The world has changed immeasurably in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic caught us all by surprise. No government, business, or individual was truly prepared for the disruption we have experienced.
This “new normal” remains a work in progress for many, especially as parts of the economy are having to re-open again amid a strict tier system. Fortunately, technology significantly softened the blow for all of us – and will be the key to successfully navigating through the pandemic and thriving beyond.
Pandemic or not, technology has been growing increasingly influential in all of our lives. Now, with millions around the world still working from home to help prevent the spread of te virus, technology will be there to support companies and the expansion of remote working long in 2021. Many forecasters already predicted a cultural shift to an expanded remote workforce, but COVID-19 accelerated that trend and early signs indicate that many might never go back to their offices.
So, whether it be video conferencing instead of face-to-face meetings, or mobiles over desk phones, technology is continuing to help us through the pandemic. Read on to find out more.
The remote workspace
Global lockdowns meant that at a moment’s notice, business was to transition to our homes from the office. Although some found it easy to slip neatly into the ‘new normal’, others found it a challenge. Many companies are still reliant on on-site servers, whereby staff workspaces are tied to the PC’s in the office. This makes the move to working from home a struggle as finding a way for staff to access all the same documents, files and applications was pretty much impossible.
Fortunately, cloud services such as Hosted Workspaces have been there to make things a little easier.
A Hosted Workspace describes a complete Windows desktop environment which is delivered via the internet from a secure datacentre. All files live securely encapsulated within the desktop and they can be accessed by users from anywhere in the world. Organisations who had a solution like this for their staff saved on the one-off expensive cots of hardware and allowed staff to instantly shift to working from home without fuss.
Throughout the pandemic, communication has been key. It helps keep employees working effectively even when they can’t be with one another physically, and for those whose job role relies on talking with clients on the phone, is the only way they can carry out their roles.
Luckily, the smartphone devices with 3G and 4G capabilities we have access to today, combined with Internet-based phone systems such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), have meant lines of communication could stay open. This is because a VoIP telephony package includes a softphone software/app which is either desktop-based or installed on your Android or iOS smartphone. Once installed, users can work comfortably from home in no time at all as calls from their desk phone will be received as normal to their mobile or PC. Furthermore, users can also dial out on their office number using the softphone solution which will, in turn, reduce confusion and help companies maintain forward-facing appearance to customers.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud applications were gaining popularity. The pandemic accelerated this trend tremendously and now cloud applications are almost essential if you want to survive past the pandemic. From virtual planners to collaboration in real-time, they have meant staff were able to work productively from anywhere and offered significant cost savings.
For those that have had to remain open and cannot have their employees working from home, cloud applications have helped keep staff and customers safe. For example, digital cloud applications in places such as Banks have meant visitors can sign up for appointments to helo control the number and flow of people in branches. For those that didn’t feel comfortable coming into the branches, video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams allowed clients to engage face-to-face with advisors without having to be there physically.
Similarly, for pubs and restaurants, digital cloud applications have formed a way for groups to easily book slots and order food and/or drinks. As a result, the number of people inside at one point is limited and interaction between staff and customer is reduced to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 if someone were to have it.
As we move through the pandemic, cloud applications are playing a crucial role in ensuring government guidelines are following and helping people feel comfortable with going out again. Without application hosting to make your application cloud-ready, managing and supporting an application for these processes will costs time, resources and money. Application hosting with Serval IT Systems moves your entire software application to the cloud so that users can access your application anywhere, at any time, on whatever device they choose. What’s more – hosting is typically paid for on a per-user, per-month basis, so that is predictable and saves you money.
Security as usual
The way we are having to work and live our lives is certainly different, but what isn’t new, is the risk of cybercrime. “While lockdown has helped reduce the spread of the coronavirus, it is also helping fuel a rise in cybercrime” said an article from Cambridge University on the rise of cyber-crime in lockdown. “We are vulnerable to such risks, because we are spending much more time online as we work, or school our children, from home. And it is partly happening because many internet users, including adolescents and young adults, are currently confined to home with no school or work for much of the day. The increased boredom they feel may well be a key driver of online petty crime.”
Thankfully, these days, there is a host of security solutions you can implement which have been built to keep organisations protected from cybercrime before, during and after the pandemic – some even cost less than you might think! For instance, multi-factor authentication (MFA) helps keep accounts protected by adding an extra layer to accounts to make sure the person accessing it is who they say they are. It works by requiring a combination of something you know (e.g a password), have (e.g your mobile phone) and are (e.g your fingerprint).
The next new ‘normal’
The business environment has seen a shift in the way people are working like never before. This unanticipated progression in digital transformation is no doubt here to stay. Experts suggest that the trends we have seen in 2020 will remain far past the pandemic. Technology will continue to play a profound role in this by providing ways for workforces to securely work and communicate no matter where they choose to work, as well as ways for companies that rely on human interaction, to do so in a safe manner, both in terms of cyber security and safety from the virus.
When lockdown was put in place in March, everything in a business that could move online, did. However, if you are still struggling, like some of the businesses we have spoken to, please do get in touch. Serval IT Systems have over a decade of experience in providing the latest technology solutions to businesses, all of which have been found to be of particular help while in a global pandemic! This will continue to be the case in the next new ‘normal’.
Please get in touch for more information.