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The Future Landscape of Workplaces Will Change forever

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As companies plan to reopen their doors to bring employees back, a lot is going on to decide what the future workplace will look like. There are a few common themes emerging which make a lot of sense for both the employees and the company. It is time to make some bold decisions and manage the change process.

It begins with safety and wellness. Companies will need to rethink air quality, wellness programs, rearranging seats for a safe distance and much more. Any decision made will require the workplace to have a seamless, transparent digital end-to-end process in place. The days of packing people into rooms will disappear for the next many years to come.

Clearly, culture plays a huge part in the future workplace. I spent 6 months at home and when I went to work none of the people I work with showed up on the same day. Sounds familiar?  That’s a No-No to encourage people back to work. It kills productivity. Organizations need to have a clear strategy for ensuring teams work together, neighborhoods created for teams and departments and let intelligent solutions ensure rostering happens in a way that people get to collaborate when they are at work. The concept of Hybrid work is a reality and to get it right culture, team dynamics and work schedules need to be well thought through. It’s time the HR team and workplace team work very closely together.

Flexibility is great but you need to keep in mind productivity, collaboration and cost. A well-planned organization can get the best of both worlds. After guiding the transition from fixed to the hybrid working of over 200 odd offices worldwide, one thing that stands out is that a well-planned Hybrid workplace model is the way to go. 3 days at work, 2 days at home brings about an ideal scenario. This model based on averages combines a set of 3 categories – permanently work from home, permanently work in the office and Hybrid workers. With the right tools every employee feels engaged, they know where their teammates are, they go to work based on the need and tasks at hand. With the right automation, this will drive up productivity and increase employee satisfaction.

Cost is a big factor at play. Real estate and workplace overall costs have been very high for underutilized spaces. Check you P&L and sum it all up. This is #2 or #3 on the balance sheet. Here’s a great opportunity to cut it down. With Hybrid working, you can safely let go of 30 % of your space. Let technology determine the best way space gets allocated and consumed. With Rs. 6-7 lakhs per annum seat cost including rentals, cleaning, power and using them a few times a month is not an optimum way to run the business.

The talent equation is fast changing. You can now hire for the skills, not location. This is a huge plus. Location doesn’t matter anymore and gives you access to talent globally. Hybrid working and access to talent pools worldwide will really help and keep companies competitive.

One thing is for sure that as we move from fixed timing, fixed location and fixed desk to the new Hybrid and Flexible Workplace, technology is going to play a huge part. The ability to manage all the variables at play and getting it right requires a sophisticated AI solution with a very easy to use seamless interface for employees. Reducing employee and operations teams toil will be critical.

Businesses will journey across the stages as they shift to the new hybrid workplace and a solution which can support this journey can help get the most value – both in adoption as well as real cost savings. With AI recommendations, business teams will be able to make informed decisions about space optimization. At the end of the day, technology will be the catalyst to the new paradigm of flexible workspaces, bringing to the table better collaboration and space optimization opportunities that will eventually change the way we work.

The new Hybrid workplace is here and now and can become a competitive advantage for companies. The early ones will learn and be ready ahead of the rest. The time to act is now.

Dinesh Malkani, CEO, Smarten Spaces


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