A workplace but not as we know it

A workplace is simply a place where people work, such as an office or factory. Or at least it used to be until a pandemic came along in March 2020 (or before depending on location) and accelerated our thinking about what is really possible with an office, a cafe, a factory or even your home! 

At some point we will be in a post-COVID era. As the vaccinations in the UK continue to rise and at the moment new cases are falling it appears we are moving in the right direction. Technology will become even more key to our future lives and future workplaces. There have been a number of themes emerging that are worth exploring: 

  • A fixed desk in an office is no longer the workplace. (Most) people can work from anywhere – acknowledging that roles in health and hospitality (to name just two) are unable to. People will be able to work from home, in an office or at a different location such as a co-working space or even a local cafe. The improvements in technology, and specifically increased connectivity at the home, have made this achievable. There will be a balance – there are the benefits of working from home BUT the impact on mental health through blurring the line does make it not ideal for a proportion of people. Having a hybrid will allow each person to flex to what works for them. 
  • The rise of technology and remote working proving to work for many will create opportunities for individuals to do roles they haven’t previously been able to due to location. Location is no longer a barrier to employment. Employers will gain as they have access to a wider pool of talent – bring work to the people and not people to work. 
  • Having flexibility in our work is becoming more prevalent. The rise of the gig economy allows individuals to work on-demand. This can be advantageous for companies that have peak periods and therefore having a flexible employee base allows them to match this peak without retaining employees during downtimes. It works for the employees who want short-term positions and have the right skills needed. 
  • Technology now allows us to work smarter. AI and other forms of technology remove the need for repetitive and routine work allowing employees to focus on what matters. This plays more into our workplace of the future. 
  • There is a greater need to focus on sustainability, and our workplace is no different. Companies and employees need to reflect on actions and ensure that not only do they meet the needs of stakeholders but also the broader society – are you doing the right thing? 

Technology will play an ever increasing role in our workplaces (wherever we choose to work). Technology allows us to work from practically anywhere – all we need is the access code to the wi-fi and we’re off. New tools implemented by employers allow processes to be redefined online (in a cloud) and shared with those that require. What this does drive is a need for employees to reskill. 

At PwC we are both internally and externally seeking to upskill people with the skills they need for the future. More information can be found: New world. New skills. Upskilling for the digital world and I explore further about how the current situation will shape the future – what is the good that we want to retain in our lives: After the storm comes the rays of sunshine (hopefully)

To paraphrase an old proverb – the best time to start was yesterday, the second best is right now! Covid-19 has propelled us into the future we were bound to reach. Our workplaces will now become effective collaboration centres. A sustainable haven that promotes wellbeing, inclusion and social interaction. 

The workplace of the future is a shared sense of purpose, a culture of collaboration, a way of tapping an ecosystem built specially to drive your business value. The workplace of the future empowers and inspires people to do their best work – to communicate, collaborate and solve problems.

The key is that change is already happening and accelerating faster. Act now or become a victim of it. 

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