The ball has dropped, the confetti has fallen, and the calendar turns to another year! We have never been more ready for the old year to leave and the new one to begin! As we sing “Auld Lang Syne’s” first verse: “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” we’d like to answer an emphatic “yes” as it relates to our old acquaintance 2020. The truth is, though, we won’t be able to leave everything behind. The new reality of 2021 is here and with it, the continuation of changes in business and office dynamics that were forged during 2020.
Before the pandemic of 2020, about 31% of workers responding to a “Global Workplace Analytics” survey said they were working from home on a regular basis (at least one day per week). During the pandemic that percentage shot up to 88%, with 77% working five days per week from home – only 9% were doing so previously. Research firm Gartner expects that almost half (48%) of workers will remain as work-from-home (WFH) employees even after the pandemic.
COVID-19 simply accelerated the trend toward a remote, WFH workforce that was already underway. Employee expectations and employment dynamics have fundamentally changed. Although most employees don’t expect to continue working from home full-time, on average they are expecting the flexibility to do so one to two days per week. Meeting these expectations will be critical for employers, since 50% of workers said they would not return to jobs that did not offer WFH. Creating and supporting the new reality of a hybrid workforce comprised of full-time WFH staff, full-time in-office workers and those who split their time presents challenges in the choice and implementation of technologies like document management solutions that can keep underlying business processes running smoothly.
An organization needs to understand these new workforce dynamics and how to connect the right business documents and information with the right workers from wherever they may be working. Whether it’s modifying the way printers and copiers are acquired and managed or streamlining business processes, a thorough analysis of your firm’s document and information workflows in light of the “new reality” of your workplace is needed. An experienced document management solution provider can offer the type of analysis, recommendations, and implementations of the solutions you need to successfully support the hybrid workplace.
The hybrid workforce model means employees will return to the office and actually be on-site for all or some part of the workweek. As vaccine rollouts get underway around the country and the world, those returns are going to accelerate. Organizations need to appropriately balance the deployment or re-deployment of printers and copiers to ensure that the new workforce of office and remote workers are adequately supported while print and print management costs are kept under control. New emphasis needs to be placed not only on active print management through managed print services (MPS) but also through other document and IT management services added to the MPS agreement, which can help manage other workflows, business processes, and IT services.
From a health standpoint, six in 10 employees are concerned about returning to the office, with 71% reporting their main concern as getting sick. Even after the “exuberant vaccine spring“ we eagerly await, those concerns are likely to remain. Shared office devices like copiers or printers have high-touch operator panels that must be kept disinfected. In the new workplace reality, touchless solutions that let a worker interact with a printer or copier via their smartphone or through voice commands eliminate the need to touch the device itself, lend a feeling of well being and safety to employees as they carry out routine tasks.
Cybercrime spiked during the pandemic, with the FBI reporting between 3,000 and 4,000 cybersecurity complaints per day in April. Many of those are the result of cybercriminals taking advantage of a WFH workforce that is more vulnerable to cyberattacks. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reports that 25% of SMBs reporting a data breach in the previous six months filed for bankruptcy and 10% went out of business. These sobering statistics emphasize that securing an organization’s data must never be out of style. With the new reality of the hybrid workforce, maintaining that protection as well as complying with privacy regulations has never been more important or challenging.
With a distributed workforce, it is important to put in place security policies and technologies that employees can adhere to and organizations can securely manage and monitor. Document solutions that provide data encryption in transit and at rest, access and authentication controls, virus and malware protection, device boot-up protection, and secure print can all help ensure an organization remains safe from data breaches and other security issues.
The year 2021 will offer an outstanding opportunity for growth to those organizations who are prepared to understand the new dynamics of the workplace and support the new realities of the workforce. As an experienced solution and document management provider, we will work with clients to navigate those new dynamics, recommending and implementing the features and protocols the new workplace reality demands, from remote document management to security solutions.
Contact us at www.centricbiz.com for more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our solutions specialists to discuss what you can do to take advantage of the opportunity.