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Will virtual offices and working from home become the new normal?

Will virtual offices and working from home become the new normal? Will this speed up digital initiatives?

The outbreak of the Corona virus has abruptly forced organisations around the World to instruct or encourage their employees to work from home. As a result, the vast majority have been left unprepared, from staff to infrastructure and technology. Many organisations now find themselves ill equipped to seamlessly and efficiently make the transition.

While there has been much talk surrounding traditional processes being reworked into digital ones, these projects took low priority. Testament to this is the volume of paper that is still present in a typical office environment. Now, more than ever, the drive towards digitization and automated processes takes on new meaning, as frustrated executives sit at home scanning and printing, staff become used to a different way of working, while managers grapple with their oversight role.

New questions arise:

Will working from home become the new normal? Will the organization be able to adapt? Do we really need all that office space? Is there a hybrid model? Are staff more productive working remotely? What impact does travel time and traffic stress have? Do we offer staff more family flexibility? Can we accommodate a more diverse geographical spread of skills? Do we need to cram people into open plan offices? Do staff need to be physically together to work effectively?

Realyst has been working remotely for several years, using project-based methodology for all its activities, the benefits have far outweighed the downside. We believe this forced migration to home working will change the working environment for the better in the future, as this virus stays with us, it will accelerate technology adoption and new ways of working.

New levels of efficiency will permeate through the virtual organisation, as sending paper-based documents, manual drafting of contracts, printing, scanning and physical signatures become obsolete. Automated approval processes, enforced delegations of authority, obligation and task management will become engrained, while the benefit of surfacing valuable data that digitization brings will be realized.

Many of these tools that enable remote working have been present for decades, and a large segment of traditional companies have either placed a low priority on adoption, or simply delayed or failed in digital transformation. If remote working is here to stay, there needs to be an urgent re-look and inevitable climb in priority of these digital initiatives.

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