To borrow from a previous post, the future of work arrived yesterday, long before many organizations were prepared to evolve into it. Somehow, only three months after the global COVID-19 pandemic took hold, that unexpected, early arrival of nearly universal remote work now feels far in the rearview mirror. The tipping point for both remote work and certainly video conferencing adoption was upon us soon thereafter, and has maintained a new high-water mark ever since.
However, just as organizations have begun settling into work-from-home arrangements as their “new normal,” there is going to be a “next normal” emerging quickly on the horizon – one that makes returning to work-from-everywhere scenarios possible. This will, yet again, alter the axis of our personal and professional lives, as knowledge workers from educators to bankers to architects, as well as frontline workers in healthcare, retail and customer support contact centers strive to deliver high-touch services from locations outside traditional physical settings. Technology must be an enabler of this new reality beyond the tipping point, and certain requirements will need to be met to keep the world working through another colossal transition.
Immersive Digital Interactions
For many organizations, interactions or experiences are their product or service, or are at least a mission-critical part of their delivery. Think about customer service contact centers. Institutions for higher education. Legal services, consultants and psychologists. These organizations will have to get creative, and resourceful, to provide those interactions and customer experiences from anywhere to anywhere and may have to make near-real-time adjustments to how they mix product or service delivery. The business and technology implications that stem from these interactions are formidable.
Quality and variety of communication mediums will matter. The high-definition clarity and reliability that consumers are used to with their personal technology will win the day with clients. That, in turn, leads to business needs for more bandwidth, easy-to-use software and devices, interoperability so that solutions work with each other rather than locking a customer into a closed ecosystem, and even space or real estate investments that are befitting of professional interactions without necessarily being a formal office. The digital service-providing nomad is going to become more commonplace than ever, and the infrastructure must be available to allow them to do work from anywhere.
Flexible Solutions for Flexible Workplaces
As work ebbs and flows between the traditional office, non-traditional environments like a factory floor or hospital operating room and entirely remote locations, technologies need to become more “fluid” so that they can match and adapt to their more fluid workplace surroundings.
New-age solutions must be omnichannel and accessible from any device to meet customers where they are, flexible and scalable in pricing and deployment to handle situations that require burst, and increasingly intelligent through AI and machine learning to better route, prioritize and execute work, because throwing more people and resources at problems simply isn’t viable in our current business climate.
One element that should not get more fluid or flexible beyond the tipping point is security and privacy. Companies must continue steadfast commitments to prioritizing and protecting customer data and communications in every solution they produce. Without the trust that interpersonal communication and technology vendor/customer relationships are built on, the workplace starts to crumble in a hurry.
Perhaps most importantly, every organization globally – regardless of industry – must be able to answer the existential question: “Can the way I conducted business yesterday be a sustainable way to run my business tomorrow?” In these extremely volatile, unpredictable times, there is almost never going to be a blanket answer of “yes” to that question, and leaders must continuously respond with the next potential disruption in mind.
Organizations will have to recalibrate how they connect people and processes across their value chain to be able to withstand global shocks that are sure to continue, whether health-related, environmental catastrophes (hurricanes, forest fires, floods and more), financial meltdowns, geopolitical altercations or socio-economic pressures and points of friction (employee strikes, gig economy models, healthcare debates, etc.). Albeit a difficult test, organizations must attempt to future-proof their businesses against all the above.
And we cannot forget about providing continuity for our employees by supporting them in getting their work done. The tools, access to information and benefits required to work from everywhere may be different than what was necessitated even earlier this year, but the end goal remains the same: providing exceptional customer experiences.
Beyond the tipping point, there is a motherlode of potential. There are also a great many prospective pitfalls if we don’t account for the technology and business continuity factors that are sure to change and evolve. At Lifesize, we will rise to the challenge, adjust our business and product roadmap accordingly, and look forward to supporting our customers through this brave new era of work.