Unified Communications Mar 05, 2021

It’s the workplace…but not as we know it

By Aminder Athwal Global Technical Solutions Architect for Enterprise Networking, Cisco

While it’s true that 9-to-5 office-based work is pretty much an extinct concept in the post-pandemic era, the general consensus is that we’re moving towards a hybrid model.

This means workers will flit between working from home, from the office and other locations, as they see fit or as their company / government dictates. One of the key learnings from recent events is about being prepared for change and having the inherent flexibility built into connectivity platforms so that business as usual can continue. 

However, the office remains an important part of working life. The camaraderie of coming together to work is something that no video call or instant message chat can ever truly replicate – we are, after all, social creatures. Indeed, for anyone starting a new job, especially younger people who have moved to a new city for their first gig fresh out of college or university, we cannot overlook the risk of social isolation in a remote-working world.

For many good reasons, office-based work will not (arguably, cannot) stop completely. But we must accept that it’s going to look very different, and that the way we use the space inside an office building (and even outside it) is going to change quite a lot.

A new kind of workplace

For example, the traditional layout of the office, with dedicated desks or cubicles and enclosed meeting rooms will no longer be practical. Flexibility, fresh air and plenty of space is the order of the new era, and every office will need some sort of hot-desking arrangement that is suitable for different people coming and going at different times.

But even hot-desking will need to be different. Desks will need to be regularly sanitised, and that means ensuring they’re easy to keep clean, with as few items in contact with the desk as possible. And what about fresh air? Could we conceivably work outside the building at times, or at least in covered outside spaces?

Collaboration in the office and beyond

You need a partner who can offer super high-quality wi-fi to your employees: in the office, outside the office in these new covered spaces, in the home or on the road, and with associated user permissions and profiles that keep everybody on the inside safe and those outside – outside. You also need to consider working with a provider who can offer a full breadth of collaboration tools, to ensure effective collaboration-level experiences, wherever your people are located.

What’s more, you should consider wi-fi technology that can collect a wealth of valuable analytics data to determine how a space is being used – including how many people are present, where they are located, and which can even provide video footage to show whether social distancing and health and safety practices are being effectively observed.

Of course, this has value for a variety of industries and non-office-based workplaces, too. In retail, for example, you can monitor the movement of people through a store and see where and how shoppers move and what they browse, providing insight for shop layouts and, of course, valuable security measures. In busy environments such as manufacturing and distribution centres, you can learn about the flow of workers through high-density locations and adjust working patterns accordingly to avoid overcrowding or bottlenecking. The applications are virtually endless.

And yes, it will likely mean an investment in your infrastructure, and that means added expenditure – but that’s where we come in, modelling business cases and ROI studies to show if it’s the correct course of action. Cisco and BT have been partners for decades, and we work together as a single uniform entity. That means you get our trusted technology backed by BT’s formidable supply chain and management expertise. The result? Better value and a lot less red tape, crafting a total solution (and not building point services and hooking them together), no matter how complex you need it to be.

So, whatever the office of the future looks like… you can be ready for it.

Find out more

To learn more about Cisco and BT’s partnership, and our full portfolio of managed communications and collaboration services, get in touch.