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It’s been almost two years since the workforce left their desks at work, improvising space in bedrooms, cafes, far-flung Airbnbs or any private corner available. Some people have found new joy in the flexibility of working from home, while others find themselves longing for the structure and camaraderie that comes from the traditional office. 

In 2022, many organizations are building on the lessons of the past few years and finding a balance between remote and in-person work. As many companies prepare to welcome some employees back to the building (while others may not physically come back at all), it’s unlikely the workplaces we return to will look or function the same way they did before the pandemic. 

If we’ve learned anything since 2020, it’s that in-person, remote and hybrid workdays all come with perks and challenges. The task for the coming year is for companies to figure out the best way to combine these approaches in ways that function best for their employees. After all, 19 million unhappy workers have already quit their jobs since April, so organizations need to meet employees’ new expectations if they want to retain top talent. 

There are three important aspects to consider when imagining the future of work: space, place and pace. Finding the right balance between these elements may look different for every company as the reimagined office becomes the workplace of the future. But regardless of your industry or company size, one thing’s for sure - creative use of unified communications technology can bridge the distance between remote, in-office and hybrid workers and create an environment and culture sure to keep employees productive and engaged today, tomorrow and beyond. 

In the Office or in the Cloud: The Future of the Work “Space”

Before March 2020, the office space was a concrete concept. Employees took their daily commute to a building where they and their coworkers sat at desks, held meetings in conference rooms and chatted spontaneously in the coffee lounge.

Almost overnight, companies had to shift completely online. Data existed in the cloud, employees were faces on a screen and every interaction needed to be scheduled. The change was swift and, in some cases, haphazard, but workers adapted admirably to the demands of the pandemic. 

The past year has seen employers begin to experiment with hybrid options, enabling workers who needed to return to the office to do so. However, 77 percent of employees want to continue working remotely at least part time. 

In the future, it seems that the work “space” will exist somewhere between the physical office and the digital realm. Companies will need to find ways for in-person and remote workers to collaborate in ways that feel natural, using unified communications solutions like MiCollab to ensure seamless communications no matter where they are. 

Creativity grows best in a space where collaboration is easy. The workspace of the future will be highly connected through multiple channels, with employees working together through email, video calls, chats, persistent workspaces and shared documents. With a consistent set of teamworking tools on any device, MiCollab allows workers to feel like they’re fully connected no matter what space they choose to work in on any given day.

The Evolution from Brick-and-Mortar: The Connected Work “Place” 

The concept of the office has always been evolving. From the open floorplans of the early 20th century to the cubicle farms of the 90s and the collaborative workspaces of Google and Facebook, companies have adapted their layouts to fit the needs of the time.

When employees return to in-person work, it may not look like the same place they left. With fewer workers in the building at any given time, many companies are reconsidering the traditional functions of the office. 

The floorplan may shrink, and designated desks may become relics of the past. Instead, many companies are imagining adaptable workspaces with shared “zones” for whoever is in on a given day and large screens for videoconferencing with employees working remotely. With Mitel communications solutions, the line between remote and in-person work virtually disappears, allowing colleagues to seamlessly switch from text to video chat and whiteboard ideas in real time with screen sharing. With the right technology, the workplace of the future becomes agile, keeping employees productive and happy as they seamlessly shift from one workplace to another.

Goodbye 9-to-5: Hello to the New Work “Pace”

Something else that may soon be a thing of the past is the five-day, 40-hour work week. Up until recently, the constant connectivity of email and cell phones meant people were often on call around the clock.

At the start of the pandemic, many employees experienced burnout because they felt they had to be available anywhere, at any time. Video call fatigue set in, and there was no escaping the office because the office was home. Now, most people report that a flexible schedule is a must for the future. 

More recently, executives have recognized the value of non-linear days, allowing employees to structure their schedules on their own terms. In fact, studies have shown that 20 percent of people felt much more productive during the digital transformation than in a traditional office. 

Instead of reporting from 9-5, workers will instead build their schedules around collaboration, finding times when teams are available to brainstorm together, before breaking apart to complete their tasks. The right technology is required to make this vision a reality. Mitel solutions offer the best of both worlds, allowing workers near and far to stay connected and on top of their projects. With a single app, employees can text, video chat, share documents and collaborate on projects. Mitel’s communications offerings are flexible and easy to use, so employees will feel like They’re sitting next to their coworkers, even if they are on opposite coasts or even different continents.

The Future of Work

There’s no clear prediction of what work may look like in the future. Many companies are reimagining the concept of what it looks like to “come back” to the office. Each will find its own balance based on what functions best for them and their employees.

While we won’t be going back to the same office life we left in 2020, the adjustment this time won’t be as dramatic. Instead, we’ll use the lessons we’ve learned to build stronger connections with unified communications technology. Forward-looking companies will utilize unified communications solutions like Mitel’s to empower employees to collaborate and work together seamlessly, regardless of where the “office” is. 

The space, place and pace of the traditional office life may be changed forever. What is certain, though, is that the world is adjusting to a new normal and it’s likely to change the way we think about how, where and when we work.

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