On 12th October we hosted a webinar with Dr. Nicola Millard, Principal Innovation Partner at BT who discussed the ‘Ds’ reshaping our workplaces: Disruption, Dilbert, Distance, and Droids. If you didn’t manage to catch the webinar, here is a quick summary of the key discussion points around what the future of work may look like.

Disruption: Preliminary outcomes of the global working from home “experiment”

It is a well-known fact that the Coronavirus pandemic has rapidly increased the number of people working from home. 47% of people in employment in the UK are now doing at least some if not all of their work from home, compared to 28% pre-pandemic. This shift has led to 91% of the UK’s office workers stating they would like to work from home at least part of the time going forwards.

Working from home means that commute times have reduced and, in most cases ceased, meaning for individuals their working day now starts an hour later than it did. Yet despite this the average workday has increased by 48.5 minutes, suggesting people are still using some of their commuter time to work. Despite all the change and upheaval, 89% of workers feel they have been equally or more productive whilst working from home.

As a response, remote working technology moved fast but the working culture did not necessarily follow suit and is now playing a game of catch up. Now more than ever businesses need to trust their employees and move away from management styles that are constantly checking up and checking in. Measurement of effectiveness and contribution should be based on output and quality rather than hours and minutes. Companies need to ensure that good cultural behaviours are praised and that bad ones are called out and eradicated.

The death of Dilbert: the office is dead…or is it?

Many CFOs are beginning to question whether they need offices. Gartner* suggests that 74% of CFOs are intending to shift some employees (between 5% and 20%) to home working permanently.

So, what does this mean for the office? Whilst it is evident that moving to a remote workforce and closing offices would be cost-saving the impact on staff could have the opposite effect. The ideal solution seems to be companies giving employees the option of remote working as well as having an office for those who work better this way.

I don’t think for a moment that the COVID-19 pandemic is the end of co-located work — we humans thrive on face-to-face interaction, and our innovative spirit demands it. But what it will do is show more starkly than ever how we can embrace both the virtual and the physical and get the most from both. In the post-pandemic world, those leaders who are able to blend these ways of working will recover better and be more resilient for the future” Professor Lynda Gratton, London Business School

Businesses are now looking to explore the concept of ‘work from anywhere’

The death of distance: Meeting culture and the flip to video collaboration

During lockdown, statistics show that employees sent 5% more emails a day than prior and that 8% more emails were sent after business hours. We are having 13% more meetings than pre-pandemic, however, these are 20% shorter, so is working from home helping us get to the point quicker?

However, there are also drawbacks to be considered. One of the main issue’s companies have found with an increase in working from home is the lack of “serendipity” conversations that happen around the office, where many ideas were discussed in open forums. This communication may seem inconsequential however this is how subconsciously employees reflect and improve on projects they are working on and gain valuable insight and ideas from colleagues who they do not necessarily work with directly. The question for the future is whether it is possible to replicate this in some way for a continually remote workforce?

The rise of the droid: What do execs think about AI and robotics?

The AI and robotic future is here, and whilst 61% of employees say it would be good to get help from AI in their job, 56% fear the risks to job security that is associated with robots and AI.

It shouldn’t be human vs. machine it should be human and machine, as Albert Einstein allegedly once said “Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination”

The future of work is constantly evolving. As businesses move further along their digital transformation and cloud journey and adapt to the changes Covid-19 has made companies must ensure they find the right balance of remote working and wellbeing.

If you would like to watch the webinar in full please click here.

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