Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporate world has been endlessly circling one question: is the office dead?
Many of us share a similar story about 2020: a two week hiatus from the office became a year-long crash course in working from home. For some, remote work has offered relief from a long commute or cramped workstation. For others, it has meant meeting a deadline with a 2-year-old on your lap, or spending your days in complete isolation.
That to say: whether or not the office is dead—or should die—depends greatly on who you ask.
Grant Powell, a contributor at Forbes, wrote that the office isn’t dead—it’s “evolving” into a more flexible space. For Bloomberg’s finance section, Nisha Gopalan posited that the office is simply “convalescing” as many workers set their sights on a hopeful return to normalcy.
Ultimately, it seems this anxiety is standing in for a much more daunting reality: the pandemic didn’t just change where we work, it irrevocably changed how we work.
The state of engagement and the future of work
In Twilio’s 2021 State of Engagement report, we outline the past year’s major trends in digital communications according to enterprise decision makers across the globe. One of the key shifts we identified was the increased role of digital communications in the workplace—not just as a short term solution for the sake of necessity, but as a way to improve engagement for the long term.
The solutions that became the backbone of most corporate workplaces during the pandemic, from video conferencing to cloud-based information management, are neither particularly new nor particularly hard to implement. Rather, the prior resistance to these tools seemed to be about a sense of comfort and familiarity.
It’s easier to default to the norm rather than venture out to something new--but 2020 took choice out of the equation.
In order to compete, companies had to catch up to the digital transformation that was already well underway. Now, employees and consumers alike see the benefits, and many don’t want to go back; our report shows that an overwhelming number of organizations, around 95 percent, plan to increase or at least maintain their current communication channels once the pandemic has ended.
The office might not be gone for good—but the way we use it will never be the same.