2021 technology trends predictions from Poly's ANZ Managing Director, Andy Hurt.
After a year of unprecedented change which forced millions of employees to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses can expect to see continued change well into the new year as employees and business leaders discover new ways of working. Here are our predictions for 2021 tech trends...
In 2021 we expect to see more organisations adopting the new hybrid work model, which redefines what ‘working’ means. Work isn’t a place, it’s what you do – and as we move to the hybrid working model, work is no longer defined by how many hours you’re tied to your desk, but instead focuses on outcome-based working. This means the hours we work, where we are located and who we meet are only relevant in pursuit of results.
It’s important to note that hybrid working is different to ‘remote working’ or ‘work from anywhere’ – a true hybrid work model means that for an employee, their experience is the same no matter where they are. To do this, businesses will need to look beyond the central office to create collaborative, technology-enabled personal workspaces across multiple locations, with immersive, productive workspaces that accommodate the workstyle of every employee.
Putting people first will be the key to ensuring a successful hybrid working model. In order to take care of employees’ mental health and wellbeing, organisations will need to find the right balance between time away from the office vs time connecting face to face. We want staff to feel connected yet not to a point where it results in conference fatigue – there will likely be a few kinks to iron out as each organisation finds the right mix.
With more businesses adopting the hybrid working model, we’re expecting 2021 to be about optimising productivity through collaboration. We’ll see businesses transform their physical environments to allow for increased collaboration (increasing the number and size of huddle rooms, for example) and we’ll also see the rise of new digital collaboration and teleconferencing tools.
Call centres who had to abruptly shift to a work from home model at the height of the pandemic are expected to revisit their standard resourcing and look to how they can move to a more dispersed model, through the adoption of these new collaboration tools, on a more permanent basis.
However, with no clear division between home and office, boundaries blur. Leaders will need to ensure that remote employees can switch off, take breaks, and don’t feel pressured to answer communications sent late at night.
Services beyond the hardware
With a workforce split amongst multiple locations, organisations will be looking for tech providers who offer more than just hardware or software; they’ll be looking for solutions providers who also offer support services. Downtime due to tech glitches are a disruption employees simply can’t afford – they need to have business critical support that will rapidly diagnose issues and have them resolved quickly. As technology and its ability to connect a disparate workforce grows in importance, so will the need to have support services on standby to ensure that technology continues to work seamlessly and without disruption.
Teleconferencing as a service
We’re going to see the As-a-Service model app take off with enterprise grade teleconferencing hardware. Similar to the way a consumer might bundle the price of a smartphone with their phone bill, we expect to see telcos moving into this space, offering headsets, speakerphones, video bars and other conferencing technology on a month-to-month paid plan. For organisations – particularly small to medium businesses – spreading the cost of the tech investment across a number of years provides the flexibility for businesses to invest in the highest quality equipment for the best experience for their employees.
In 2021 we will see consolidation in the channel. The standard models that people have been using to make money in the channel will change – there will no longer be room for so many separate resellers and distributors. A lot more companies will want to expand their offering; perhaps becoming resellers and partners in the cloud space rather than just the hardware space. This may result some channel businesses with complimenting service offerings merging their offerings to become a one-stop-shop for customers.
Home offices and the rise of the prosumer
We’re going to see a huge transformation in the home office. With more people expected to continue working from home in 2021, home offices will be upgraded and renovated. More than just throwing a chair and desk in the spare room, those working from home will be looking for the same experience they have in the office – comfortable furniture, good lighting and enterprise grade technology and connectivity.
This will make way for the rise of the prosumer – the professional consumer – who isn’t shopping for the cheapest tech to get them by during a temporary lockdown situation. Prosumers are transforming their homes for the long haul, and want to kit out their home offices with lightning speed internet, comfortable, noise blocking headsets, and crystal clear audio and video conferencing solutions which allow them to join Zoom and MSFT Teams meetings with the click of a button.
With a growing remote workforce – and a very real need to keep work life and home life separate to avoid burnout - it’s very possible that homes with a dedicated workspace with the latest upgrades will be viewed more favourably by buyers.
Commercial real estate
With larger numbers of employees expected to continue working away from the office in 2021, we’re going to see an interesting challenge in terms of commercial real estate. With a reduced headcount on site, companies will likely want to downsize their building commitments, leasing less square meterage than before.
With a need to connect with more staff in different locations, the way employees work and communicate with each other will change. Because of this, workspaces will need to be upgraded with technology that allows for seamless collaboration; expanding their technology investment to create consistent, enterprise-grade experiences for every worker, whether they are at home, in a co-working location or in a company office.