Digital transformation was a trend before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has faced a resurgence of interest in light of the changes to the workplace we have faced in the last year, with organizations adopting new digital tools and processes to better support remote teammates. The term ‘digital transformation’ paints a broad brush, but at its core, digital transformation is the deployment of technology to change the way people within an organization work to streamline efficiencies.
As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out, there is an expectation that offices that have remained remote will re-open. While some companies have opted to implement a hybrid or fully remote model long-term, others, such as Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, have publicly announced their plans to bring teams back to the physical office this summer or by the end of the year.
It has never been a more important time to assess how the workplace must shift and how technology will play a role. Many executive teams have been preparing for this return to the office for months, while others are still developing plans. Regardless of timing, the notion of how the office itself will need to change remains an important consideration. The meeting rooms and spaces that employees will return to must look much different than the ones that they left.
While the option to be remote will still exist for many companies (as it did pre-pandemic), in-person collaboration continues to be the benefit that employees miss most about the office. According to a survey by Microsoft on hybrid work, more than 65 percent of those surveyed are craving more in-person time with their teams to collaborate. The new workplace requires a digital-first enterprise that seamlessly supports the way that teams work, meet, and connect – from anywhere.
I highlight three considerations for how to best implement digital transformation that fits the new needs of today’s workplace, below.
- Seamless collaboration is critical to workplace success long term – technology supports this.
The last year taught us that remote work is possible on a large scale, but it’s the in-person collaboration and connection that teams miss the most. Leaning on physical office space for in-person collaboration – whether they’re small group brainstorming sessions or larger, stand up meetings – will become more important than ever before.
As more employees head back into the physical workplace for in-person meetings and collaboration, they should be able to walk into any workspace, regardless of location, and easily get to work collaborating with fellow team members without a lot of setup time. Installing display technology for meeting spaces that support features like the ability to show cloud-based real-time annotations in a meeting with (and from) everyone on a call, and then saving and sending the meeting’s ideas and edits, make it easy to connect in-person teams with those working from home, across campus, or across the globe. They also foster a sense of connectivity by eliminating siloed conversations and meetings that are happening in-person with those still opt to remain remote. Technology will be a critical tool to supporting this flexible workstyle.
Interactive displays are the most robust and impactful way to ensure that the in-person collaboration that teams have craved for so long can happen effectively.
- Workplace technology must be able to bridge the gap between the home and physical office, with ease.
Remote work will still be an important benefit for many, but it also means that the back-and-forth between the home and physical office has the potential to disrupt both employee workflow and organizational AV/IT maintenance. The best approach is to develop a digital transformation strategy that supports technology that is plug-and-play, has native integration for the increasing number of enterprise services and platforms that employees use, and offers cloud-based maintenance and support.
Employees should be able to move from each style of work fluidly, for example, they’re in an in-person collaboration session in the office in the AM and at home working in the PM. They should be able to simply carry a single laptop device from each location and plug it in to any room to get started in meetings – wherever they happen to be occurring. Collaboration and UC technology can enable this seamless transition by replicating the in-person experience through video display technology, and vice-versa.
- With office real estate being evaluated more closely than ever before, analytics and data must become a part of digital transformation strategy.
Commercial real estate and office space is at a premium, from the basic cost per-square-foot to the amount it costs to manage those spaces. Decision makers are taking a hard look at what kind of physical workspace they will need to have long-term and looking to invest in the most prudent tools that enable communication and collaboration from anywhere. Data that helps decision makers better understand how employees now use meeting places will inform their long-term return-to-work strategies.
Analytics and data have always been an important driver in decision-making for the enterprise, but with the return-to-work post-COVID, they will become even more critical to ensuring both operational efficiency as well as ensuring employee comfort and confidence. Workspace intelligence analytic solutions built into workplace hardware, such as meeting room displays, allow enterprise decision-makers to take immediate action to re-evaluate meeting room, UC hardware and software ROI, as well as guide future planning.
Even for organizations that are still making decisions on when and how they will return to the physical workplace, it is important to think ahead at how the workplace will need to be supported by technology. Employee expectations around technology have changed. Enterprise decision-makers should plan a digital transformation strategy now that encompasses the specific needs of the new, collaborative workplace to ensure business continuity and employee satisfaction.