Which Technologies Will Get Us Back to the Office?

Brian Watson

In my last post, I noted that companies that made significant and critical investments in digital transformation have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic--particularly the shift to remote work--better than those that have not, according to our recent conversations with CIOs and digital leaders.

Before the pandemic, research from the St. Louis Fed found that only about 4 percent of U.S. employees worked from home. That number has spiked to more than 50 percent now.

When we talk about the “new normal,” that might be it.

Following a Traction Technology video conference last week with a group of elite CIOs, my colleague Erick Schonfeld noted that two of those CIOs said they were actively planning for only 50 percent of their workforces to return to workplaces once the COVID-19 outbreak subsides. We expect to hear announcements like that very soon.

The big question: How can companies do this safely?

We’ve seen a flurry of prognostications about how this will happen.

PwC already has an app for that, and Salesforce is releasing a new one as well. But a little food for thought about how long this could take: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, speaking on CNN just now, said that it will likely take 18 months or so to ease back into offices. And with that, we need to be thinking about a resurgence of the virus later this year, as top public health officials have warned.

What we know for sure is that technology will play the most pivotal role of all. We at Traction Technology have heard leaders talk about different infrared technologies that can measure workers' temperatures, and more apps to help employees track their health status from home to work. Undoubtedly we will see even more breakthroughs that help us (safely) thrive as time goes on. And it's likely that a lot of the capabilities that will matter most will be ones we hadn't thought of, or saw as nice-to-have features.

We'll be posting about some specific apps and tech that catch our eye. If you come across something interesting, let me know about it.

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