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Zoom, the office and the future: What will work look like after coronavirus?

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, there have been many questions about what (or even where) the workplace will be in the future, particularly for people who work at companies based in traditional offices.

Video-based conference calls on platforms like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, etc. are with us to stay. It’s an approach that literally overnight went from something unusual to completely mainstream, and the remote workplace has created new habits.

Yes, there’s a growing awareness that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing – well, at least, too many video calls. As a result, the number and length of video-based meetings will likely decline somewhat over time, but they aren’t going to disappear. They are starting to evolve, however, thanks to the immense competition among the different platforms and the critical factor that programmers who are creating these tools have to use them extensively as well.

In addition to lots of new views of participants and content, we’ve begun to see immensely practical benefits like the real-time audio transcription of a meeting – making it significantly easier and faster to confirm your notes, double-check what was said, or catch up on a meeting you may have missed.

Beyond video calls, however, other changes are clearly afoot. Most importantly, the density of work environments is almost certainly going to decrease, and the implications from that move are many. When employees do start to return to the office – and those dates keep getting pushed further and further back for many organizations – some companies plan to implement rotating schedules to reduce the number of people in a given space.

Others plan to increase the amount of space they have in order to spread people out, while still others have adjusted to larger numbers of work-from-home employees and, therefore, expect to reduce the office space they have.

In most cases, the work environments people return to will include physical changes to facilitate social distancing practices through the introduction of things like plastic barriers, higher cube walls, rearranged environments, and more.

More people may start to consider longer-term workplace alternatives – either more permanent work-from-home arrangements (potentially even in other cities – as some have started to do) or a more nomadic type of work lifestyle, where people start working from a range of different locations including their homes, offices, coffee shops, and other places, just to bring a bit of variety to their everyday experience.

Connectivity technologies like 5G and enhanced versions of Wi-Fi will be critical in all these situations because of the absolutely essential need for high-speed connections. Thankfully, we’re starting to see many more mobile PCs that integrate these technologies come to market from major vendors.

In addition to enhanced hardware, we’re starting to see companies look at new software solutions to both ease the back-to-office process, as well as improve the overall employee experience. In the case of the former, companies like Cisco are leveraging their position as providers of in-office wired and wireless networking equipment to create solutions.

Further down the road, we may well fall back into more of our old work habits and environments, though even those won’t be exactly the way they were. For the next year or so, however, and especially as we enter into a more uncertain cold weather, indoor-focused winter season, it seems likely that the near-term future of work is going to be pretty similar to what we’ve been experiencing. It’s still a work-at-home world.

Here at YWCA Saskatoon, our Employment and Learning staff are working in-person by appointment, and remotely through email, phone, and Zoom. Should you have any questions about resumes, job searching, job interviews, or job searching online, feel free to contact the Employment and Learning Centre for support.  You can reach us at:

Stay motivated; stay healthy as you achieve your employment goals.

You can view the full original article by Bob O’Donnell President and Chief Analyst of TECHnalysis Research at:  

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2020/09/07/zoom-work-from-home-future-office-after-coronavirus/5680284002/