More data is needed to define our new normal for work
(Source: zdnet.com)

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(Original link: zdnet.com)

More data is needed to define our new normal for work 24:29 Watch Now CXO ZDNet's top enterprise CEOs of the 2010s Executive dies, taking investor cryptocurrency with him. Now they want the body exhumed What is a CIO? Everything you need to know about the Chief Information Officer explained How machine learning is predicting employee turnover (ZDNet YouTube) Ring CEO defends police partnerships (CNET) How to overcome procrastination: A CXO guide (TechRepublic) TechRepublic's Karen Roby and Bill Detwiler discuss the "new normal" for offices with ZDNet's Larry Dignan and Steve Ranger. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Larry Dignan: I think the new normal is going to be a little bit more of a hybrid situation where it's part work in the office, part work from home, but I see it more skewed toward remote work, largely because we've gone to this open-office floor plan everywhere, and that's no longer viable. I don't think we're all running back to the office as fast as people hope, largely because all those floor plans need to be altered. That requires more investment, it requires more partitions or however they're going to do it. All you need to do is look at the reports and call centers out of South Korea. In some of those research reports, they show how coronavirus travels, and I see it as a major challenge. And I don't think companies are really into rushing back workers per se.
SEE: COVID-19: A guide and checklist for restarting your business (TechRepublic Premium)
And meanwhile, workers are also going to be skeptical because if you have to take mass transit, how do you feel about that? And then the other thing is just your kids, like what's the school situation look like, because the schools are going to be on a hybrid situation, in best case. I think that's the new normal. And then over time, we're going to see whether work winds up being more remote, whether it be 50/50 or what that looks like. But I think everybody from the companies to the workers, all knowledge workers, basically, I think they're all questioning this run-back-to-the-office plan. I just think it's going to be a lot more complicated than we think.
Karen Roby: Bill, we were talking earlier just about what this means from an IT standpoint and how IT teams have really had to step up to make sure this can be taken care of. And now what does that mean going back to the office or not? What are your thoughts there?
Bill Detwiler: I think people have to plan for the emergency measures that they put into place to enable people who traditionally, maybe didn't work at home or to allow more people to work at home, being used for another six months, maybe another year and maybe for the foreseeable future, maybe permanently as, like Larry says, businesses decide, we can maintain productivity, maybe even increase productivity in some areas by allowing people to work remotely. And we can reduce our overhead costs when it comes to facilities, when it comes to corporate real estate. And maybe they simply just can't prepare the offices physically to enable social distancing. I think, as an IT leader, you have to look at your infrastructure. You have to look at the hardware, you have to look at your software, you have to look at your processes and just plan for working remotely.
Now, whether you have the right kind of laptops, the right kind of mobile devices and phones, do you have the right kind of plans. ... And Karen, I know you had an incident just last week. We were supposed to film this last week and we couldn't because your internet went down. And so that's a problem, an IT problem that, if it were to happen in an office setting, you would have someone maybe on-site who could diagnose that problem, working with the ISP. When it happens at home, you essentially now have hundreds or thousands of locations that you have to deal with. So you need to have contingency plans for that and work with your employees and your departments to have contingency plans. I think that is really something that leaders have to start grappling with now and looking at how they make those emergency measures a little more permanent.
SEE: Top 100+ tips for telecommuters and managers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Karen Roby: Steve there in the UK, I know the government is setting out some regulations or what they anticipate or expect offices to look like, and it will be very different for workers there. How do you feel like it's going there?
Steve Ranger: I think the assumption that we all work in an office and we work in an office every day is something that's probably been fading over the last decade, maybe a bit longer, but what's happened now is absolutely going to change that forever. I think the assumption that we all go to an office is pretty much over, I think. So what kind of employee is going to have to work with, is that kind of fluidity of, well, maybe we will have some people in the office, but there's going to be a lot more room around the...