As 2020 draws to a closer, companies around the world will remember this past year as one that completely shifted the way we work. The spread of COVID-19 accelerated companies to embrace remote work and flexibility at work, and the workforce responded overwhelmingly positively to this change. According to a Fuze survey, 84% of tech leaders say they would like to see an increase in flexible work policies in a post-crisis world. While more difficult to set hard boundaries, employees embraced being able to care for their families with a more work life flexibility than was previously afforded working in a physical office space.
The question on everyone’s mind as we head towards the new year is: What is the new, post-COVID-19 future workforce going to look like? How is the way we work going to change from now on?
Fuze’s executive team and customers weighed in with their thoughts:
"I definitely think a hybrid work model will become the norm in 2021, and I know I'm not alone in that. I don't think anyone envisions a scenario where 100% of people come back into the office like it was prior to March of this year. If you fast forward to some time in 2021 when our headquarters in Boston re-opens, I think the hybrid model will be most common once we figure everything out. Either way, it's safe to say that thing will not look the same." - Brian Day, CEO
“As we look towards 2021, we will see companies accelerate the deployment of intuitive technology solutions to connect and inspire talent. Companies will focus on realizing the value of these solutions while utilizing technology to understand their workforce diversity, skills, and engagement level. Creatively leveraging talent to drive innovation, adaptability, and customer intimacy will be differentiating factors for companies as they navigate ongoing change.” - Rob Scudiere, COO & President
“I believe the re-definition of the workday will hit the mainstream in 2021, regardless of when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available. The pandemic has forced a grand awakening of enterprise C-Level mindsets to the realization that being attached to a desk for eight continuous hours isn't the only way to get results or foster engagement. Life happens, and requires attention outside of the office. What was only thought of among the most forward-thinking business leaders before 2020 will now be table stakes for every enterprise— i.e., the optimization of a flexible workday culture and work-from-anywhere business operation.” - Chris Conry, Chief Information Officer
“As we enter 2021 and consider the workforce, I believe we can expect a few things. First, that we will utilize global talent differently— hiring employees who will "work from anywhere", and perhaps utilize project based "gig" resources more freely than we do today. Next, there will be a greater focus on benefits optimization and customization; with wellness benefits taking a more prominent focus, and a re-thinking of how we may re-deploy traditional office expenses into ensuring effective home office work environments.
Lastly, leadership skills need to change. Many employees are struggling working remotely, with competing priorities in the household, (and women dropping out of the workforce at a higher pace then ever seen before), so different leadership skills are required. Today's leadership requires a strong ability to lead with intent, and empathy. Effective leaders will be able to maintain culture and celebrate success, facilitate strong teaming and inclusiveness, be able to help employees prioritize work for maximum impact, and to lead with empathy and flexibility as our work worlds and home lives have collided.” - Elisa Gilmartin, Chief People Officer
“Hybrid work is here to stay. This past year has taught us that work is not a place, but is wherever and whenever people want it to be. Thanks to the increasing distributed workforce, video will become the new “dial tone” while traditional solution categories like “online meetings” and “team collaboration” will go the way of pagers and personal digital assistants, being absorbed into the overall communications experiences.” - Eric Hanson, Chief Marketing Officer
“I'm responsible for a global support organization, and have always expressed to my team that remote work is encouraged. Our company culture has always been one that allows us to do our work from anywhere. To be completely transparent, for me personally, I always thought that the "office" was the place for me to be when it came to getting my work done. It has taken something like COVID-19 to force me through a mindset shift. Sure, it took time for me to get used to it, and since I didn’t normally work from home, it was quite an adjustment.
What I've come to realize is that the workplace is not a building. It’s the spaces and places that enable our best work. I found that I can be at my best and be able to deliver on all my commitments without having to be in the "office". Moving forward in 2021, and even after a vaccine becomes available, the workplace will never be the same for people like me. All that matters is that people are in a space or place that enables them to be at their best and deliver their best work.” - David Donatelli, Global Customer Support
“Sales is an expertise that has historically been done best face to face, whether it's with customers, prospects, partners or teammates. Working remotely has adjusted this mentality and pushed all of us to adapt and sharpen our skills so that we can create value, establish trust and instill confidence from afar.” - Tom Seigel, Chief Sales Officer
“I think what will happen once we know when it's even feasible to bring a lot more people back to the office, is that we will probably sit down and determine which roles really need to be in-house versus which is okay being remote. I think we'll even offer probably some flexibility in that to have visitor cubes, or hotel cubes. So if someone wants to come in a couple days a week, they could, but maybe we don't have a desk for them that we permanently set up— and more than likely, we'll probably look at reducing our space.” - Michele Buschman, VP of Information Services, American Pacific Mortgage
“We were going to build a new building to house all of our employees in California, and that whole project has not been changed to where it will be, it will only keep a few people. We will go into a hoteling type environment and most people will be working from home for the foreseeable future, even with a vaccine I think it's not going to change that. This is a permanent change for us.” - Vimal Thomas, VP of IT, Yamaha
“I think a lot of our work is going to end up going back into the facilities, because that was a big part of what the service is. It gets people out of their homes where they can go and be with others and do activities and things like that. I think from that perspective, we're going to end up moving back into offices when we can. We have, however, seen some significant success with having teleservices for our autism services, which relieves a huge burden on the parents. Now that they're seeing success with doing it, it removes their time to commute to one of our facilities to be able to get services and it saves them time on either end. I think for those services that don't have to be— and their express purpose isn't being the socialization aspect— I think we're going to maintain a hybrid environment where maybe 75% of the services are teleservices and they only come into a facility once a week or once a month.” - Stacie DePeau, CIO, Easterseals Southern California
“Some of our people do like going in now. It's time for a change. I mean, they're not walking around high fiving everyone for each sale anymore. They're keeping their distance and stuff like that, but if some people need the change, and those that are able to are starting to embrace it a little bit. Those that have fixed offices that aren't in locations that are really locked down right now, so if they have their own private office and their local regulations allow for it, they don't have a problem to go in. We have a whole spectrum of employee feedback, but our HQ in (Boston’s) Seaport is set up for hoteling.” - Jason Mahoney, Principal Telecommunications Analyst, PTC