Current events are changing the world. Communication and collaboration via digital means has become critical for business continuity. Decisions need to be made to adapt and maximize the potential for success.
In the current global climate, there is an urgent need to accelerate the digital workplace – it is essential that businesses adapt to the new working norm. And that doesn’t just mean having the tools and systems in place to enable productivity. We also need to consider the employee experience; how do you keep the workforce engaged? How do you keep teams connected? How do you maintain a positive company culture at a distance? These are the questions business leaders everywhere should be asking themselves.
Last week, I spoke with Bill Haskins, Senior Analyst and Partner at Wainhouse Research, to get his insights into industry trends and strategies organizations can take to address the challenges of the rapidly changing workplace. I wanted to share some of the key takeaways from that discussion.
UCC is under vastly increased demand
Unified communication and collaboration (UCC) environments are being stretched to the limit. No one anticipated that the enterprise world would all be working remotely more or less overnight, leveraging voice, video and collaboration tools for business continuity. And it’s not just the workforce, millions of people at home in isolation are leveraging these same networks for gaming, streaming, downloading. Universities, schools and colleges have all gone virtual. The strain on healthcare services and call centres has dramatically increased. Providers have reported they are currently seeing 24 times the usual network volume during at peak times!
Remarkable agility has been shown across the sector with reprioritizing and accelerating projects, both internally and with customers, to maintain operations.
It’s been amazing to witness how many are coming together to innovate and solve problems; service providers and network providers working together to build out capacity, platforms offering free collaboration services, and organizations sharing information so that everyone can keep the lines of connection open.
Consider the human factor of remote working
Roles that were never intended to be remote are now online. Individuals have been forced to change how they communicate and collaborate. Work/life balances have seen significant shift.
Organizations need to be aware of and manage the change. Adjustments need to be made to processes, behaviours, performance management and KPIs to ensure productivity and efficiency in the digital workplace.
Successful remote working is not just about the technical challenges – it’s about facilitating a change in habits, educating users on how to use tools correctly and providing efficient support.
This crisis will lead to a fundamental shift in the way we work, now and into the future, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the long-term this shift will see digital skills improve across generations, it will force workflows to be optimized, and it will breed innovation.
Valuable things IT teams can do right now to better manage and optimize UCC
Communicate – this is absolutely critical. In times of uncertainty, effective communication goes a long way to managing expectations and avoiding the spread of misinformation. Communicate often, set up regular check-ins with key contributors, provide timely and relevant information all stakeholders and find innovative ways to provide updates in the absence of face to face meetings.
Get proactive – with teams stretched thin it can be difficult to stay on top, particularly as communications and contact centre environments seem to be continually evolving. Having automated monitoring and alerting in place can free up resources-limited teams by detecting and flagging issues to be addressed before they become widespread and impact users.
Tool up – equip you team with the right tools and training to help them manage your environment. Specialist tools that can help your teams quickly troubleshoot and resolve problems in real-time will prove invaluable. IT operational efficiency is critical to keeping your employees connected.
Leverage the data – intelligent decision making is key right now. Look at your real-time and historical data to tell a story and gain insight into your environment. Establish your “normal” and determine what is changing to understand where you need to focus your efforts.
Leadership has never been more important
Like all of us, I didn’t anticipate that we would be battling a workplace shift of such scale. But employees and customer are looking to their leaders for direction and reassurance.
I have relied on a few guiding principles to give myself and IR’s Executive team focus when planning our response to these uncertain times:
1. Understand your position of strength
Know yourself and your organization. Believe in what makes your unique and know how to confidently communicate how you add real value.
2. Be adaptable and agile
Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.” This is true, both in biology and business. Focus on how you can shift priorities and identify opportunity in challenge.
3. Have resilience
It keeps being said, but this crisis is truly unprecedented. Acknowledge that it isn’t going to be easy and keep rising to challenges of hardship.
4. Have empathy
Everyone is feeling these challenges in different ways, but remember that we are all navigating these uncharted water together. Listen to your employees, recognize their concerns and be genuine in your response, even if you don’t have the answers.
As the modern world continues to change in response to this crisis, I anticipate the challenges we face will also evolve. Increasingly, people and organizations will be leaning on UCC resources to stay connected and it’s important that we have the right tools, resources and strategies in place to maintain those connections with colleagues, customers and the wider community.
For further insights from John Ruthven and Bill Haskins on keeping the modern workforce connected, watch the full webinar on demand.