With the emergence of the vaccine rollout across the world, companies are looking at what the future of their workplace looks like for their employees. Is this going to continue be digital or a full return to the physical office space? There are many different variables affecting this decision, and some have more weight than others for different companies. However, for the office worker, the next new normal looks like a hybrid or a mix of the physical and digital. The term 'phygital' was first coined to describe the omnichannel experience for consumers in the retail industry but now it is becoming more relevant for the employee experience as we plan our move back to the office space from our home desks.
Many employees will welcome the return to the physical interactions with clients and colleagues, and many others have managed quiet well existing solely in their home 'digital' realm. As companies consider what this new phygital workplace will look like, most will see it as a balance between home and office. This in itself opens new challenges such as the use of more hot desks than the traditional fixed desk, which means less office space needed and a potential significant cost saving. If we focus on the employee experience for a moment, what does the digital workplace look like when we bring the digital back into the physical? Is our new digital workplace going to blend seamlessly into our office space and will it be beneficial or not to even come to the office.
The choice of digital workplace tools and applications is key to finding this balance in the phygital world, as well as the understanding what the new office culture will be like. Many companies are now publicly stating that the old way of office working is not going to continue.
CEO of Alphabet (Google's parent company) Sundar Pichai said that 'We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new, so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.' So they are looking to bringing employees in 3 days a week to the office. More on this article.
Alan Jope, Chief Executive of Unilever, said recently that workers will never return to desks full time. 'We anticipate never going back to five days a week in the office,” Jope said. “That seems very old-fashioned now'. Jope said the company would look at different working patterns after it saw during the pandemic that it could adapt and make big changes far more quickly than previously thought. More on this article.2021 is (hopefully) going to be a year of recovery, to finding our way back to a new normal, and as the vaccine is due to be available for the entire population of the UK by the autumn of 2021, now is the time to prepare. If you need help understanding these cultural and technology challenges and the different options and solutions available, then get in touch.