There’s no doubt that hybrid work models will have a permanent place in the post-pandemic workplace, especially in organizations with workforces that mostly consist of knowledge workers. But the big question is, what is this hybrid world of work going to look like?
We spoke about this at the SmartCom Summit Summer 2021 and discussed trends, challenges, and opportunities with Stefan van Oirschot (Red Hat), Rob Kurver (The Next Cloud), Joost Jetten (Logitech), Remco de Kramer (Microsoft) and Nico Dammers (oneCentral).
Video is the next normal
“I would say everything starts with an opportunity in the market”, says Stefan van Oirschot (Red Hat).
And that certainly seems to be the case for the transformation of the workplace. When there’s a true necessity, the adoption curve of technology almost goes through the roof. Joost Jetten (Logitech) explains that “to be properly equipped for the new normal, companies all across the world are racing to update their meeting rooms with smart equipment and enough bandwidth.”
Video very quickly has become the de-facto standard for online collaboration and things that seemed impossible a year ago (hiring new employees without meeting them in person or having employees come into the office sporadically) are now perceived as normal.
Platforms going mainstream and smarter
As a result, technology that has been around for the better part of this century became mainstream in less than a year. Microsoft for example, saw a massive spike in the usage of its Teams software. Right now there are more than 250 million active users per month, about 10 times more than before the pandemic!
(Fun fact. The Netherlands and the Nordic countries are leading when it comes to video usage, in 63% of meetings and 1-on-1 calls video is turned on.)
But we haven’t seen the end of it yet. Our tools can and will get even smarter. Remco de Kramer (Microsoft) explains to Rob that “the majority of users use Microsoft Teams primarily as a means to meet online, however, the majority of work happens outside of meetings.” Which shows that there’s room for new use cases and new ways of using software like Teams for collaboration and communication.
Hybrid is the way forward
On the other hand, humans are still social beings. As a consequence, virtual tools will never be able to completely replace real-life collaboration. While the benefits are obvious and substantial (less need for travel, it’s easy and cost-effective, office space can be saved), some forms of interaction just work better when we can look each other in the eye – like building trust and doing creative work together.
While big companies are very good at working and collaborating at a distance, for smaller companies tackling the hybrid work problem can be challenging. But Nico Dammers (oneCentral) is sure the future of work is definitely hybrid. “It can’t be a 100% remote workplace, that will not work for most organisations.”
Watch the full video from SmartCom Summit Summer 2021 below and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to stay connected.