Getting Your ‘Return’ to Work Strategy, Right

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It is probably fair to say that right now, it is not easy to predict when the UK will be returning to ‘work’, in the literal sense. As the rules of lockdown start to ease a little and as some of us start to think about life outside of our homes, it’s definitely time for businesses to start planning their return to work strategy and considering what the ‘new normal’ might look like.

Whilst considering the future of our working lives, businesses need to take stock and reflect upon the challenges and successes of the past few months. Whilst we may have replaced face to face chats with colleagues in the office with a daily video call, and while our work has become more flexible, remote and reliant on technology, that’s not to say that we’ve not been productive.

In fact, quite the contrary, according to a recent Gartner survey, 41% of employees are now anticipated to work remotely in a post-COVID world. If one thing is for sure, it’s that COVID-19 has accelerated what would have been a decades worth of changes to our working ways, in just a matter of months.

Whilst remote work seemed a million miles away from a reality, it’s here to stay and businesses need to ensure that they’re adopting the right tools and technologies to plan for a new future.

The data challenge

The return to work is going to look different for each and every single person. Some of us may find ourselves headed back to the office, whilst others might opt to work remotely 100 or 50 percent of the time.

Regardless of what we decide to do, it is critical that businesses get the right infrastructure in place to support the long-term distribution of data. For example, businesses are now being forced to digitize, meaning that the way they operate is going to rely much more on data sets.

Many organizations have already struggled to democratize data and enable self-service in a world where consumers of data, the data sets themselves and the data professionals that curated the data were in the same physical location. As we flip to more remote ways of working, that data flow will stagnate without serious consideration and insight will be lost.

As such, businesses need to find ways to unlock their data, centralize it into a data catalogue, and make sure that it is accessible and searchable for all within the business so that they do not need to rely on IT or data professionals to grant them access to this. Greater access to data, leads to more insight-led decisions.

Getting the tech right

To democratize data sets, you need the right technology tactics in place. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play, by automating the integration and centralization of data, whilst also building a self-maintaining, searchable catalogue of an organizations data assets.

To maximize productivity, regardless of location, you need to use AI to enable self-service analytics for the less technical-savvy users. In doing so, you can then integrate machine learning technology into the platform to automate data integration and discovery. To then support in the automation of digital transformation solutions, it is important to deploy a data lake.

AI plays a large role in speeding up the process of data management, helping businesses to make informed decisions, faster. For example, adopting integration tools that connect to the cloud allow for the AI to spot any anomalies in the data, keeping the data stored clean. Getting the right process in place for data cleansing is important if you’re to deliver the high-quality insights needed from the data warehouse.

Whilst it may not sound like getting a robust data management strategy in place will affect our return to work, it will actually improve our working lives. With a process in place that simplifies data cleansing and delivers informed, data-led insights, the business can be more productive. Employees will no longer need to worry about carrying out the mundane day to day tasks that often result in error. It also means that they can manage the data remotely, without the need to spend 100 percent of their time in the office.

As businesses start to plan the return to work, we need to remember that this is about more than simply getting back into the office. It is about preparing for a more digital, more productive and more secure future.

Therefore, if you don’t already have a robust AI-led data management strategy in place, ask yourself why not. As a time saving tool that can benefit a more digital and remote workforce, AI and automation are going to be key tech players in the future of our working world.

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