Over the past few months, businesses have had to adapt to a world in lock-down. Markets were impacted, employees were forced to work from home and the usual contact between business and client was severely impacted or non-existent. As we now approach a cautious reduction in restrictions it is timely to look at what lessons can be learned from the period and in particular, carried on.
Working From Home
Many businesses and organisations had to adapt quickly to the new paradigm. Many were well prepared. A history of working from home was a great advantage and this was prevalent among IT organisations. It is often thought that the slow take up of working from home, prior to COVID, was due to a combination of factors; fears of reduced productivity, technical limitations and perhaps cost. There were some tests for Australia’s NBN and glitches with conferencing platforms and related tools were evident but overall the forced experiment has largely been a success.
Fears of productivity were mostly unfounded and people have adapted well. Businesses should now consider working from home a part of their overall employment landscape. It not only offers employees a chance to restore some work/life balance but it may also offer businesses the opportunity to reconsider their future accommodation needs like never before.
Tools and Process
If your experience is anything like ours, there is far too much corporate information in your email system. There was a time when managing mailboxes was a major headache for administrators but the ever increasing storage footprint, at a far lower cost, has made this a problem for another day.
However, during COVID we have seen an extraordinary shift away from email. Whilst it still remains an important connection to the outside world we have seen a shift internally towards messaging and related tools. This keeps corporate data centralised and is far easier to manage, and importantly more secure.
Social distancing has also seen a massive increase in the use of conferencing and webinar platforms. The unexpected positive side effect of this is the capability and confidence people have developed using these tools. As many CTOs and CIOs have been heard saying “the greatest impact to our Digitial Transformation has been COVID”. And video conferencing is an example of this.
Whilst we will see a return to face to face meetings as restrictions lift I think people will use their newly developed video conferencing skills far more than they ever did.
The Paperless Office May Now Be Here
People have been predicting the paperless office for many years. According to Wikipedia this first occurred in a Business Week article in 1975! 45 years later and it may finally come true. Working from home has certainly impacted the humbler printer and I can’t recall the last item I printed. I wonder if we’ll see this trend continue as we return the office over the coming months.
For many years we had tried and tested various collaboration platforms before settling on Microsoft Teams not long after it entered the market.
This COVID period has well and truly established Teams as a new core system in our organisation. Most of us have been conducting meetings on a daily, if not hourly, basis and it is an excellent way to share and control data within the organisation.
In addition we can also share data, and meet, with those outside the organisation. It has transformed the way our internal ‘teams’ work together and will go on supporting our organisation well after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
And with recent updates to Teams further adding to the ability to collaborate with team-mates, HSD have shifted away from previous video conferencing apps and now almost exclusively use Teams for all meetings… and let’s be honest, changing our video conferencing backgrounds is the closest we’re getting to being on a beach right now!
If your organisation isn’t using or utilising Microsoft Teams or any of the other Microsoft 365 collaboration tools to their full potential, make sure you contact us here to arrange a time to speak with our Cloud and Integration Services Practice.