Sunday, 19th September 2021
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COVID-19 and the future of work: two things you need to know

Hybrid models are here to stay and the employee experience has never mattered more. By Tim Minahan, EVP of Business Strategy and CMO at Citrix.

There’s finally light at the end of the long, dark tunnel we’ve all been navigating for the last year. And as we begin to look forward and plan for the future, we need to come to terms with the fact that work will never be the same. The global pandemic has permanently changed the way both organisations and their employees view how and where work will get done. And things are not going back to the way they were.

If there’s anything this crisis has taught us, it’s that work can be done from anywhere. And it will.

When asked how they would prefer to work post-pandemic, 52 percent of more than 7,000 respondents to a recent survey conducted by Citrix and OnePoll said they want a hybrid model where they can choose to work remotely or from the office each day, while 16 percent indicated they have no interest in returning to the office and would prefer a permanently remote role.

There’s No Going Back…

Employers are taking note. “Work from anywhere is not a pandemic play,” said Jose Guereque, Executive Vice President of Infrastructure and Chief Information Officer, Teleperformance. “We will keep the hybrid scheme forever as our permanent model.”

And others will follow suit. Why? Because remote work works.

Throughout the pandemic, both companies and their employees have seen the benefits that more flexible work models can bring in terms of productivity, engagement and well-being. According to Citrix research, 77 percent of employees work the same or more hours at home, and 69 percent say they are more productive in doing so.

And employers have been impressed with the resiliency and innovation they’re demonstrating.

“COVID-19 has enabled us to see how easily our financial advisors and accountants could adapt to new work styles very quickly,” said Andrew Griggs, Senior Partner, Kreston Reeves. “Creative employees have implemented new ways of solving traditional problems that will help us fine-tune and accelerate some strategic initiatives to better serve our clients as we go forward.”

…But Things Need to Change Going Forward

To sustain such benefits, how work gets done will need to change too. The blocking and tackling companies needed to do to get their teams working remote is complete. They’ve given their workforce the tools to connect to the resources they need to get work done – wherever it needs to get done.

But all the great productivity they saw at the beginning of the pandemic is waning because the tools they’ve put in place, while designed to make employees more effective while working from home are increasingly distracting them from their core work, causing mass fatigue and adding to their frustration.

They may be working longer hours, but employees are accomplishing less because they’ve been given too many tools that constantly interrupt them, cause them to switch context across different apps and interfaces, and don’t foster efficient ways to engage, collaborate and execute work.

According to the Citrix-OnePoll survey,

· 41 percent of employees face distractions in their home environment (children, pets, etc.)

· 28 percent lack appropriate technologies and applications to get work done

· 36 percent feel isolated and out of touch with colleagues

Experience Matters

“The need to provide a simplified work experience for employees has never been more critical,” said Mark Bowker, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group. “To keep employees engaged and productive in today’s hybrid work environment, companies need to not only provide secure and reliable access to the resources they need to do their jobs, but tools that enable them to work more efficiently and effectively across work channels, devices and locations.”

This can’t be done by cobbling together individual chat and collaboration technologies that force employees into yet another way of working instead of working the way they work. What’s needed is a platform that does three things:

o Unifies work – Whether at home, on plane or in an office, employees have consistent and reliable access to all the resources they need to be productive across any work channel, device or location

o Secures work – Contextual access and app security, ensure applications and information remain secure—no matter where work happens.

o Simplifies work – Intelligence capabilities like machine learning, virtual assistants and simplified workflows personalise, guide, and automate the work experience so employees can work free from noise and perform at their best.

In essence, businesses need to put an experience layer between people and technology that removes the distractions from employees’ days and allows them to work the way they want.

Working their Way

Today, most IT organisations adapt work to the way systems function. In the future, they will need to adapt systems to the way employees work if they want to keep them happy and productive. As many companies have learned through the pandemic, digital workspaces are an effective way to do this, as they provide a platform that enables employees to:

· Efficiently engage with the apps they need to get work done without having to navigate them and execute work across multiple systems

· Collaborate without being forced into another way of working and IT organisations to:

· Personalise the work experience by building workflow extensions that surface key insights and tasks from key systems of record and automatically deliver them to employees so they can focus on the work that matters most and execute quickly.

· Drive more efficient work and better business outcomes through collaborative work management tools that enable individuals and teams to, among other things, share goals and align on direction, interact in high-quality ways and focus on work that matters and enjoy it.

So much about the future remains unclear. But one thing is certain: hybrid work is here to stay. And to emerge from the pandemic in a stronger, better position, companies must find a way to simplify work and give employees the space they need to succeed.


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