Welcome to 2021 … where the future of work now looks completely different than it did 12 months ago.
During the first few weeks of 2020, most workers went to an office every day—whether they worked in a hospital, bank, or government agency. This year, however, research supports the notion that a hybrid-virtual approach will be status quo for the foreseeable future. (Check out this data from Deloitte and this remote work survey from PwC to learn more.)
Many employers intend to make remote work a permanent part of their plans. We’re also seeing signs that schools may follow suit and offer similar arrangements starting this fall.
We call this NWOW (new ways of working). To support NWOW, you need more than a Zoom link: You need strategies, policies, and the right technology. It doesn’t require an upfront capital purchase that drains resources. Instead, you pay monthly for the technology you need (more about that in a minute).
Here are five technology systems that stand ready to support NWOW …
The best way to bridge the gap between onsite and remote workers is through video, but most videoconferencing technology lacks one important feature: the ability for everyone to be seen on a screen at all times by the meeting leader or instructor.
New flex/hybrid technology supports NWOW. It can bring people together in meaningful ways to provide real connections between those working remotely and in the office.
We recently uncovered a solution that surpasses the capabilities of existing tools to offer a truly live experience for people at home and in the office (or anywhere else). Called weConnect from Barco, it creates a virtual environment where everyone can see and hear each other, share content, and collaborate.
- Cloud Computing
It seems as if the cloud is now inescapable. Many organizations were headed down this path before COVID-19, but the pandemic quickly accelerated the shift. The cloud allows you to run applications and software from remote servers; data is stored online and accessed via the internet. It also supports fast, efficient rollout of new programs and applications. As long as you work somewhere with an internet connection, you can access your data.
Cloud computing also offers flexibility for NWOW; during slow periods and times of growth, you can add or remove applications and storage space. You only pay for what you need at that very moment.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT goes hand in hand with sensor technology, which we’ll describe below. As an interconnected network made up of devices working together, IoT supports better communication, collaboration, efficiency, and safety.
By integrating devices, IoT unites technology systems instead of operating in silos. For example: When multiple sensors connect to your network via IoT, they can collect data, compare it to predefined parameters, send findings to the cloud for storage, and alert the right person when an action needs to be taken based on the data (an air filter needs to be changed, a restroom needs to be cleaned, etc.).
IoT also lets you manage technology remotely. Need to adjust a camera? Make an announcement over your intercom system? Change a message on your digital signage? As long as there’s an internet connection, you can make it happen. IoT also supports touchless technology like turnstiles or mobile credentials (using your smartphone to gain access to your office without touching keypads) to minimize virus spread.
- Sensor Technology
Data is key to implementing NWOW, and sensors are the brains behind this data. They act as eyes and ears to protect staff and deliver the information businesses need in order to make informed decisions.
For example: Knowing how many occupants are in your building at any given time will become essential to keep employees safe and stay on top of cleaning frequently touched surfaces. To collect and manage this data, you’ll find sensors in cameras to monitor temperature, distancing, traffic flow, and density.
The data captured by sensors is sent to the cloud, where authorized employees monitor and react in real time to what they see. (Here’s a great example of how sensor technology could work in a campus setting.)
Sensors also manage and automate systems like lighting, window blinds, AV, and HVAC so no one has to touch controls. Through real-time motion and occupancy monitoring, sensors can signal to devices and fixtures when it’s time to turn on and off.
- Smart Space Scheduling
Smart space scheduling manages room availability in real time, letting employees know which spaces can be used, when they’re available, and how many people can use them at once. It can automatically create buffers between meetings to allow time for sanitization and mark rooms as unavailable until they’re clean.
To reduce touch, spaces are reserved through apps or online; sensors can monitor presence and motion to maintain status updates (free, occupied, cleaning needed, etc.) so no one accidentally enters an occupied room during another meeting or while it’s being sanitized.
How to Fund Your NWOW Initiatives
Bringing in the right technology creates a workplace that keeps competitors out, brings talent in, and makes everyone feel comfortable about being there. But how do you pay for it—especially as you limit spending?
Instead of taking on the full price of your technology, we can bundle projects, warranties, and service contracts into one financing agreement so you make one monthly usage payment.
CEC’s Managed Systems Program (MSP) not only packages the latest technology into an affordable, budgetable monthly usage payment … but it also ensures that you never have to worry about downtime. We maintain the system and take care of any issues.
Have questions about our MSP? We answer some of the most common here!