E-Handbook: Workplace of the future undergoes last-minute alterations Article 1 of 4

Tomorrow's on-site and remote work worlds need not collide

As offices gradually reopen for employees, C-suite concerns are laser-focused on coping with the lingering COVID-19 cloud. But what about plans for the workplace of the future now that long-term preparations for reconfigured offices and remote workspaces have been disrupted and accelerated by months and years?

Newly implemented safety protocols in the office, including social distancing, temperature readings, facemasks and contact tracing, are not going away anytime soon and will likely be part of the daily office regimen for the foreseeable future. And companies that were heavily weighted toward visions of an office-bound digital workforce in open, collaborative environments before COVID-19 now realize that the concept of employees working frequently, if not exclusively, from home is no longer a remote possibility.

Issues once viewed as negatives to a remote work environment -- infrastructure, collaboration, corporate culture, cybersecurity and worker productivity -- are now seen as positives due to technological advances and improvements in employee experiences. "Work flexibility," "better resiliency and agility," and "technology investments" topped the list of priorities among business leaders responding to a June 2020 PwC U.S. CFO Pulse Survey question on what will make their companies better in the long run. About half of those respondents also said they "plan to make remote work a permanent option for roles that allow it."

For the workplace of the future, AI, the cloud, collaborative software, video conferencing, virtualization and security will continue to play critical roles in on-site and remote worker productivity. According to Fortune, more than three-fourths of CEOs said they have "significantly accelerated" their company's digital transformation during the pandemic, and 40% are spending more on IT infrastructure and platforms. A Harris poll conducted on behalf of web app integration company Zapier found that 66% of workers who were abruptly transitioned to remote workplaces during the pandemic still prefer to work in an office setting, yet nearly the same percentage (65%) believe their productivity has since increased.

All of which sets the stage for this handbook as it peers into the "future shocks" of evolving office and remote workspaces and details what business leaders need to know about the profound effects of advanced technologies on employee experiences, management, collaboration and productivity.

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