min read

Getting back to the office

So where are we? Are we now experiencing the 'future of work', the 'new norm', or are we now planning or dealing with the 'new norm'? Or can the 'new norm' be planned for now as we are still coping with what is needed?

For the last 10 years I have been attending, speaking, even consulting around the topic of the future of work and what we could do to improve the experiences of people coming into spaces. After my first 2 years, I quickly dropped the word 'future' in all of my work because our customers wanted to take greater responsibility of the experiences for their employees and customers right now. Most looked at the vast choice of applications, hardware, and solutions available and just wanted to be 'better' based on what they could see, a few steps ahead of where they were now.

The future of work was therefore always based on tangible things within the reach of mere mortals and rarely impossible to accomplish. In fact, I do always wince when I see similar publications on LinkedIn predicting the future of work or the new norm because in most cases we are simply looking at ways of addressing the now.

For years people have been preaching that our desire is to work from home and the 3rd/4th space is driving change into the workplace. We needed to improve our workplaces and spaces to bring the outside->in, and offer greater sense of community like the tribes of Weworkers do. We required indoor positioning and 1000's of sensor to detect presence and improve productivity. There are indeed some truths to all of this, but the Covid-19 has stressed tested all of our existing beliefs about the employee's needs and what they value most.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face

This tragic crisis has been like a huge mirror being held up to most societies. It has exposed the weaknesses, the lack of investment, the inadequacies and changed the perception of what we all value in our lives. The good, the bad, and the ugly have appeared in front of us in the media or in our own communities over the last few weeks. It has exposed our fears and forced us to stay home and to recalibrate ourselves as to what is important in our life and work. And not everyone has been at home learning a new language or origami. It has been hard for some, impossible for others, and mentally challenging for all.

Companies have had that same mirror put to them as Covid-19 tested corporate policies on security, management styles, IT support, Cloud solutions, collaboration tools....AND an insight into people's various situations at home (working at home with kids, no adequate space to work at home), and what people truly miss about the office. If indeed they do at all. Many of those most critical to how we lead our lives do not have the luxury we have of being able to work from home. Therefore, a simple awareness of how lucky we are is also refreshing too, no?

What we do know is that the people we are creating experiences for now know exactly what they want...or rather don't want.

Therefore, the experience of work has become even more demand-led than ever before and companies need to address the now, more than ever.

Now' Happens

This crisis will surely leave its scars on the way we behave where shaking hands, sitting close to each other, eating and drinking coffee together will all be parsed through a new way of looking at the world. The 'new norm' will be changed in the way offices will be designed and how technology will be implemented. Crucially, we need to re-build trust and safety in our spaces for our friends and colleagues that work together with us and create better and safer experiences. This is a key driver in helping people come back to work.

So how can we do that ? Here are some of the things we have picked up in the last few weeks.

  • The company needs to continue to be or try and be human. Everyone has just been through a huge shock. Business as usual is not the approach. But collectively, people have something to share. Very powerful. The stories of how you acted, how it was to work from home, or the challenges they faced will endure. Get feedback..which is another way of saying 'talk to each other'.
  • Re-examine every user journey and look at it through the lens of COVID-19
  • Changing behavior is key. Washing hands. Social distancing in the office. Re-arranging the conference room chairs. Not leaning on each other's desks. No touch screens. Do you really want to be touching that Conf-call spider device? This is not me, but may be your user.
  • The low-touch economy is going to be key to everything we do. Contactless solutions, minimal touch pick-up points and online delivery will grow. This will revolutionize the 'outside'..what can you do inside ?
  • Off-site and dynamic Mobile access credentials, authentication and identification will be essential to allow for secure access, transactions, delivery, and payment. In simple words, you need to prove that you are who you say you are, dynamically and via your phone. Always. And this to maybe just get into a building or to simply use the coffee machine.
  • Cashless, Open and Closed-loop solutions will be a must. All vending, coffee machines, canteen solutions require the need for items to be dispensed with the minimal amount of 'button' or 'Screen' touching. Tap and pay will be the norm.
  • Self checking displays and digital signage displays will need to be constantly cleaned or re-thought entirely. We at any2any have always pushed for the concierge approach.
  • We believe that the phone will be even more powerful as the execution of experience. But only if it provides value and can really empower any experience transaction. Simply put...we need to add the next layer of functionality onto our phones.

Lastly....HUMAN is still key to the above. The rise in social media use shows that there is a demand for more connection. We don't all have to be eternally looking through a screen to talk to each other or create better experiences.

Positively, we believe that our any2any solutions are prepared for the now' and it is our thinking is helping us and our customers get through this. Our digital experience platform solutions such as Visitor, Residential, Access & Authentication, Parking, and Dallmayr Pay Closed-loop solutions are relevant to enabling that change. And our partners are all like-minded in trying to help us to help you. We are lucky.

Ultimately, we are in strange times together. We will get through this together.

But please just address the now, better.


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