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IDC: The future workplace is hybrid

Automation tools for tracking assets and people, as well as speeding up HR processes, such as onboarding, will be needed to manage the post-pandemic hybrid workplace.

The hybrid workplace will prompt companies to invest in technology, including HR systems and office design. There will be a push for "technological parity" for remote workers. That might mean upgrading the audiovisual experience of remote and office work so that experiences can be consistent no matter where an employee is working on any given day, IDC said at its ongoing Directions 2021 virtual conference.

IDC predicts employees will have a choice about where they work, including a hybrid mix of home and work, as well as being fully remote. About 33% of employees will have to work on site full-time, according to IDC.

The pandemic is speeding up technology investment in digital processes and at a pace where "we made more than two years of progress in two months," said Amy Loomis, research director for IDC's future of work effort.

Companies are investing in AI to automate scheduling at offices and to manage a flexible workforce, Loomis said. This includes employee onboarding processes, automated recruiting systems and e-signature software for documents signed virtually, she said. Video conferencing systems are also getting an upgrade, a trend that's getting attention from vendors.

What does the end user need to stay productive, stay collaborative, but also look good when they're on camera?
David RabinVice president of global commercial marketing, Lenovo

"What does the end user need to stay productive, stay collaborative, but also look good when they're on camera?" said David Rabin, vice president of global commercial marketing at PC maker Lenovo, in an interview.

"This is an industry problem," Rabin said. Lenovo is working with vendors such as Microsoft and Google to solve it. It will prompt changes in software as well as hardware, including microphones and video capability.

Rabin said he sees the first part of 2022 as a starting point for substantial upgrades.

Hybrid work, an office redesign

The hybrid workplace will also effect how offices operate and deliver HR and facilities tools, a reality that could give way to new capabilities.

For instance, there will be demand for an updated assessment management system that tracks assets taken home by remote workers, said Juliana Beauvais, a research manager with IDC's enterprise applications team.

IDC post-pandemic hybrid workforce data
IDC survey data shows multiple hybrid workplace models in use. The results are based on responses from 728 business leaders for IDC's 'Future Enterprise Resiliency and Spending Survey' from February 2021.

The hybrid workplace will also need to provide a convenient way to ensure workers have the desk or office space they need when they come into the office, Beauvais said. IDC also sees increasing interest in "presence" systems, a name given to applications that lets employees know which co-workers are in the office and where to find them in the building.

Other tools include systems that report on the cleaning status of offices, as well as environmental monitoring tools.

IDC predicts that by 2025, about half of the global 2,000 "will have remodeled, relocated or reconstructed offices facilities," partly due to concern for employees in this hybrid workplace environment.

"We are truly in the dawn of a new era of workplace management applications," Beauvais said.

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