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What Four Significant Factors Will Drive Your Post-Pandemic Businesses?

What Four Significant Factors Will Drive Your Post-Pandemic Businesses?
15 June 2020
 

As non-essential retail outlets open in England, Luis De Souza provides some interesting insights on what he feels will drive post-pandemic business.

De Souza is the CEO of NFS Technology Group, offering market-leading technology solutions and professional services internationally.  The group has more than 1,800 clients in 40 countries across the hospitality, workspace and meeting venues sector.

 

“Businesses are now rethinking space assumptions, with five key aspects driving the office footprint: finance, corporate real estate, facilities, HR and technology. I believe the functional silos of the past will collapse – and fresh thinking will drive a smaller and more relevant real estate footprint.”

–Luis De Souza

CEO, NFS Technology

The Current Reality

 

What a rollercoaster we’re all on. The business mood has journeyed from real panic and fear, through resignation to the current reality.

Business leaders are already focused on new business models, including cost reductions, new ways to work productively and restarting stalled projects. With remote working firmly established in our lives, many companies are re-visiting technology infrastructure, with security and user experience a priority.

But the pandemic is also having a real impact on people’s wellbeing and stress levels – and current support mechanisms are not yet up to supporting them.

As I see it, there will be four significant factors that will drive post-pandemic businesses.

 

1. Real Estate Costs

 

In an uncertain pandemic world, there’s one certainty - lockdown home working is forcing businesses to re-visit their real estate portfolio. They are asking:

 

  • How much space do I really need?
  • Where?
  • What type?

 

Even companies with no previous experience of a stay-at-home workforce can now evaluate how it works for them, providing food for thought on technology support and collaboration.

 

Rocking The Status Quo?

 

Previously, the business market failed to challenge actual utilisation and alternatives to fixed cost space, such as home working, co-working spaces and flexible desking. 

Businesses are now rethinking space assumptions, with five key aspects driving the office footprint: finance, corporate real estate, facilities, HR and technology. I believe the functional silos of the past will collapse – and fresh thinking will drive a smaller and more relevant real estate footprint.

 

2. Home Working, The New Reality

 

On March 23, 2020 we all went home to work. Many workers enjoyed it, and maintained productivity.

Companies with good access to the technology that supports agile working, such as video conferencing tools and meeting scheduling software, have reported the most effective transition – for the most advanced, it’s almost been business as usual.

Challenges have arisen – providing home workers with suitable technology and bandwidth, for instance, and (a big one) ensuring the security of data. Pastoral care of worker wellbeing is just one of the new responsibilities for organisations getting to grips with remote working.

 

Woman in blue long sleeved shirt

Picture: A photograph of a person working at desk with a laptop, notebooks and pens.

 

They now have a duty to make sure their staff have a good space to work at home, with suitable equipment, ergonomic furniture, and good patterns of engagement.

But they did it – in a very short time. And now mass home working has been achieved, companies can assess the benefits.

 Employees are doing the same. And squeezing the home working genie back into the bottle might be a tough task for companies who want to a) go back to old practices and b) retain staff. In the new business normal, flexibility will be a necessity, not just a wish!

With experience under their belts, business owners will be opening their minds to some blue-sky thinking on future operations, where employees well supported by technology revel in working at home.

Maybe they’re dreaming of:

 

  •  Home working hubs where employees who live near each other invite colleagues to co-work with them
  • Offices reimagined as venues, where unbooked space is offered to other organisations for meetings or events
  •  Workspace as a moveable feast, reconfiguring with easily-positioned screens to accommodate the daily requirements of an agile workforce, who book space via a meeting room and desk scheduling software app
  • Secure borderless workspaces – companies whose entire workforce can work in any location, with the operational infrastructure supported by integrated workplace technology
  • Remote working being offered as a major benefit when recruiting staff, particularly digital-savvy Gen X and Zers
  • Offering an attractively flexible response to elements of people’s life – for instance, three days a week working from home, sabbaticals etc

 

3. Collaboration Tools – The Options And Pitfalls

 

This brave new world sounds great – but keeping an agile working system in tip-top condition requires support, timely maintenance and good management.

Successful use of remote collaboration tools will be the beating heart of post-pandemic business. The businesses who made the most successful transition to mass home working are those who support their workforce with integrated workplace technology, combining remote working with the easy ability to use the office when needed.

The technology enables them to set up a meeting, book a desk if they do need to come to the office, and organise their collaboration – all from an app on their phone.

 

4. Post-Pandemic Leadership

 

Across all businesses, leaders will need to develop and evolve their skill set to drive their business in a post-pandemic world.

 

Courage To Confront

 

Confronting the new reality will challenge many leadership teams who have to change business models, growth forecasts, compensation plans, financing needs - and above all, their approach to attracting and retaining top talent.

 

Super-Flexibility

 

The way these challenges are addressed will dictate the future shape and growth opportunities for businesses.

With social distancing here to stay for some time, organisations must begin with redefining business models and creating the workplaces that fit them.

 

Openness

 

Leaders will need to learn to engage with a team that may not be office based – the typical command and control structures based on presence will no longer apply.

These will be replaced by a more structured approach to communication designed to maintain “high touch” remotely, requiring greater trust and flexibility.

 

Caring

 

Managers will need active plans to support staff in other areas like wellness, paying particular attention to isolation and mental health.

 

So What Will Be Different? Almost Everything

 

The new business normal is an opportunity to press the reset button – a chance to address so many things that were not right with the old normal.

These range from the drudgery of commuting to work, to business models based on growth and cheap money, rather than sustainability and resiliency that serves all parties sustainably and preserves the environment.

The new normal should also be about actions that serve the global community, not just national or sector interests.

If this pandemic has served to bring the problems of the old normal into focus, we will have moved forward.. That is my real hope – and as the Dalai Lama so perfectly puts it:

"It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest opportunity for doing good, both for oneself and others."

Picture: A photograph of a shopping centre

Article written by Luis De Souza | Published 15 June 2020

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