Navigating the new digital wave for the post Covid-19 workplace

Digital transformation is critical for many organisations navigating their return to the office, but how can leaders navigate through the maze of emerging technology solutions? A new report by Samsung charts a path forward

Digital transformation is in the spotlight currently as organisations look to smart solutions to enable their workplace strategies for the future. But while technology solutions may provide the biggest opportunities for workplace strategists going forward, the pathway to digital transformation can be complicated, confusing and difficult to get right.

A new report by Samsung, in partnership with WORKTECH Academy’s sister company UnWork, explores how we will work in the future and what emerging technologies will facilitate these new ways of working. The report, ‘Digital Workplace: towards the next normal’, aims to be a beacon of light for corporate real estate leaders, facilities managers and workplace strategists to help them understand future workplace demands and guide them on the first steps of their journey towards digital transformation.

Shifting away from the office

One of the paradigm shifts that has occurred as a result of the pandemic is the pivot away from the office. Technologies such as the cloud and Microsoft 365 allow software to be accessed from anywhere, so employees can in effect now bypass the office and get on with their work from wherever they may be.

Early research and survey findings indicate that these experiences will ‘reset’ the office – and create the vision of a new landscape for work, where we will be driven not so much by necessity but by purpose. The Samsung report sets out to chart new technology trends and describe the ‘next normal’ – how companies need to respond to provision work in 2021, to ensure success and adopt hybrid working models. 

Digital landscape of work

The report highlights key areas in which digital transformation has most affected the way we work. From smart technology to the cloud to an ‘everything digital’ approach, it is critical to have an understanding of how technology can enable new ways of working in order to create an effective and successful digital transformation strategy.

Everything digital – research from Deloitte found that since the start of lockdown, 75 per cent of office workers have used at least two new types of technology for work. This demonstrates the willingness and the agility of the workforce to migrate to new digital solutions in order to maintain their productivity and connection to their teams.

Moving to the cloud – The cloud enables the seamless sharing of information across multiple devices and encourages digital synchronisation between employees and their end points. The cloud removes the barrier of working at one fixed end point and enables the growing demand for asynchronous working where people will co-author and co-edit the same document.

Expectations of smart technology – data capture has become a critical capability of building infrastructure in the modern workplace. The growth of the Internet of Things has allowed systems to talk to each other through common protocols and open standards, creating a cohesive digital ecosystem. From a user perspective, smart environments can often be driven by an app used on a smart phone – this will let an individual have a complete journey where they can interface with the environment around them.

Wireless working – many devices now work on the basis that they are completely wireless, no longer requiring ethernet cables to connect them to the internet. The explosion of adoption of wi-fi – now in version 6 – brings new freedom and mobility inside and outside buildings. The impact of a wireless workplace is that people will expect to work and connect from anywhere, opening up a new era of workspace based on specialist or activity-based settings.

Where next for digital transformation?

The report explores the future of the hybrid workplace and recognises that employees are no longer going to work from one place and instead they will work within an ecosystem of different environments depending on the tasks they are conducting. Each setting requires different digital capabilities and hardware.

At the desk, office and ‘out of office’ level, the report looks at what technologies might be required for different tasks. New technology has allowed the user to remain productive during the pandemic and has changed the way we think about work and workplace. No longer is the office the predominant location for work as distributed and remote work approaches are implemented.

The key ingredients of this new normal are the cloud, portable endpoints that are always on, the ‘window to your world’ through a monitor that drives not just content but all communications and collaboration, and the peripherals that complete the end user technology ecosystem. Together they drive a new vision for work and place.

The challenges to define this new landscape should not be underestimated. But a digital workplace strategy that embraces new ways of working will be essential for organisations becoming fit for the future in a post-pandemic landscape that celebrates diversity and presents a more human-centred approach to work. We are defining the ‘next normal’.

This report was commissioned by Samsung, which is a Corporate Member of the WORKTECH Academy. View the full report, Digital Workplace: towards the next normal, here.
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