On 6th May, CWSI hosted an expert panel as part of the TechCity Connect industry event to explore how firms can adopt an effective approach to remote working and learning – as well as the advances in online personal development.

As part of the event, we spoke to Tom Kennedy, Head of Sales for CWSI, to get his view on how firms are adapting to the current situation – along with how this will affect their long-term plans. Below is an extract from that discussion.

What’s your view on the current state of work and learning?

Remote working might be the hot topic of the moment, but Tom believes that the current situation has prompted the acceleration of a process that businesses were already embarking on.

“My view would be that the current state of working and learning is starting to move in the direction it should’ve done years ago,” he says. “We’re seeing a huge acceleration in adoption of digital transformation – with COVID-19 acting as the catalyst.”

“Firms have had to adapt quite quickly, and they’ve had to react to a situation that was maybe many people’s forecast and worst-case scenarios,” he continues. “When you look at risk registers in large global organisations, they’ll have an entry around pandemic planning, but the reality is that no one has ever really planned for 100% remote working being applied.”

“If the workplace is no longer an office, how do you make sure that you keep people connected while they’re remote?”

How will the shift to remote processes shape our return to the office?

Whether firms return to their offices in the coming months or not, Tom believes we’ll see a profound shift in our connection to our workplaces. “The office is seen as a source of community for many people. So, when you take that away, where does that sense of being part of the company come from?” he asks. 

“I think firms are going to have to develop new policies and practices to make sure their employees feel engaged,” he continues. “If the workplace is no longer an office, how do you make sure that you keep people connected while they’re remote? For me, that’s something that companies are going to have to focus on heavily.”

Tom sees this leading to a huge shift in thinking around real estate. “As we start going back to the office, it’s almost going to become a requirement to have a reason to go there, rather than just to turn up,” he explains. “No one will want to go there just for meetings – especially before there’s a vaccine.” 

“There’s going to be a sea change in how we see the office as a place of business,” he continues. “How we interact with our colleagues is going to have to be built around remote working. There’ll be a threshold where you ask: ‘do I need to go to that meeting in person?’ And I think that threshold will be quite high.”

“Remote working is about one thing: giving employees the ability to do their best work”

How will the current situation change leaders’ priorities?

Another element that Tom has thought on for a while is where the buck stops internally when it comes to remote working and making sure people are productive. “For me, remote working is about one thing: giving employees the ability to do their best work,” he explains. “And, to achieve that, they need the right devices, tools, and processes to deliver. So, who’s responsible for making sure that happens across the business?”

“Looking at firms today, there’s probably not one individual that has that responsibility,” he continues. “This will potentially elevate the role of modern workplace specialists – and it might be that there’s a Chief Remote Working Officer. This person would sit across all the functions, and their responsibility is to make sure that everyone has the tools to work securely from anywhere, at any time.”

“So, if anything happens again, the CEO can turn to this person and ask: ‘Are we set up correctly?’ Hopefully, the answer would be yes. To be in that position, however, the planning needs to start now.”

Read the full interview with Tom Kennedy to find out more about how firms can successfully make the move to a modern workplace. Download our Panel Insights paper and watch every event from TechCity Connect on-demand, here.

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CWSI’s mission is to transform businesses through mobility. It combines unrivalled knowledge and technical expertise with a range of solutions from industry-leading software partners to help firms maximise the business benefits of the mobile devices, applications, content and data they use. Find out more at cwsisecurity.com