It needed a pandemic…

Technologically, the tools and systems of the new workplace may not be drastically different but there are important contours that have changed

It needed a pandemic... - CIO&Leader

The concept of new workplace, as it is being touted now, has been there for quite some time. While the rational of such a workplace is known—and clear—to all concerned, the actual shift had not happened, because of our too familiar reason: gravitational pull. You can call it by name – inertia, call it resistance to change or fear of trying something new.

It needed a pandemic to make the shift happen. 

However, the mistake enterprises should guard against—especially those who have tried it earlier—that while the basic foundational blocks remain the same, the pandemic has introduced its new changes.

Technologically, the tools and systems of the new workplace may not be drastically different but there are important contours that have changed. 

Two major vectors contribute to that change. 

First is the change in the digitization level of the enterprise. The digitization levels of everyday things—especially those related to meetings and collaboration which constitute a major part of the work at office—have changed significantly in these 15 months. Both actual digital practices and digital quotients of people have changed significantly. So, what could have been optimal pre-COVID may not be optimal now. 

The second vector is consideration for safety. Human safety in general and social distance in the context of COVID in particular have become far more important in an office set up than they were ever before. 

The design of new workplace needs to consider these two explicitly—apart from other process and technological considerations. 

The Cover Story in CIO&Leader July 2021 Issue is a practical guide to plan the new workplace. We have earlier done stories and research on the changes in the workplace from a ‘trends’ perspective. This is the logical next step to that. This is a call for action.

Outlook towards work, the definition of workplace, the definition of work itself…all are undergoing huge change. I am using present continuous because we are still going through that big change. What we liked and disliked when the lockdown was imposed in many places and what we think about the same things now may be drastically different.

As always, we have to create a model that is flexible—rather than trying to discover what the big shift is.

Let me also take this opportunity to tell you about our 22nd annual conference which is happening virtually on 3rd and 4th September 2021. The theme this time is CIO Gurukul. As the name indicates, the focus is on creating a learning culture in the IT organization. 

Hope to see you in the conference!  

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