As we gradually come out of the Covid restrictions, information workers are in terra incognita. Do we go back to the offices quickly and if so, how? What do we need to equip our teams not only in terms of productivity but also wellbeing and good mental health? And as the consensus of wisdom suggests that Frost & Sullivan found that 83% of IT decision makers expect at least a quarter of their employees to work remotely at least sometime in 2022, what does a hybrid approach to work look like? to like?
Those of us who have had long careers in technology tend to have more freedom than others about how and where we work. When I worked in marketing and brand management in India, we were traditionally expected to work in offices, at our own desks, at prescribed times.
Later in the consultation, everyone had an assigned desk, but the fact that we worked worldwide meant few of us were actually there. At a software giant, my work was totally remote, and at an internet giant, I was mostly back at my desk. Where and how you work depends on the people, the culture, the workload and the task at hand. Before Covid, however, Fortune 500 company and corporate leadership teams didn’t spend hours figuring out how and where to work like they do today. The confused question of how best to get work done is an issue of CEOs and management teams in all sectors today.
There are more questions than answers, and we cannot know with conviction what the future of work will be in the near future. We need to be modest in our planning, be able to take up classes and correct the course accordingly. It makes sense to reflect on what we’ve learned from those turbulent year and a half, both for the best for the company and from a career perspective.
2020 and 2021 included domestic bandwidth battles that forced us to prioritize who gets access to valuable Wi-Fi connections and when. This formula was constantly being recalibrated: children’s online lessons came first, then parents’ zoom / team / meet calls. We all became network managers, planned capacity, invested in better packages, and thought unlimited cellular packages were worth the price.
The next step could be for all of us to become network engineers too. It’s likely that more of us will be working from home, and that means we’re going beyond consumer-grade bandwidth packages, where speeds are measured in individual megabits and security depends on how recently you’ve patched and updated your router .
Connectivity is more important than ever, and companies like Colt need to come up with partnerships, offerings, and suggest new best practices. Equipping users with excellent home networks, training, support and security will become an important issue in many company tables. And as AR and VR grow and video and voice quality continue to develop, we will be more dependent than ever on a communication infrastructure that is resilient and does not buckle under new network traffic and usage patterns, just like the metropolitan infrastructures that have long since established themselves.
VPNs and network tariffs, which can easily be selected and deselected, have a clear relevance here, and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is our friend, offering protection and policy-based access to services regardless of our location. Remote communication and teamwork have been boosted by video, so we need to adjust our capacity planning accordingly. More than half of hiring managers believe that a weak technology infrastructure is the biggest barrier to successful remote work.
We also have to take the human factor into account. Our eyes are tired from the glaring light of the ring lights, our vision is blurred from the constant close-ups of video calls, and our spine is stressed when we are bent over our home office for ten hours. At Colt, we introduced “Clear Your Plate” days on which we advised anyone avoiding video calling tools and staying somewhere other than their home desk. And when we did that, we saw an increase in productivity.
Technology has also been stepped up to bring our need for contact, community, and symbolism to life. Without human contact, tools like WhatsApp groups and Facebook workspaces became emergency zones for culture, empathy, sympathy and banter. The extent of our tribal affiliation has become very clear to us. It is this dual aspect of technology – blessings and blessings – that makes it clear that connectivity is important, but humans and the human mind are more important.
We have to be careful: I was taken on board completely via a screen and had to understand the corporate culture in that way. But now I have to unlearn the screen when I meet my colleagues in person. We have to remember that our assumptions can be wrong and that we have hidden prejudices. I enjoyed working from home, but when I went to the office it was refreshing to have specific times and the rigor of an office work environment that framed my day. I would expect young people to enjoy this freedom, but if they share an apartment with others in cramped spaces and try to get to know the world of work and the excitement of the city then they can’t.
We also need to be attuned to semiotics – reading the subtle interpersonal signs and non-verbal communication that we learned through cultural osmosis when we saw our peers predictably and regularly. We know that social distancing caused suffering for many, so we need to be aware of the potential fear and the effects of change on mental health.
The newfound freedom to be more flexible will be a blessing for many, but we need to understand that there are catches. We have to be aware of the temptation to see the colleague who is in our office more often as a contact person. This can take some training and learning new habits.
The optimist in me says that in this brave new world of dynamic work we will be more fulfilled and rounded people who are able to do our best for employers. But we have to pay attention to the nuances of what the next months and years will bring. Keeping the trinity of people, process and technology in balance is more important than ever.
Jaya Deshmukh is Executive Vice President – Strategy & Transformation at Colt Technology Services. Her job is to manage and advance Colt’s strategic roadmap and relationships while balancing her role as the mother of two social media influencers who believe bandwidth is their birthright!
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Originally published on Business Reporter