For all the stress the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on industries and workers, the public health crisis has also created the impetus for rapidly changing the business landscape to embody a remote work culture.
The innovative practices and technology that businesses are implementing to maintain the connection between employees, employers, and customers are not only stopgap solutions for the current situation, but they also have the potential to be used long-term. However, if the strategic shift to more remote interactions becomes permanent, Canadian companies will be just as reliant on IT assistance to help manage and safeguard their various communications platforms.
As COVID-19 emerged, companies across the globe were forced to quickly develop plans to adapt not only to the public health crisis but also the new public policy that set guidelines and restrictions for how they could and could not operate.
In a CIO Dive article, business executives from five different companies shared strategies they employed to facilitate the shift to remote work while preserving their company culture along the way. For some firms, employees were already set up to accomplish their core functions remotely. What’s now lacking are the regular interactions that happen between employees. To fill the gap, companies are relying on collaboration and communication tools such as Zoom and Slack.
TIBCO, an integration, analytics, and event processing software company, had already implemented Slack companywide in June of last year. Still, the technology became more important as part of the company’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that went into effect in March. As for Zoom and the security concerns that surfaced regarding the technology, TIBCO CIO Sharon Mandell told CIO Dive, “there were issues there, and they needed to be taken care of,” but that’s to be expected when a platform’s use increases dramatically. Ultimately, it’s about striking a balance and responding with careful monitoring, she said, adding, “If you go to a zero-risk model, you’re not going to get anything done.”
As they transitioned to a remote work environment, companies also started adding additional VPN licenses and allowing employees to take laptops, monitors, and other equipment they needed for their temporary home office. Some of the issues that have required continuous attention include dealing with network connectivity problems for employees who live in cities or at homes with low bandwidth, as well as maintaining consistent security protocols.
TIBCO COO Matt Quinn told CIO Dive that following the shutdown, “I don’t think the office ever becomes as important as it was in the past.”
Certain workplace mainstays—such as collaborating in person, whiteboarding, and other social benefits—are missed, and some employees will want to return to on-site offices. Others are happy with remote work and will want to continue doing so in the future, forgoing lengthy commutes in the process.
Companies and employees likely will be more selective about when they need to meet and collaborate in person, or when an email or communicating via Google, Microsoft, or Zoom apps could suffice. E-commerce, telemedicine, online education, and other digital alternatives also will be staples of the new normal.
According to Entrepreneur, several mental health startups, such as Braive and Moment Pebble, can “double down on solving the problem of isolation while business networking apps such as Ripple can help solve the mentoring and development challenges that come with being a remote worker.”
As for how remote work impacts company culture, employees can still build relationships when conversing over digital platforms. For example, during the pandemic, employees at Altair have been grabbing coffee for 15 minutes on video—the same as they would at the office, CIO Andrea Siudara said.
Businesses across industries have accelerated the digital aspect of their operations in response to COVID-19. With many of the emerging trends likely to continue for the foreseeable future, reliable IT management services are crucial. Fuelled Networks can provide your Ottawa company with the right services to augment your IT infrastructure, boost network and cybersecurity, and improve secure wireless networking whether your employees are working in or out of the office.