While 2020 was a year most were happy to see go, it’s one that won’t easily be forgotten (for a myriad of reasons)—and perhaps it shouldn’t be. As a result of the events that took place in 2020, business leaders across the globe are now in the midst of a critical planning period where navigating future uncertainty is essential for ensuring both short-term and long-term success.
We recently asked industry experts what they predict the future of work will hold. As expected, at least for the near-term, the conversation focused largely on the office structure.
Planning in its essence should always take into account future unknowns, but questions about how our teams will work and where they will work will likely continue to dominate the conversation as we think about constructing a successful plan for 2021 and beyond.
As Microsoft MVP Randy Chapman says, “The working world has clearly changed as a result of Covid-19. What started as a way to abide government legislation has quickly turned into the norm. Many businesses are finding that they can actually trust people who work from home to be just as or more productive at home. Workers themselves are also finding that there are benefits to working from home.”
As a result, Chapman believes “Some businesses will start to offer support to those that do want to work from home but need to improve circumstances at home, such as funding better internet connections, office furniture and tech—even garden offices and loft conversions. This could be offset by reducing expenditure on offices themselves. Instead of just supplying a laptop, mobile phone and headset, businesses are going to start supplying work from home permanently kits.”
“There is also going to be a trend toward tech and services designed for those that work from home (including coffee and meal deliveries). Meeting room systems aren’t going to be confined to a board room in an office, but rather offer an experience that can enhance working and meeting at home. If you can’t get the people to the services, get the services to the people.” – Randy Chapman, Architect at Symity, Microsoft MVP & Teams Evangelist at UCStatus
Microsoft MVP Joel Oleson echoed this sentiment. “While remote work had an unexpected boost in 2020, most companies won’t fully return to the old ways. In person meetings have their place, but hybrid or online meetings are here to stay. I do predict most companies will see the value in a more flexible work environment. Why go back when flexibility benefits both employees and the bottom line?” – Joel Oleson, Director, Perficient & Microsoft MVP, blogger, Collabshow.com
Highlighting the pitfalls of living in a virtual world, Microsoft MVP Dux Raymond Sy believes, “Remote work technology fatigue will be more apparent in 2021. Organizations will be more mindful on how to best leverage these technologies and provide specific guidelines around work-life integration such as how to best work collaboratively, when to hold meetings and the value of focus time.” – Dux Raymond Sy, AvePoint Chief Brand Officer, Microsoft RD & MVP
Drilling down into the fundamentals of human and team interaction, business consultant Eric Fletcher said, “When it comes to communication, it is easy to focus on messaging, channels and tools—create a bit of genius, use the latest apps and drop it onto the right platforms, and task complete. But we all know that the distribution of a message doesn’t guarantee connection...much less, understanding or action. As the ways we interact change dramatically, this is one of the challenges for the new workforce. The real-time feedback that comes in the context of conspiring, collaborating and gauging the degree to which there is understanding has always been where the most consequential communication takes place. In 2021, smart leaders and businesses will recognize this reality, and focus innovative energies on ways to put a premium on the entire communication process — including the kind of interaction that fosters understanding and action...even in the midst of figuring out exactly what this new workforce will look like.” – Eric Fletcher, CEO, Eric Fletcher Consulting
At BlueJeans, we urge people to “Don’t just meet up. Show up.” It’s this commitment to action that Brandt Krueger, owner of Event Technology Consulting, believes makes all the difference in event planning.
“People need to make their decisions now. Every time we’ve tried to predict what this thing is going to do, where we’re going to be, and when it’s going to be done, we’ve been wrong. At some point, you need to commit to just doing it the way you want to do it. The safest bet is to go hybrid or go fully online. If you really want to start planning for an in-person event, you really need to plan for hybrid. If you’re going to go hybrid, then you need to fully commit to designing your event for both of those audiences. You need to fully commit to designing the online experience and designing the in-person experience as co-equal attendees.” – Brandt Krueger, Technical Producer, Consultant, and Educator for the Meeting and Events Industry
As a firm believer in the power of hybrid, Krueger has been shouting from the rooftops for the last 10 years about the power of hybrid events. “If done correctly, if done well, you’re going to drive more traffic to your in-person events. It’s the Netflixication of events—is this a movie I need to see in the theatres or can I wait for the streaming platform? It’s a lower barrier of entry, but at the same time, I think people are going to start making more intense choices. The better you make the online experience, the more it makes people want to attend in-person.”
Haven’t you been wanting to ‘BlueJeans and chill’ when it comes to perusing through personal and professional events online? In all seriousness though, we couldn’t agree more with Krueger’s idea that the future of events will be a mix of in-person and virtual components to engage larger audience.
Furthermore, our customers are increasingly telling us they see their future office experience as being a mix of in-office and remote team collaboration. Organizations need to be prepared for this hybrid world by providing secure, cloud-based tools that keep teams productive no matter where they are, and that can plug-and-play with a wide range of devices.
Interoperability is at the core of everything we do at BlueJeans. Learn more about our video conferencing interoperability and open framework and see our whitepaper on Future Proofing for a World of Uncertainty. Ready to take BlueJeans for a spin? Download your free trial of BlueJeans today.
We look forward to seeing what unfolds for the collaboration industry in 2021 (any beyond)!