What the “next normal” workplace will look like


Pat and Chris

Work will never be the same after COVID-19, according to ServiceNow CIO Chris Bedi and Chief Talent Officer Pat Wadors  who recently discussed the future of work in a joint appearance at our Knowledge 2020 digital event.

In this three-part blog series, “Mapping the future of work,” we present their thinking on what a new paradigm for work might look like.

Part Two: The “Next Normal”

In Bedi’s estimation, we’re about to enter chapter two of the journey, in which it’s no longer “work from home,” but “work from anywhere.” This opens the door to opportunities for more collaboration and innovation, as well as access to new talent pipelines.

Said Wadors, “The pre-COVID workplace no longer exists. I know for many of my peers and for us, we will undergo dramatic shifts to make sure we are safe, healthy, productive and adaptable in our new workplaces.” 

C-suite leaders across industries are facing significant challenges. A CFO might be concerned about cash-flow forecasting, while a CHRO focuses on keeping people engaged and happy, and a COO worries about the supply chain.

“The CIO is interacting with every C-suite member to figure out how to navigate the  
‘next normal’ using technology and workflows,” said Bedi.

 

Person drinking coffee

CIOs are insisting that digitization efforts accelerate, Bedi added. Around the world, customers who are furthest along on their digital transformation journey are better equipped to manage and emerge from this crisis. Bedi sees three focus areas for digitization: 

·       Protecting revenue, 

·       Pursuing productivity

·       Prioritizing business continuity

Bedi and Wadors agreed on the importance of monitoring employee sentiment about coming back into the traditional workplace, which could be impacted by geography, type of job, and in some cases, age. 

In the “next normal,” the “office” will become a more fluid destination and there will be new policies in place to protect the health and safety of workers, including where and when to work in shared spaces.

There’s a great debate happening now around whether to shrink the physical size of the office or maintain existing footprints to allow for social distancing. Leaders are also thinking about everything from office sanitization to ensuring a safe commute.  

In the “next normal,” we’ll see a wave of technological innovation. Biometric tech will become more commonplace in the office.  Translation tools will also become ubiquitous, enabling diversity in how people learn and speak.  

Similarly, technology will facilitate collaboration, regardless of location. Teams will be able to hire without worrying about geographic location, as they can do everything – onboard, train, manage – in a remote setting. This will open the door to a more diverse and distributed workforce.

As companies plan their eventual return to the workplace, Wadors offered some advice to HR organizations.  “Employees love choice,” she said.  “It helps reduce anxiety. And if you don’t know exactly what your return to the office will be like, make sure that employees know they are at the center of your universe.”

Learn more about how work will change in part three of our “Mapping the future of work” series: Long-term changes in the workplace.

Series: Mapping the future of work

Part 1 - Mapping the future of work

Part 2 - What the “next normal” workplace will look like

Part 3 - Long-term changes in the workplace

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