As we enter lockdown 3.0 it is easy to understand why business owners are re-thinking their IT strategies to negotiate the pandemic, with many embracing a new way of working to the benefit of their workers and their businesses. How are businesses adapting to work smarter in the new normal?
Written by: Edward Henty: Account Manager, Sweethaven Computers Ltd
The Future of Work is Now
Twelve months ago, I was sat in a board room in Riyadh presenting a strategy to help secure government funding for a Future Work Company, whose mission was to expedite the transformation of the Saudi economy in preparation for the future of work.
This strategy focused on a local solution to a global trend, characterised by the growing prevalence of workers in the gig, digital and knowledge-based economies, increasing the flexibility and informality of traditional work-based arrangements. The catalysts, so we thought, were technological, environmental and demographic changes, shifting the landscape of global labour markets and bringing about the future of work (robotics, climate change, evolving consumer behaviours, increased life expectancy and social mobility … to name just a few).
One thing which was not factored in, was a global pandemic. The impact that COVID-19 has had on global economies, governments, businesses, educational institutions and individuals, has been described as a time machine into the future, with the rate of change anticipated to take place over decades instead taking place in the span of weeks. We have all been forced to act, to adapt and to make changes to comply with government legislation, to protect our health and the health of those in our communities, in particular the vulnerable, while at the same time continuing to work to protect our economy, our businesses and our employees.
Self-isolating, shielding, furlough and numerous lockdowns have all presented new and unique challenges to businesses as we have navigated the myriad of government announcements, daily news briefings, actual or perceived risks to our health and reduced income for many sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.
The enablement of workers through technology has been critical for many businesses and educational institutions to continue trading and teaching during this period, with remote working and digitally-delivered learning necessitated at a scale we have never experienced before. The demand for and use of IT solutions has soared, including digital platforms, video conferencing software, laptops and VOIP telephony, enabling workers to embrace a new way of working.
Teachers videoing their assemblies and countless Zoom, Teams and Meet sessions to a back-drop of barking dogs, crying babies and questionable background filters have become the new normal, as business premises and classrooms have become fallow and vacant.
Is this the New Normal?
When the dust starts to settle and the vaccine hopefully takes effect, we will be able to go back to some level of normality, however we will be left to ponder a number of questions as to what normal will look like for us in a post-COVID-19 world:
- Should we return to the 09:00-17:00, reoccupy our office spaces, dispose of our video conferencing kit and resume business as usual?
- Are we more productive when operating flexible working arrangements?
- Should we operate remote working or hybrid working policies?
- Do we still need the overheads associated with a physical workspace?
- Do we need physical IT infrastructure at our work premises or should we consider co-location or migrating to the Cloud?
- How can we ensure team members are coping with current stresses while working remotely (both from a global context and the subsequent impact on workloads) and not nearing burnout?
- Going forward, how can employee communication be aided by technology?
- How do we maintain cyber security with the dispersal of employees away from the office?
With almost half (44%) of UK full-time workers planning to work a full five-day working-week from home once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and 55% planning a more hybrid role with one to four days in the office, employers are considering the longer-term implications to their businesses and IT strategies.
Accelerated use of cloud computing resources among enterprises and small and medium sized businesses has coincided with a reduction in demand for office space and increased hardware deployment for remote working environments during the pandemic. Here are some of the reasons why people are choosing the Cloud:
- Efficiency and cost reduction – no need to purchase and maintain equipment, dramatically reducing capital expenditure and reducing the risk of downtime.
- Data Security – advanced security features are offered by Cloud, guaranteeing the safe storage and handling of data.
- Scalability – business demands have fluctuated over the last twelve months and Cloud provides the agility to enable a business to scale their IT department up or down quickly and efficiently.
- Mobility – now so more than ever we need to access our corporate data remotely. Resources can be stored, retrieved, recovered or processed with just a couple of clicks using Cloud-based systems.
- Disaster Recovery – quick data recovery for all kinds of emergency scenarios and loss prevention measures through Cloud infrastructure.
- Control – complete visibility and control over data and access permissions and the ability to collaborate on live, shared documents.
Whether it’s COVID-19 or lockdown 3.0 that is bringing your IT strategy into focus, or any of the reasons above, it is important to be fully informed before restructuring the technology that enables your business. Every business has unique circumstances and aspirations and an IT solution that is fit for purpose should be tailored accordingly.
If any of the above resonates with you or your business, or if you have any other queries of an IT nature, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to book a free Network Overview today.
About Sweethaven Computers Ltd
Sweethaven have been trading for 43 years and have evolved to specialise is Managed IT Support Services for businesses and education, supporting an expansive network of businesses, schools and charities nationally.
We work in partnership through consultation with clients to analyse existing and preferred ways of working, to define tailored IT solutions that optimise crucial business processes to ensure optimum efficiency, agility and competitiveness.
Read more here: Sweethaven Business Services | Award Winning Managed IT Services