The New Normal – Part 2: Human-centric Work Environment

In our last article we began the discussion of the New Normal and we are continuing with the topic today from the technological perspective.

Human-centric Work Environment Enabled by Technology

The advantages of remote work for human beings, businesses, and society are not entirely new of course.  Scholars and experts have been promoting its benefits for the past 30 years. (Yoko wrote her dissertation “Impacts of telework on urban and residential environment in the United States” in 2005). Remote work has always been possible to different degrees with whatever technology was available at the time. It is now being universally adopted however due to the pandemic, peoples’ increased awareness and desire for healthier lifestyles, and advances in technology.

It is a fact that people are invested in their health and wellbeing now more than ever. Remote working supports this in numerous ways including better work-life balance, increased exposure to nature, and more time to connect with our communities as previously mentioned. 

In the history of civilization, there has never been a more technologically supportive ecosystem to meet this explosion of remote working. There are applications for the coordination of work streams and teams, repositories to store, share and co-author or edit documents in real time, tools that make remote work as seamless as sitting in the same office space. Hardware and software to personalize and network our digital work spaces for maximum efficiency and comfort. Virtual applications that create environments for function and play that just falls short of replicating the in-person process. Digital connectivity that bridges vast distances and reduces dependencies on resources that harm our environment.  Technology can and has enabled individuals, businesses, communities, and countries to connect, share, learn, manage, improve, grow, perform, function, and produce in new and before unimagined ways. 

Challenges with The New Normal

There are of course issues and concerns with this New Normal. Isolation is a major concern. No matter how technologically connected we are, we need human interactions. Strategies are needed to ensure that these networks not only work for business functions but also take care of workers’ more personal needs. The soft skills or needs that are often overlooked in real life, are even more important in the remote work landscape.

On a larger scale, issues including redistribution of roles among different regions, such as urban centers, suburbs and rural areas will need to be addressed.  We will look at these concerns in future articles and ways to mitigate them.

In summary, the New Normal is the human-centric work environment, and the network of such environments enabled by technology that will support the well-being of people, thriving businesses and a resilient society.

Our next article will look at the concept of Body and Space, and Technology.

(Written by Yoko Kawai and Yvonne Burton)