Happy Holidays: Welcome to the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace
December 16, 2020

It is hard to believe that just one year ago, we were in Prague attending the European SharePoint Conference, learning about new SharePoint and Teams capabilities with our colleagues from the European SharePoint ecosystem.

European SharePoint Conference Dec 2019

As we anticipated the coming holidays, nobody could have predicted that within a few months we would all be sheltering at home, or that a year later COVID would afflict over 70M people and kill 1M people worldwide.

If there can be a silver lining to the COVID cloud, it was that during 2020 we learned to work remotely, which bodes well for the planet. With fewer people commuting and traveling, pollution levels dropped.

During the year, new collaboration technology played a big role in keeping economies functioning by helping to connect people working from home. Back in the Spring, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella already noted that “we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” And that was 8 months ago!  Today, we are even further along that journey. Case in point; Microsoft Teams has grown from 13 million users in July 2019, to 75 million in April 2020, to 115 million in December 2020.  Other collaboration tools have also seen stratospheric growth. SharePoint now boasts 200 million users, Zoom has grown from 10 million users to 300 million users in just 8 months, while Google Meet sees 100 million participants logging in every day.

The 2021 Digital Workplace

With the New Year almost upon us and the first approved COVID vaccines rolling off the assembly lines, can we expect to be back in our desks during 2021? The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’  Organizations will continue to work from home for the following reasons:

  • With collaboration infrastructure now widely deployed, people working from home now feel comfortable with the tools they have to do their jobs.
  • We now understand how much can be saved by eliminating commuting and travel times.
  • Enormous cost savings can be realized by eliminating expensive office space.

On the other hand, despite the productivity gains from ‘at home’ work, there are still a number of business activities we have been unable to replace in 2020. Specifically:

  • Face to face interactions for building trust between business partners
  • Networking at industry events
  • ‘In room’ intimacy for creative and ideation sessions
  • Team building by working shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in an office.

For these reasons, ‘in office’ work won’t be eliminated altogether. There is still a need for periodic face to face interactions. Therefore, the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace will incorporate an ideal mix of ‘at home’ work and ‘in person’ interactions. For example:

  • Work from home several days a week with face-to-face office hours 1 to 2 times a week
  • Work from local or regional satellite offices rather than big company megaplexes
  • Industry networking events will resume in 2021
  • Face to face customer meetings, but fewer than in pre-pandemic times

Collaboration in the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace

Regardless of our physical work location, in 2021 workers will still need to find important information quickly, and to reach out to colleagues for assistance with customer/partner related questions and requests. Therefore, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint will play an even bigger role next year. As workers go beyond using Teams for just virtual meetings, they will need a smooth user experience to connect their most used Microsoft 465 tools; Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint.

In 2021, harmon.ie will be with you every step of the way, making your Microsoft 365 user experience smooth and simple, so you can focus on getting work done.

Happy holidays!