

Once the goals that a modern office environment must meet are defined, it is time to move on to the actual implementation of the restructuring. Fredrik Hallenborg continues: – Every company should ask itself what works well in their particular workplaces and what needs to be replaced, adapted or expanded. With the help of technology, for example, office space can be planned and managed smoothly. Visitor data can also be registered easily and securely. Thus, employees also know that they are protected in the best possible way in the office. Modern systems based on virtual and augmented reality technology are significantly more efficient in this respect than conventional room booking systems, as they use sensors to detect which rooms are actually used and not just which are fully booked. The same sensors can also be used to track room occupancy and issue an overload warning. – The good thing about having the right technology is that it can not only improve safety and cooperation in your workplace, but also make your job easier, ”says Fredrik Hallenborg. – Say goodbye to labor-intensive maintenance tasks. Sensors can help you plan and manage cleaning of common areas in an intelligent way. Was the desk used recently? Sensors can immediately detect, interrupt the coating and generate a warning that they need to be cleaned. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can also help improve monitoring without simultaneously increasing the workload. Face recognition systems can, for example, replace existing security systems, which eliminates the need for contact and reduces the risks of stolen identities and so-called tailgating – where an unauthorized visitor sneaks in behind someone. Despite all the motivated optimism, Verizon Business also warns that such a modernization process is complicated to implement and requires a lot of knowledge and expertise. – Implementing smart rooms and access control systems with face recognition is not just about cameras and sensors. These systems must be integrated with existing business systems – whether it is physical security or personnel registers. After all, you do not want to add many incompatible new systems with different interfaces and authentication requirements, Fredrik Hallenborg explains. – You must also collect all the data that comes in in an organized and fast way to be able to handle the large amounts of data. But regardless of whether it is new security technology or collaborative solutions, it is unlikely that systems that are unreliable or difficult to use will attract users – especially if they are designed to replace an existing solution. Fredrik Hallenborg sums up: – It is important to choose partners, implement technologies and design plans that allow you to adapt to all the changes such as demographics, consumer preferences and a competitive landscape entails. Evaluation of an office environment can be significantly improved with the help of real-time data you get via smart sensors and video analysis. And this in turn can help you develop a detailed understanding of your office property and how it is used. If something does not work as you thought it would, new technology can help you identify and adjust it faster. It is probably this speed and agility that is possible, which is the most important ingredient for success in the workplace of the future.Do you want to learn more about the workplace of the future?

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