Who Led The Digital Transformation Of Your Business?
There is a meme going around social networks right now that asks:
Who led the digital transformation of your business?
A. The CFO
B. The CTO
Sad but true, the coronavirus has forced millions of businesses around the world to discover very fast whether they can function with staff working from home.
This is not just a temporary problem, either. No one knows how long alert levels will last, and there is potential for further disruptions to business as we continue to navigate the coronavirus crisis.
It may not be feasible to simply move all your staff back to the office within a few weeks given social distancing requirements, and some people may continue to work from home for longer, or during enforced quarantine periods.
Knowing what needs changing in the long-term
Long-term, efficient remote working will require you to look deeply into your current business processes and technology. It may require changes to what is considered ‘the new normal’ in your workplace and ways of operating.
But how do you do that?
There are three steps when it comes to future-proofing your business for efficient long-term remote working.
1. Perform a gap analysis: assess what did and didn’t work during lockdown or enforced remote working
2. Develop an adaptation plan: aim to fill any gaps you’ve identified, and address any big problems that arose.
3. Prioritise general improvements across the rest of your technology landscape: here you can start to improve the remote-working experience for clients and employees alike.
When you go through this process, you should be able to gather some common pain-points, and identify what needs to be addressed.
Here are some common problems and possible solutions that we see when adopting remote working.
Breakdown of staff and workflow efficiencies
Things you take for granted in the office become a lot harder when you are off-site.
Some work activities may not be possible at home. For example, scanning or signing documents can become difficult as not everyone has a printer at home or has an e-signature set up.
Tracking your staff’s productivity when people are off-site can also be challenging and unreliable.
A slow Wi-Fi connection, or having to access files through a VPN, will slow down access to information. Quick fix ‘workarounds’ set up before the level 4 lockdown may have got your team online … but is your team as productive as they were before?
To improve efficiencies and restore workflows you often need to find new ways of doing tasks: for example, digitising activities normally done on paper, implementing e-signatures, or finding a different tool to track employee output.
Inability to effectively communicate
If staff are used to working in the office with an internal phone system, or desks near to one another, moving to remote working can mean all these communication processes (between clients, customers and staff) break down.
Some companies get stuck using multiple communication systems. For example, they may use cell phone calls for some clients, calls to the main offline line for others, and calls to DDIs for the remainder. This is scattered and inefficient.
The worst case scenario is when clients or customers are unable to reach staff through the main office line and resort to using mobile phone calls. If a client phone call is sent to a personal mobile voicemail, the company appears less professional. Mobile phone calls also are not easily transferred between team members.
The best solution for these communication and presence issues related to remote working is a unified communications platform. A unified communication platform enables all communication between clients/customers and staff to go through a centralised platform – including voice calls, chat, conferences and screen sharing to enable integration with outlook calendar meetings and your CRM. (We made an explainer video here to show how this works)
When staff are working remotely (especially if it’s done quickly), they’re often working from their own personal devices – this is called ‘Bring Your Own Device’ or ‘BYOD’.
BYOD is inherently difficult to manage in terms of security. It’s also hard for businesses to manage their employee’s hardware due to privacy issues.
You should be asking your staff:
· Do you have professional anti-virus protection installed (and maintained) on your devices?
· Do you use a secure password?
· Will other people be using the device?
If a business expects staff to work on personal hardware to complete work tasks, a robust BYOD policy is essential to mitigate risks. This BYOD policy should cover:
· The tools or applications that employees may access on their personal devices
· The employer’s rights in respect of access to data contained on personal devices
· The security of devices (including virus checkers, firewalls, encryption, authentication programs, and virtual environments)
· Resetting home router passwords (because these are usually insecure)
· How the various risks associated with the use of personal devices are shared and mitigated.
There are still extra security concerns with using work equipment from a home Wi-Fi network, too – and remote working is always less secure than working within a more secure network as you would in the office.
Unsuitable infrastructure for remote work
A general reliance on on-site infrastructure can present significant challenges when working remotely. If this is the case for your business, you may need to change your IT infrastructure.
For example, you may have a set-up where:
· Your CRM (customer relationship management) systems are available only from in the office
· You can’t access files remotely, as all are stored on desktops and local hard drives
· You can’t service your customers remotely with your standard phone services.
There are several cloud-based storage solutions that enable easy storage in the cloud, including Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. If you’re already using Office 365 or Microsoft 365, you may actually be paying for a license that includes a suitable product!
It is key to review all the functionalities of your current subscriptions to see whether there is a viable solution in there to solve your infrastructure issues.
Internet connectivity problems
While your work IT infrastructure might be set up perfectly, if your home/remote work network is not, there will be speed and staff productivity issues. Poor network infrastructure may even mean staff are unable to access company tools and data. You may need to upgrade your staff to ultra-fast broadband.
Another issue is that using a VPN connection from home to tap into the work server (a common remote-work solution) can give you a slow experience, whether or not you have ultra-fast broadband!
If you have ultra-fast broadband installed but still suffer from slow internet speeds, you may require a signal boost, which can be achieved with an enterprise-quality wireless access point or physical cabling improvements.
Stay connected as a team
Staying connected with staff is essential. It’s important to keep touchpoints with the team when they are working remotely so they have similar experiences as in the office.
We recommend Slack and Microsoft Teams for this function.
Without these touchpoints, it’s difficult to keep projects moving forward efficiently, and productivity and employee satisfaction can lag significantly.
H2: Get the right advice
Clearly, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to optimising business infrastructure and operations for remote work. Navigating all this can be hard, and it’s important to make the right decisions around software, hardware, cyber-security, communication platforms, and cloud solutions.
Understanding what needs to be changed in your IT infrastructure, and what systems and products will work best for your business, can be time-consuming – and if you make the wrong decisions it can be a costly exercise.
If you are going to move to the cloud and set up a robust remote work plan, you’ve got some complex decisions to make. Don’t rush the process, get the right advice, and do it thoughtfully; you can implement step-by-step instead of making broad sweeping changes. It’s far better to do it right the first time than fudge the initial attempt.
Think Concepts are leaders in IT solutions, innovation and global technology trends
Think Concepts provide people-focused IT support, Cloud and Managed IT services for small to medium-sized businesses round New Zealand. With over 15 years of experience providing business IT support services we work proactively to ensure the performance, stability and security of IT systems.