Excerpt from Tango’s virtual retail summit Moving Forward: Workplace 2.0 on June 24-25, 2020.
Pranav Tyagi – President & CEO, Tango:
“Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting angle to this. Not a lot of people think about this in this manner. I know earlier on, Xavier, you and Brett both had talked about the fact that the data is still being collected. We don’t really know what the end result is going to be, what people are going to do, but there are some parallels in retail as an example. The retail and corporate are very different, but there are some parallels because retail has had to adapt to an online consumer behavior change. I’ll give you some examples because this is an interesting topic as well. Employees have gotten to experience remotely in the last three months, somebody called it, I think Brett you called it a really badly organized proof of concept.
“But on the retail side, it was almost no different than we did shopping online. But it was by choice because they had options available to them. That has had a lasting impact on the attitudes of those consumers on the retail side. Similarly, I think people once they’ve gotten the taste of working from home, there’s going to be a lasting impact on their choices and decisions. There are some people who’ve never worked from home before, now they have been forced to for three months, and they may never want to go back to an office. Yet there are others who, after having experienced work from home, have decided this is not for them for a variety of reasons. So I think it is no different than the experiences that consumers have had in retail. I think employees have had some opinions formed as part of this.
“I think another aspect that people need to think about is, just like in retail, not everything works great online. Some things work really well. Brett, you talked about job functions because some job functions are really well suited to virtual. On the retail side as well. For the longest time, food delivery wasn’t necessarily the best thing online in the last couple of years, and the last year in particular or last few months in particular, and I think they’re busting the paradigms on restaurant and in food and takeout with all the apps out there. But similarly, on the corporate side, there are some areas that just will not work well with this.
“When you move beyond that to the sense of belonging, the sense of community, as Xavier you talked about. Employees want to belong to an organization, to a culture, want to attract other people. In the retail context, loyalty programs are exactly that. You get accustomed to the benefits of belonging to something. You get some things out of it that may or may not be financial. I think another parallel that I would draw is on the construction and remodeling side. Retailers have had to adapt stores to begin with the only channel strategy. Customers buy things online, they come into the store and buy things, or they may order things online and pick them up at the store. That’s an exact parallel to how the offices of the future have to be.
“Employees may do some things from home, like Xavier you said, but then come in for specific meetings in the office. That flexibility, the agility, that’s exactly appropriate. I think another example that I’ll give, a couple of years ago, there was this whole big “aha” about showrooming in retail. People go into the store and look at things and go online and buy things. I think people have to think about what work goes to employees at their homes and what work requires employees to come into the office. I think that’s a trend. Widely, retail and corporate are not the same animals. I think there’s a lot of similarities that we can draw from the experiences on the retail side that I think are pointing us to where this is going to work.
“I think the fundamental point here is, the seamless transition from working remotely to being in the office and back from working remotely is entirely dependent on the quality of tools that are available for those employees and the other things you put around their online experience. What do you do in terms of keeping them engaged? What are you doing in terms of keeping a sense of belonging and culture? In addition to how good are the tools that I can take some meetings remotely? I can take some meetings sitting at my kitchen table because it’s on a video conference versus meetings that require I go into the office, maintain the appropriate social distancing, but can get more done because we’re all working on the same whiteboard. So I think there are some balancing acts, but there are clearly some insights we can get from experiences in other industries. ”
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