The Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses to change their work practices in a variety of ways. With more people working from home, many companies took advantages of promotions for cloud computing.
- Free trials of collaboration software
- Use the enterprise version for the price of the starter pack, or
- Limited time discounts for cloud infrastructure.
Many companies took advantage of promotions thinking working from home was a short- term necessity and they would quickly return to the office and back to normal.
Investors recognized the value in changing work arrangements as they rushed to buy stock in Zoom, Citrix and other technology companies. Now almost 5 months after the “national emergency” was declared and more than 7 months since the virus was confirmed in the US, there appears to be no clear end in sight.
What will the new normal be?
Many companies are finding their employees can be just as productive, if not more productive, working remotely than working in an office in many industries. This is supported by studies in magazines like the Harvard Business Review and many others.
There are several factors contributing to improved productivity when working from home:
- Workers are starting work on time since they no longer face traffic delays commuting to the office.
- Home offices can be made comparable to an in-office work environment with available technology.
- Companies are able to enhance their customer service model by offering flex time to workers who extended support hours to what used to be commuting hours.
- Employees are thinking clearer because during the day they can take mental health breaks. This includes going for a jog or taking care of small household duties like folding laundry.
Companies are recognizing Cloud Computing is reliable and secure:
- Virtualized and redundant hardware in the cloud is typically more reliable than the server in the computer closet or controller’s office.
- Security experts supporting cloud software are better prepared to handle potential threats, have better tools, and keep on top of trends better than “the guy” at work who manages, servers, PCs and helps with application problems.
- In the cloud, computers hold disconnected sessions, and save data automatically.
- Cloud service providers test their backups and restoration procedures regularly and look for trends across customers that can be shared across their customer base.
Some change from the “old ways” is inevitable, but the “new normal” is still a work in progress. As you find your new normal learn from the experience of others and consider:
- Collaboration requires file and screen sharing, chat and availability indicators, web cameras and other tools to share work in central locations.
- Work from home is great for call center operators, insurance salesperson, consultants, bloggers and columnists and other professions filled with self-motivated individuals who often work alone or with customers.
- The more individualized the work, the easier the transition to home. It is harder to truly collaborate on complex issues with a web whiteboard than in a room with colleagues. Non-verbal communication can provide cues when facilitating a meeting, and feedback can get lost when teams are brainstorming on camera.
As you define your new normal, remember the policy does not have to be all or nothing. Some workers will need to be re-educated on what remote working means to old habits and how best to setup their home office. When returning to the office, physical distancing does not mean the end to team rooms, conference rooms or even cubicles. Anticipated trends include:
- Physical distancing, better air filtration, windows that open and other design will be incorporated into workplace planning whether in an office, warehouse or factory.
- Automation is likely to be introduced into new functions. Whether food processing on the factory floor, conveyor systems or artificial intelligence in systems opportunities will abound for the creative and ingenious.
Large enterprises have known for years that you can save costs associated with office space, utilities, phone and other expenses through remote working and the gig economy. These trends are now opportunities that can be successfully incorporated by mid-sized and smaller industries. Don’t just move your old processes to your new offices! Review your workflows, eliminate wasteful handoffs, and automate what you can!
I-Business Network has been managing cloud infrastructure since 1999, long before the cloud was even called the cloud. Over the past 20 years we have helped companies automate processes using technology as a competitive advantage. We specialize in hosting SAP and Sage business management software as the platform for implementing business transformation.