Before the pandemic upended the way we work, supporting employees was mostly about providing a modern office space, opportunities for professional development, mobile tech and collaborative platforms, and maybe a ping-pong table and snacks. For the most part, employers didn\u2019t have to worry much about what happened after workers went home. That was then, however.\nIn the aftermath of COVID-19, businesses have had to reimagine every aspect of operations, including how work gets done and where. Most of us have had to learn to work from anywhere on any device, and companies have had to figure out how to keep their workers productive and enterprises safe and resilient in a challenging environment. Even as the pandemic eventually moves into its next phase (\u201cAlive\u201d as phase 2 in the Novel Economy), it will not be business as usual. Companies must find new and lasting ways to support their employees in an all-digital world, venturing far beyond what they did before.\nCompanies must support employees wherever they are\nWhen the pandemic hit early in 2020, most companies had to scramble to support remote work overnight at scale. Over time, it became clear that the arrangement wasn\u2019t likely to be temporary \u2014 the work-from-anywhere world, well overdue, is thankfully here to stay. In a global survey from more than 20,000 people around the world, Salesforce found that 60% of respondents expect remote work to become the norm, and almost two-thirds believe companies will be more flexible about working hours going forward. It\u2019s important to understand that before COVID, or \u201cBC\u201d as I call it, the idea of WFH wasn\u2019t well accepted. There were trust issues. IT felt that modern employee expectations meant they were \u201cspoiled.\u201d\nWhile the acceleration of telecommuting (tele...we can talk about the relevance of that as a prefix another time) emerged out of necessity, many employees and companies have found that working from anywhere has its benefits. Employers are often finding they can save on costs while workers are just as productive, and often more satisfied. And I understand, and let\u2019s all appreciate, that productivity may be the wrong metric. But, people aren\u2019t just doing more work, they\u2019re doing better work and are feeling satisfied in the process for many reasons.\nFor example, the Salesforce survey found that 62% of people believe remote work empowers them to live where they want. Others are unwilling to give up the flexibility they\u2019ve secured to juggle work with other responsibilities. At the same time, more than half of those surveyed report they don\u2019t exclusively work remotely, and three-quarters say remote work is only available to a select few. Enterprises have to urgently innovate to support the new normal of WFA (work from anywhere), in which work takes place in a variety of configurations and often off site.\nMoving toward an employee-centric model\nIn the work-from-anywhere world, companies are having to become more thoughtful about the employee experience (EX). Until now, many took corporate culture for granted, not something to craft with intent. Just as enterprises design user experience and customer experience, they now have an opportunity to reshape the employee experience in a way that drives engagement, productivity and satisfaction. This starts with a mindset shift that puts employees first and involves thoughtfully deploying technology and restructuring business processes to prioritize employees\u2019 physical and mental well-being.\nHere are some concrete steps that companies can take to support their workforces today:\n\nRestructure for flexibility. Many employees already wanted greater freedom to engineer work around other commitments. Now, the need for flexibility is more urgent than ever, as employees care for dependents or oversee children doing remote learning. Employers need to rethink existing structures to make them more accommodating. For example, can some meetings be eliminated or rescheduled? Can workers have more freedom to get tasks done at times that work for them?\nRely on data. Most companies employ sophisticated methods to gauge how their customers are feeling, but few do the same for employees. Historically, the closest thing was one-off surveys on satisfaction. Companies should put in place processes and tools to track employee experience over time. This can include regular check-ins from managers, frequent mini-surveys or technology that measures sentiment in real time. Just as in user experience design, organizations can evaluate how employees are interacting with digital work environments in order to make tools more intuitive, connected and efficient. Having data in hand, and tracking it over time, can give employers a sense of how well they\u2019re doing when it comes to improving employee experience.\nEmploy technology that keeps workers safe. Workers are rightly worried about the risks of going back to the office. Workplace safety was the top concern of the global group Salesforce surveyed, with 79% saying it should be a high priority for businesses, and 72% saying technology should play a major role in this effort. This starts with the plexiglass barriers, temperature checks and sanitizing stations we\u2019re seeing today. But technology can play roles we haven\u2019t explored yet: monitoring physical distancing in real time with computer vision, guiding traffic flow through the office or using predictive analytics to TK.\nInvest in employees\u2019 mental well-being. In the survey, respondents named employee mental health as the second-most important priority for businesses, after workplace safety. While working from home, employees are spending even more time on their screens not only for their jobs, but also in their personal lives. The division between work hours and personal time has eroded further. The always-connected environment can increase workers\u2019 stress levels and reduce their ability to focus. Companies can check the pulse of employees\u2019 mental health by gathering data on how employees are feeling. Next, they can take steps to proactively center employees\u2019 well-being, perhaps by reconsidering the frequency of virtual meetings, enabling asynchronous engagement, signaling that it\u2019s OK to ignore emails outside of the workday or introducing self-care days.\nEquip workers with the tools and skills to succeed. The sudden move to an all-digital world has left many workers feeling unprepared. According to Salesforce\u2019s survey, over one-third of workers say they don\u2019t have the technology they need to be effective while working remotely, and a majority say they lack in-demand skills. Additionally, 65% say that workforce development should be a high priority for businesses and 70% say that technology should play a major role in that effort. Employees need to not only beef up on the technical skills that are critical today, but also on soft skills that are taking on new importance, such as empathy, adaptability and collaboration. Companies can deploy technology to assess workers on their current skill levels and to meet demand for helping them cultivate these capabilities remotely.\n\nThe future of work is here\nMany of the processes, tools and metrics companies use today were designed for past constructs. Yet the future of work is not only here, but also evolving in real time. This is an opportunity to design new standards for operational excellence and employee happiness, empowerment and wellness \u2014 ones that put employees front and center.\nCompanies that think proactively about their employee experiences and corporate culture will always benefit from more engaged, productive and loyal employees. In the WFA workplace, prioritizing employee experience has become an imperative. Ultimately, taking employee well-being seriously and setting them up for success can drive innovation (and morale) that sets companies up to thrive.