The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred governments, financial institutions and brands into a frenzy. Even as Southeast Asia markets start to gradually ease restrictions, 74% of businesses are now shifting to allow some employees to work remotely on a permanent basis. While physical office spaces will not go away, workplace dynamics and the need for a physical office will be reduced, transforming the workplace like never before.
This departure from the workplace environment that we used to know is a significant step towards digital transformation. In fact, COVID-19 is accelerating the urgent need for digital transformation for businesses all over the world.
To help organisations adapt to this “new normal” and embrace the changes, Epson developed a whitepaper where it evaluates the need for highly reliable and innovative technologies to help alleviate stress and enable greater productivity, wherever the new work environment may be.
New behaviours that will transform the future
To help people navigate the new workplace, below are some of the behaviours that are likely to remain in place in a post-COVID-19 world:
1. A Virtual Workforce
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic started, technology was readily available to support flexible working with messaging platforms such as Zoom, Slack, Skype and Microsoft Teams all providing remote working options. At the same time, the health crisis has accelerated this transition and forced many organisations into becoming a predominantly virtual workforce.
Adaptability in this era of digital transformation is critical. As companies prepare to make remote working the new normal, our reliance on technology is now stronger than ever, with teams of individuals now having to learn to collaborate, operate, and communicate virtually. Even when the economy recovers, many believe that remote working is set to be a permanent fixture in our working culture.
One of the biggest benefits to the rise of a virtual workforce is costs savings. This manifests in a reduction in rental, on-premise technology spends, as well as financial benefits for employees, who no longer need to commute to a physical office, giving businesses few reasons to return back to traditional working styles.
2. Right tools are needed to support a hybrid working environment
As we move to embrace hybrid workplaces, it is important to ensure that employees are equipped with the right tools to ensure productivity, regardless of where they are working from. Office workers are used to having access to different types of technology.
However, as they migrate to the home-based working environment, some workers may not enjoy the same level of access to essential hardware such as scanners or printers. As such, it is essential that technologies that facilitate home office printing, scanning or labelling, are readily available.
For example, the availability of a document scanner at home can help professionals scan various paper documents and connect wirelessly to a smartphone, tablet or computer, as well as online cloud storage accounts.
While some may argue that it exposes confidential documents to cyber risks, many scanners (including Epson’s) today are equipped with top notch security technology to digitally archive vital documents and information fast, efficiently and productively. This improves productivity by quickly digitising and organising hard-copy prints such as invoices, expense reports, receipts, business and ID cards, and documents – turning them into searchable and editable PDFs.
Tools with lower energy consumption and higher yield are also preferrable.
3. E-commerce will become a way of life
The COVID-19 outbreak has refocused consumer purchase priorities leading to new shopping habits. Across Southeast Asia, online grocery vendors have experienced a surge in orders as more consumers choose to stay indoors to order their groceries online, rather than venturing out and being physically present in a store.
With this in mind, the online shopping trend is here to stay, and it’s evident that the pandemic has accelerated new e-commerce behaviours as consumers become more accustomed to the various online platforms and will continue to conduct purchases online, even after a solution to COVID-19 is found.
This shift in consumer behaviour point to the fact that technology will continue to play a significant role in the next normal environment. As work, learning, and shopping behaviours move from predominately offline to online, there is soaring demand for new technology solutions to help improve the consumer journey, improving convenience and efficiencies.
4. Sustainability becomes pertinent to every business
Sustainability awareness has also accelerated during the COVID pandemic. This is due to the environmental and social factors that have been front and centre on the global stage, showcasing the need for companies to emphasise long-term sustainability over short-term profits.
In these unprecedented times, the future of work is changing rapidly and businesses need to be prepared. Even as people start to return to physical offices, its highly likely that workplaces will never be the same again. Businesses need to take precautions through the implementation of safe distancing measures, as hygiene and social distancing continue to be a top priority for business owners, as well as employees.
 The Experts in What Consumers Want and Why’, Mintel