Sergey Nivens - stock.adobe.com

Offices won’t be full for some time to come

Channel will have a role in helping customers adjust to a hybrid working world, with many staff indicating they will continue to work from home

Not long after the first lockdown started, so did the debates about what the future of work would look like once the pandemic ended.

Many in the channel have seen their staff work from home, the events calendar shift to a virtual one and questions raised about their own travel and work schedules.

The prevailing view held by senior channel executives MicroScope has spoken to in recent weeks is that staff will return to working two or three days a week in the office and that digital communication will remain important, with many events having a hybrid element.

When it comes to carrying out more substantial crystal ball gazing, it’s down to the likes of IDC to come up with some numbers that give a sense of what might be happening.

The analyst house noted that despite the number of people returning to offices increasing across Europe, it expected office occupancy numbers to remain lower than pre-pandemic levels.

IDC noted that the number of home-based office workers increased by 17.7 times last year, compared with 2019, and predicted that by 2025, daily office occupancy levels would be 30% lower than before the pandemic.

IDC is expecting a growth in the number of office-based professions but does not expect that growth to be strong enough to offset the overall declines in occupancy rates over the next four years.

“We are not going back to the way we worked before. The office will become more of a collaborative and creative space, with employees working from home at least one day per week. This has implications for the technologies used”
Mick Heys, IDC

“We are not going back to the way we worked before,” said Mick Heys, vice-president, future of workplace, at IDC. “The office will become more of a collaborative and creative space, with employees working from home at least one day per week. This has implications for the technologies used – it will be important to maintain digital equivalence for employees, irrespective of location, to maintain employee experience.”

Earlier this month, a survey of 2,000 British office workers conducted by Currys PC World in collaboration with Canon revealed that almost three-quarters would like to continue to work remotely part-time in the future and many had enjoyed not having to commute.

Saving money was top of the list of benefits of working from home, while many also said they enjoyed being able to get a better work-life balance and some reported being able to concentrate better away from the office.

From a channel point of view, vendors and resellers are already reacting to the picture IDC has painted, with more services emerging to cater for hybrid working. Many firms had to switch their staff to a remote working model overnight and issues remain that partners can help to solve.

Last month, Daisy Corporate Services (DCS) shared the findings of a survey that indicated that the majority of organisations expected up to half of their workforces to continue working from home this year, and many were reviewing their office needs.

As well as running the rule over real estate costs, the users quizzed by DCS revealed that they recognised the need to review networking and cyber security tools to make sure home workers were able to connect securely.

“It is clear that organisations will need to continue to support home working long into the future,” said DCS product director Richard Beeston. “While many organisations were able to navigate the short-term technology challenges posed by the rapid increase in home working, further transformation is required for it to be effective in the long term.”

Next Steps

Return-to-office debate sparks channel partner opportunity

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