As the world slowly crawls out of lockdown, we’re already beginning to see companies reconfigure how they operate – in the office and remotely.
While many employees will pick up where they left off, others will witness their roles change. But which will be most affected? How will different roles change on a day-to-day basis?
Let’s give this a little consideration.
No Going Back?
A lot of companies and their employees have adjusted to life under lockdown very well indeed. They may have had no option other than to work remotely, but those with the right IT configuration, collaboration tools, and videoconferencing tools have largely been able to function easily in a remote setting.
However, given many of the benefits that knowledge workers in particular have been able to enjoy – no commute, flexible start and finish times, fewer interruptions, and a better work-life balance overall – will they want to go back to an office-based 9-5 routine?
From both an employer and employee perspective, there may well be a compromise. For example, it may be that essential office staff only come in on certain days, while others have the option to work from home on a more full time basis.
One of the biggest disruptions we’ve experienced in the COVID-19 lockdown has been the inability to work with colleagues and visit clients in person. However, given the range of communication platforms, we’ve largely been able to carry on as normal – albeit with fewer impromptu chats around the water cooler or during coffee breaks.
Some roles, however – such as field sales teams – are finding the prospect of conducting all of their business via phone or videoconference is something of a paradigm shift. But the ease of use, reduced costs, and time savings are not to be overlooked.
It may be that moving forward, there will be fewer in-person meetings, with only a few taking place with key accounts when necessary. But given the numerous communication platforms available, the nature of these relationships may well be built and maintained virtually moving forward.
Ultimately, the more knowledge-based a particular role is, the bigger the potential impact will be on the way their day-to-day work takes place. We’ve seen that productivity can be maintained; that there are many efficiencies possible given the speed at which data can be processed and automated; and that there are reduced costs from both a financial and environmental perspective.
However, all of these changes will be largely positive. And some jobs – such as contact centre work, which have been slow to adopt remote working – will be better equipped to work from home thanks to the communication tools available.
Trust and transparency are at the heart of remote working. Roles that change will simply rely on online delivery models – using analytics to make faster, data-driven decisions.
But that said, perhaps the biggest shift will be in the IT department. If different business units can take over the procurement and management of their individual SaaS products, there’s an opportunity for IT support staff to work on more strategic projects, rather than troubleshoot business user help desk calls.
Either way, their roles will change – no doubt about that.