COVID-19 has flipped our daily lives upside down over the past few months with government ordered social distancing including restrictions on seeing loved ones, to schools, restaurants, parks and stores shutting down. These orders have prevented us from celebrating holidays and important milestones events such as graduations, birthdays, and sadly enough, even funerals.
In these unprecedented times, you are fortunate if you can work from the safety of your home to support your family. And the reality is, these people face their own set of challenges – finding a quiet place to conduct an important business meeting, or finding the balance between staying productive at work while helping their children navigate online learning for the first, or caring for a sick family member…the list goes on.
Building a foundation for the future.
Whether your company’s work from home experience has been a great success, utter failure, or somewhere in between, we can all agree that COVID-19 has demonstrated just how important modern technology is to every business.
It’s important to reflect on both the good and the bad, the could-haves and should-haves during this crisis to learn and grow from it.
As a business executive you should ask yourself the following questions, and seek feedback from your employees and your customers about what more you could have done to make this transition better for everyone. This is the best way to make improvements moving forward.
Looking back on those first few days of the COVID-19 shuffle, your head was probably spinning, as you pulled as many resources together to get your staff equipped to work from home. You may have made certain decisions that you otherwise would not have done if you weren’t in crisis mode, such as putting a VPN connection onto a personal laptop, but the reality is, you had to determine whether it was worth it to assume that risk to keep your business afloat.
- How painless was it for your employees to transition operations from the office to their homes?
- Can your internal IT or outsourced IT provider support the shift to a remote work environment without disruption?
- Do your staff have work laptops or were you forced to rely on personal, home machines?
- Do you have a secure connection to access critical applications and files needed to continue to work as usual?
- Are your phone systems working from home or did your staff have to wait for a voicemail to return a call from their personal cell phones?
- Do you have collaboration tools with video capability in place for both internal meetings and client meetings and other external use?
Once the initial rush to getting your remote workforce setup, business executives and IT decision makers should immediately assess your IT environment and tools in place to determine their effectiveness and address any areas of concern from either a security or productivity standpoint.
- Have you been able to effectively communication with clients, partners and vendors?
- Are there any bottlenecks causing productivity issues for your staff?
- Do you have any work from home security risks associated with any of your users?
- How would you rate the support from your IT provider?
- Do you have someone available to go on site when a serious IT issue occurs?
- Are you adhering to compliance requirements during COVID-19?
- Are their collaboration tools that are better suited for our business?
Envisioning the Future
Now that we are starting to see restrictions loosen and businesses are starting to allow employees return to the office in limited capacity it’s time to start thinking long-term. Business projects that you had lined up for 2020 might get put on the back-burner for COVID-19 driven projects to ensure your business is equipped with modern technology and ready to mobilize your workforce on the drop of a dime.
Is your business prepared in the event of a second and third wave of COVID-19?
It’s easy to focus on the negative during a world crisis, but with adversity comes opportunity.
There are several businesses that have responded to the pandemic without a hitch. Manufactures reshuffling production lines to offer high demand products like hand sanitizer and face masks, or gyms offering online classes and doctor practicing tele-medicine.
Every business must start thinking like this and prepare to be as agile as possible, because the future is uncertain, and we need to be able to shift to the next normal when the time comes.
Double Down on Communication and Collaboration.
People are becoming much more comfortable having important business meetings over video instead of face to face. Companies that become competent in these areas will have a strategic advantage over competition. Not to mention, our society has gotten a taste of what working from home is like and top talent will demand this as an option moving forward. Learn how you can empower your employees with Microsoft 365 collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.
Embrace the Cloud Whenever Possible.
Moving your business to the cloud is probably the most important thing you can do to future-proof your business. Most cloud services like Microsoft 365 create agility for your business, and builds operation resilience, while creating efficiencies and allows you to scale up and down without delay which provides a much more sustainable and desirable experience for your users.
At ANP, we had a work from home plan in place and tested. We have fully integrated Microsoft 365 into our business and we’re leveraging Teams for collaboration. We’ve migrated our file server to SharePoint for easy, online access, and we have a VPN set up to securely access our network and legacy line-of-business applications that are not yet in the cloud. Our VoIP phone systems are fully operational from home and integrated with Teams so that everyone is available to us in one central location.