Now we can see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, organisations are increasingly looking beyond what has become the “new normal” and starting to plan what comes next. One huge topic for the “next normal” is going to be how, where, and when employees work. In those halcyon pre-pandemic times, for the majority of employees working generally meant being at work, and organisations built their network and telecoms infrastructure accordingly. For many organisations, this quickly had to change in the early days of the pandemic as they rushed to enable most of their employees to work from home.
The question now is what model will prevail post-pandemic, and what network and telecoms infrastructure will be required to enable this model?
For many organisations, the likely “next normal” model will mix employees on company premises with employees working remotely. This mixed model offers a number of advantages – surveys show that employees like this approach, it enables many of the benefits of collaboration and team working, whilst also allowing organisations to reduce their expenditure on office space.
However, whilst the likely end state is starting to become clear, how to build the infrastructure to enable it has not. Pre-pandemic, allowing employees to work remotely was generally considered a perk available only to a small percentage of usually more senior employees. As a result, little provision was made to enable remote working, and there was no great expectation that the company would provide any support to enable it. In the early days of the pandemic, most organisations essentially extended this same approach to a much bigger group of employees – they were given laptops and appropriate software, but were largely expected to fend for themselves in the provision of infrastructure.
Whilst this approach may have been acceptable in the emergency situation of a pandemic, there are two major reasons why it will definitely not be acceptable as the new status quo:
- Organisations will increasingly find that this approach will have multiple detrimental impacts. These include whether it is reasonable to rely on cheap, low quality home broadband to enable very senior, highly paid employees to engage with clients on video, or whether it is viable for multiple more junior employees to cluster around a single table in a shared apartment
- Employees may not be willing to provide the facilities to enable the “next normal” to their employers for free over the long term. This has been termed “bring your own office” – in other words, where organisations used to provide facilities, infrastructure, heat, power, even water and coffee, at the present time employees are largely providing these facilities for free to their employers. In the short term, employees have largely accepted this as a necessary response to the pandemic, but over the longer term may require more support to enable successful remote working
TNC is at the forefront of supporting organisations to develop network and telecoms strategies for the “next normal”. Through these processes, we can see that many organisations are well advanced with their thinking on what their corporate provision of network and telephony will look like, with an ever-increasing focus on flexibility and agility enabled through technologies such as SD-WAN, and cloud-enabled telephony and contact centre services.
However, whilst many organisations are developing their corporate strategies, there appears to be much less thought being applied to the best models to enable remote working for employees. Given the criticality this may well represent for future ways of working, TNC has been developing a tool kit to help organisations fill this strategic gap.
The purpose of this toolkit is to enable organisations to develop models that enable sustainable remote working – not just for the duration of an emergency but for the long term.
Key to this tool kit are the three key approaches TNC has identified that organisations can take to build their future-facing infrastructure: