This is a guest Partner Voices blog. Any opinions expressed within the blog are those of the author and not necessarily held by Insight.
At Intel, despite our robust business continuity planning and cloud readiness, converting to a largely remote workforce was still a massive task. We had to double Intel’s VPN capacity over a single weekend and continue to simultaneously accelerate on-premises support. But by Monday morning, Intel employees around the globe were productively working from home.
Initially, working from home was thought to be a short-term solution. We didn’t imagine it becoming the norm. But months later, what we’ve all come to realize is that working from home works. In fact, a Gartner survey revealed 74% of CFOs plan to move at least 5% of their previously on-site employees to work remote — permanently.1
How — or where — we work is a key company decision. The future of work might not continue in a full-time remote capacity but will likely entail a hybrid of on-site and work from home. It might be a model where some teams work together in the office one day or split between the days.
The benefit of designating remote and on-site days for entire work groups is two-fold: You can both maximize the value of in-person activities and maintain the remote flexibility workers have come to enjoy without sacrificing an individual’s effectiveness during meetings. There’s a human reality that if you’re the only one remote and everyone else is sitting together in a conference room, you have a harder time playing an effective part of the conversation. It can be difficult to get a word in edgewise and even harder to follow the conversation when people in the room talk over each other.
Over the last several years, we’ve seen office trends featuring open workspaces, no individual offices, more huddle rooms — it all feels cool and modern, but one could argue that this was never employee friendly; it was about real estate. And especially as social distancing guidelines and remote work endures, organizations will rethink office layouts. Companies that do adopt full-time or rotating hybrid workgroups may also decide to downsize their square footage.
With enduring remote teams, we’re also expecting a long-term shift of people employed from various regions, further supporting the need for smaller office spaces.
When it comes to work, it feels as though there’s been an everlasting search for more time to spend on actual work as opposed to time spent organizing our calendars, attending meetings and just finding information. Those menial tasks are not fulfilling work. I think it’s safe to say we’d all prefer to spend the bulk of our day solving problems, creating, building models or uncovering ideas. But we’re just not there yet; we haven’t mastered the tools.
However, I do think we can get closer in the next few years and transform the work experience. We’re chipping away at the delta and I really think the solutions in the future will help jobs evolve to be more fulfilling. We’re figuring out how to adapt and get things we need to be truly productive. In our transition to remote work, we’ve been adopting and testing new apps. We’re determining which apps serve unique communication or collaboration purposes. We’re also finding — to no surprise — that more positive user experiences have a real positive impact on productivity.
It wasn’t that long ago when we began seeing open roles for Chief Innovation Officer and that felt aspirational at best. But how about a Chief Happiness Officer? That’s a realistic title, not one of those start-up funny monikers.
HR will grow to include more areas focused in mental and physical health, as well as physical and emotional safety. There will likely be substantial growth in social science roles in the organization, such as researchers, counselors or anthropologists.
We’ve gotten used to seeing the personal lives of our colleagues on these calls and that creates a new relationship dynamic with each other. That shouldn’t go away. I think jobs will have much more emphasis on that human element for years to come.
The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) isn’t a new role, but it’s prominence will shift and expand. A remote workforce creates a very large security footprint. Everyone will have a CISO, even the medium and smaller businesses.
Compliance is also going to be huge as we shift to the new, permanent remote work. Companies will have to build trust with the people they don’t see every day — not just about productivity, but also responsibility about working securely. Employees will have to become the “Human Firewall.”
Companies are already hiring Chief Trust Officers to focus on privacy and balance that tension between users wanting privacy and companies monitoring their activity. Already, we’ve seen a huge increase in employee surveillance tracking for user activities online. I don’t see that trend continuing in a way that makes people uncomfortable. It’s another area where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and telemetry data can work behind the scenes — not to spy on people, but to mitigate issues before they develop.
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1 Gartner. (2020, April 3). Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently.