Right now it feels like we are at a tipping point in the UK, with the Government slowly easing restrictions and businesses starting to think about returning to work and planning for the ‘new normal’ – but what will this even look like?
DCR spoke to six IT and technology experts for their expectations and advice for how businesses can best prepare for work post-pandemic.
Strategic vision and IT strategy
While it's only the start of easing lockdown here in the UK, it's important for business leaders to look ahead and start considering the systems and processes that they will be implementing to support the return to normality – or at least the new version of it.
Jeremy Atkins, UKI sales director, Enterprise & Public Sector at Commvault says, “Right now, IT leaders should be thinking about how to deliver the right service, securely and efficiently, as long as the lockdown endures. Not only this, but they should be thinking about how this situation has affected their long-term IT strategy, and how much they need to change it so it best aligns with the new normal.
“It is vitally important at this time for businesses to think about what they currently have on their IT agenda, and assess whether some projects can be put on hold. Now is the time to focus on what needs to be done in order to secure and enable the business, then build the new programme that will make life easier and more flexible in the future.”
Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise says, "We have moved into a very different 'normal' where remote working has become the standard, and this is likely to continue in some form even once the pandemic is over. For many businesses that are able to support employees working remotely, it is likely that this will become the new norm, rather than employees mainly being office-based.
"This will be more challenging for some businesses and industries than others, but it will become clear as this pandemic continues which businesses have been able to manage the change well enough for it to become more permanent. Even still, there will be increased challenges for IT departments to support employees using IT equipment or accessing secure systems outside of the office.
“A data management solution is one method for improving the ability for employees to work efficiently from home, as it can help to keep all of the data stored by a business in order, and can help employees to retrieve this data more quickly, saving them time that can be better spent on tasks which require their expertise."
Human to human interaction
For a number of experts, people will return to being the heart of the business as we are reminded of the importance of empathy and connectedness. Liam Butler, area vice president at SumTotal says, “When planning for the near future, businesses should be thinking about operating in a new normal – and while this is largely a positive change, it will be a very different environment to the one we are all familiar with.
“Businesses will be engaging with customers, employees and other businesses in very different ways, placing more emphasis on genuine human connection in the absence of physical travel and in-person engagement.
“People buy from people – that will always be true – and the key element is trust. The question for every business now is how do we foster that trust and community spirit – between colleagues, managers, customers and suppliers – in a more dispersed, digital and fundamentally different world.”
Harnessing the power of technology
Many businesses had to act quickly implementing new technologies at the start of lockdown to ensure their business stays afloat and that workers could continue to work effectively and securely remotely.
Martin Taylor, deputy CEO at Content Guru explains, "The shock of how suddenly the current crisis took hold and how dramatically the situation snowballed put every organisation under unequivocal and significant strain.
“While actions taken now are likely being rushed as a matter of urgency, for those businesses that were still relying on legacy on-premises infrastructure, and particularly those that have been sitting on the fence for some time, Coronavirus could well act as the catalyst needed for change in the long-term too.
“For the contact centre industry, which employs more than 4% of the UK’s working population, the last few months could prove to be a huge catalyst towards increased remote working and adoption of cloud technologies.
“I expect we will see most contact centres looking at how they can adopt a cloud-first approach which allows agents to work from wherever they are based, so they can future proof their business model against situations like this in the future.”
For Tom Cotton, agile workspace technical director at Six Degrees, cloud computing has been the liberator for many organisations during this time of uncertainty and unprecedented pressure.
“The coronavirus pandemic has prompted an acceleration in many organisations’ cloud transformation efforts, as they have focused on the logistics involved in ensuring people and departments can carry on functioning with minimal disruption to their clients.
“Now that we’re adapting to this new reality and planning for life in a post-pandemic world, we have a chance to make longer term considerations around our cloud and agile working strategies. I believe we will see an exponential increase in the uptake of cloud services over the coming months. This will be driven by a number of factors, not least users becoming accustomed to the lack of commuting and seeing more of their family. Many will not want to transition back to their old ways of working any time soon.”
Bob Davis, CMO at Plutora concludes, "Covid-19 has changed our lives and created problems unlike we’ve ever faced. To solve these problems not only during the lockdown, but as businesses start to come out the other side of it, they’ll have to harness the full strength and power of technology. But they can’t if businesses are hobbled by the major pain points brought on by the ‘new normal’ of remote workforces; particularly for software development teams.”
"As we learn to get back to work, it's crucial that businesses relying on software development start to implement measures now, to ensure a smooth transition to the 'new normal' of the future."