After working remotely for the better part of a year, employees have proven they can do it, and do it despite the difficulties being at home may have presented. Going forward, that means that where people work may have changed permanently, according to chief information officers.
“We do not see a return to the traditional five-day-a-week in the office likely happening again,” said Brad Peterson, chief technology and information officer at Nasdaq Inc.
Like many CIOs, Mr. Peterson says a hybrid of home and office work will likely become the preferred option for most employees. Mr. Peterson was one of 45 IT executives who responded to CIO Journal’s annual end-of-year questionnaire on the future of the office and other topics.
Seth Cohen, global CIO at PepsiCo Inc., said employees want to hang on to the flexibility they gained in the pandemic. “We don’t need to go to the office to write emails and attend virtual meetings,” he said.\
Although in-person collaboration is preferable, employees are just as productive at home, said Max Li, global CIO at Automatic Data Processing Inc. Employees would often rather work from home because it gives them the freedom to structure their day in whatever way works best for them, he said.
“This has profound implications for the office model, as it is unlikely that we will ever go back to the way it was pre-Covid,” Mr. Li said.
Traditional office and desktop workspaces will become “pre-Covid artifacts,” said Chris Bedi, CIO of ServiceNow Inc. Indeed, employees will have the leeway to decide when, where and how they want to work, he said.
This new working approach will open new opportunities for technologies and new modes of transportation, CIOs predict. More immersive technology will be required to improve collaboration and productivity, said Eric Johnson, CIO at SurveyMonkey. He envisions virtual meetings where he can pull up a virtual whiteboard via an audio cue and easily conduct surveys during video calls.
“We will need better tools to collaboratively create content, including the ability to brainstorm on a whiteboard virtually,” said Jacqueline Guichelaar, group CIO at Cisco Systems Inc. Home networks will adopt enterprise-grade features like internet traffic prioritization to avoid household arguments over bandwidth usage, she predicted.
Ms. Guichelaar doesn’t expect employees to return en masse to the office. Instead, there will be greater acceptance of mixed location workforces, where teams work from different offices as well as remotely. Many employees have found they are more productive at home because of the time they save on commuting, she said.
The office of the future might be more a “showcase” than a workspace, she said. “When someone comes into the office, it should be a reminder of the company values and culture,” she said.