Going Back to the Office (Or Not)
The Future of Work is Cloud-Based
The forced work-from-home experiment we have all been living through over the past few months has tested the limits for so many companies. Those without an existing large, and/or successful, WFH population had to quickly decide how to make things best operate. We count ourselves among the lucky ones who didn’t have to change much. We were already using Microsoft Teams for everything – email, phone calls, video conferences, file sharing, etc., and were comfortable with our people choosing whether to do remote work from home or the office.
From what we have heard and read, many companies discovered their productivity levels were surprisingly higher with people working from home – largely debunking the stereotypes about productivity lagging. They found that saving time and energy on commuting, having the flexibility to work during individualized peak performance times, not to mention easy and safe access to files and documents, as well as multiple communication options – was a huge plus of remote work. Now companies are taking a hard look at what returning to “normal” will look like.
Rethinking All the Factors
We can all easily say that offices aren’t going to look like they used to with social distancing mandates. Companies are having to rethink their layouts, as well as commuting, since mass transit and ride-sharing options have become more limited. Some companies are looking at rapidly deploying office space in the suburbs in mini-office or mini-collaboration setups rather than sending everyone back into the city.
Companies are also having to take into consideration the risks associated with bringing back equipment that may not have been not fully protected or possibly was behind-patched or used by families for home schooling or other more casual purposes. Granted, a good solutions provider has options for protecting and cleansing your equipment before they are brought back into the workplace.
Remote is still the logical way to keep up productivity while things shake out, but there is still a lot to consider in order to ensure it is successful. A company going from a very limited WFH environment to one where the majority or all employees are connecting remotely might experience a significant shift in company culture. Certainly, the leadership approach will require a shift to adapt.
The Future Looks Different
As with any significant change, if it isn’t done slowly it can be painful. This change was forced on many who may have been resisting a technological change. The truth of the matter is that giant servers housed in rooms that require expensive cooling (in dollars and environmental impact) and constant maintenance is a thing of the past. Creating cloud solutions for data storage, file sharing, and communications is where we are all headed regardless of whether a company has a consistently populated central office or not.
The cloud solutions that exist today, like the Microsoft Stack, are well rehearsed by companies who were at the forefront of the trend. Security, although always a concern, can be largely managed with governance structures and procedures. Speed, depending on hardware operating systems and Wi-Fi is as good as, if not better, than physical servers. Capacity is endlessly more available and associated costs are significantly less; meaning economy of scale can be a significant factor. Migration isn’t even much of a worry with mature methods applied by experienced experts.
So, while companies debate among themselves about whether to return to the office or continue with remote work, we can safely say that how they work will change without a doubt. Flexibility will have to be built into any technical strategy. The future looks to be full of new surprises.