Asanka Abeysinghe of WSO2 shares his thoughts on the technologies that could transform our workplaces after Covid-19.
It’s hard to picture the future of work without technology, but Covid-19 has certainly accelerated the adoption of new tech tools and services. So, what devices and infrastructures might we rely on in the post-pandemic workplace?
Asanka Abeysinghe, chief technology evangelist at digital transformation company WSO2, has more than 20 years of experience in developing technology visions, designing and implementing scalable systems and business integration.
As many workforces around the world are shifting to a hybrid working model, he believes that self-managed teams will come to the fore. These will be “empowered, engaged and entrusted”, he said, contributing to an open culture and open communication.
Technologies for the post-pandemic workplace
Many of us have become familiar with a suite of remote working tools over the past year. We’ve used Zoom for work and non-work activities alike, seen Microsoft roll out a new platform to facilitate working from home and collaborated through cloud-based tools like Confluence and Asana.
But we might also have to contend with a whole new set of pandemic-proofing technologies if we return to the office soon. According to Abeysinghe, this may include everything from wearables to help crowd control to automated sensors in workplace lobbies.
“As businesses across the globe prepare to reopen offices, these environments will look drastically different than before the pandemic,” he said.
‘Environments will look drastically different than before the pandemic’
– ASANKA ABEYSINGHE
“Companies will have to heavily assess workspaces prior to opening. Analysing which areas could increase risk for transmission will be critical, as well as identifying the most common touchpoints around the building and office.
“When leaders can identify the touchpoint ‘hotspots’, it will be easier to know where to implement technologies and tools.”
Sanitation will be a particularly important aspect to keep in mind, he added. “Businesses will additionally have to invest significantly in touchless devices and technologies to keep the workplace sanitised and comfortable for all employees.
“The way internal meetings will run after the pandemic will look quite different than from before. For example, many organisations will resort to keeping virtual internal meetings for reducing the number of people in a single room, in comparison to meetings with clients and customers.”
To achieve this, companies might require their employees to wear wearable devices or may install movement-tracking sensors.
According to Abeysinghe, these will be key for monitoring staff activity, notifying leaders when an office is becoming overcrowded or reaching capacity, and ensuring safe distancing models and contact tracking.
“Having automated sensors in building lobbies will also help with controlling over-capacities and keeping workspaces safe, sanitised and comfortable for all.”
Infrastructures to invest in
Making these technologies work will require investing in certain types of infrastructure. For wearable devices, for example, connecting these to cloud-based access-control systems will need APIs.
“APIs empower employee management systems to control the amount of staffers in a building at a time, as well as help with automating new digital check-in procedures, alleviating the need for IT and HR teams to rapidly learn how to use these tools,” Abeysinghe said.
“API technology will also be crucial for hands-free functionality, rapidly improved reliability and remote access – removing the demand for IT teams to constantly be on site as well.”
He also sees IoT and big data occupying larger spaces in the post-pandemic workplace, enhancing overall connectivity and improving decision-making power.
“Using these integrated technologies will no longer be an option, but integral to keep workspaces sanitised and safe. Identity and access management will be critical for implementing policies and governance in a digital-native manner.
“Leaders will need to enforce governance and policies through automation, increase the digital channels and accelerate the internal and external digital transformation.”