What will be needed for businesses to survive past the pandemic
It seems that the news is full of negativity at the moment. We are frequently told of the damage that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and how much the crisis has impacted the economy. Many are rightly so worried about the health of their business in the future and, although it is true that the end is in sight, the Government have warned we will be living with restrictions well into 2021.
The good news is that, in 2020, we are better prepared than ever to do business throughout the disruption caused by the pandemic. Technology has developed incredibly and the trend towards remote working which had been present for years prior has now accelerated – most of us are working from home either full-time or periodically. With the right tech, and a plan to get the most from them, you too can make a success of the ‘new normal’.
We have talked to a lot of businesses over the past 6 months and used our expertise in cloud technology as well as own experience of working from home to compile a list of five important things you will need to do to be successful in these uncertain times.
The suddenness of the UK’s first lockdown announcement in March meant that at a moments notice, workforces had to shift to work from home from the office environment they are used too. This, therefore, also meant management had to quickly ensure their staff had access to all the right tools and files to do this effectively.
Remote work has shown a lot of potential in 2020. Some organisations report satisfaction with saving on office costs, and some even report being more productive while working from home. Although COVID-19 is somewhat suppressed, it has not disappeared. As such, some staff may still feel uncomfortable at the thought of returning to the office, particularly if they are in an ‘at-risk’ category. It is crucial for managers to address the concerns of their staff and address them as closely as possible – remember, a happy workforce is a productive one and they will value your concern for their welfare.
Cloud tools such as those like Microsoft 365 have already powered organisations throughout lockdowns. They will be key to helping provide staff with the flexibility to work wherever they feel comfortable amid these unprecedented times.
As humans, we appreciate transparency in situations like a pandemic. Therefore, maintaining open communication and dialogue with employees, customers and the public is essential for companies to survive past. For instance, if an organisation endeavours to continually reassure customers they are responding appropriately to each phase of the crisis, it will be a step ahead of any competitors who do not.
Moreover, home-working throughout the pandemic can lead to staff feeling isolated, often because they are away from their colleagues as well as family and friends. Much research has chronicled the impacts of loneliness on our mental health, making it crucial for business leaders to take into consideration. We recommend the of company Intranets for posting updates such as those about remote working policies, products or services and working hours. SharePoint Online, a tool within Microsoft 365 is great for this and has already assisted in bringing businesses of all sizes together when they can’t be together physically. According to one survey, more than 200,000 organisations and 190 million people have used SharePoint for Intranets, team sites and content management.
Furthermore, we also recommend regular 1:1’s between employees and their managers. This will help to make staff still feel a part of the organisation, no matter where they may be working throughout Covid-19.
At Serval IT Systems, we took advanatge of Microsoft Teams to keep in contact with each other during the lockdown. We also implemented it for a number of our customers. The face-to-face communication of a Teams Video Conference was incredibly valuable for us and them, and still remains so.
To communicate key messages to the public, social media accounts and your website are beneficial to use. This can include ‘pinning’ a post on your Twitter account profile, regularly re-posting main messages across accounts and creating a date-stamped banner on your website to help portray hoe your response to the crisis is timely and transparent.
When it comes to updating your customers, the use of email is good for sending updates as they most likely going to be the most directly impacted. This will give them peace of mind as well as prevent them from feeling frustrated and out of the loop.
Cloud technology use in business has been gaining popularity for a number of years now. However, it is only very recently that is becoming clear just how crucial cloud tools will be for businesses wanting to survive the pandemic, and in some cases, thrive. What’s more – as many cloud tools are provided on a month-to-month basis, the right ones will never be expensive nor a huge investment.
Microsoft 365 has been a fundamental element in helping businesses survive as well as thrive throughout subsequent lockdowns and beyond. For instance, as the country went into lockdown in March, one customer of ours was concerned over how their employees were going to continue working from home when this had never been something they had done before.
As their trusted IT provider, we discussed this with them and came to suggesting Microsoft 365 so that their workforce was able to access all the same files, documents and productivity apps they have in the office but when at home. This particular customer has not only survived but thrived from implementing Microsoft 365 as productivity levels have remained high even when working in a way they aren’t used too. They are saving costly on office expenses and are even now questioning the need for an office at all.
The UK has most recently experienced a second lockdown as we headed into the Winter months. As a result, companies need to make sure they are able to adapt quickly and more efficiently should this happen again. We have a crucial opportunity now, as we navigate in a Tiered system of Covid-19, to plan for the future and apply any necessary changes.
In the future of the pandemic, you may need more hardware for your employees. Indeed, there has already been an unprecedented demand for hardware such as laptops, webcams, and headsets. We have partnerships with a number of suppliers whom we can lean on to bring you shorter supply chains and preferential pricing.
Prioritising of employee physical and mental health
A happy workforce is one that strives to create their best work for the company. This makes it vital to prioritise the mental as well as physical health of staff throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Engage with your teams. Although some will have reason to be cautious to return to the workplace fulltime, some will be desperate. Communicate closely with your employees, keeping them abreast of decisions you take as well as asking for regular feedback. Take into account the balance between physical wellbeing in the face of COVID-19, and mental health in the face of isolation.
The Government continually releases guidance on working safely during COVID-19 – these public health guidelines will help you to make informed choices surrounding the physical and mental health of employees.
Experts say even though we have a vaccine, we will be living with COVID-19 for many more months to come. We need to continue to adapt to a new way of living.
The good news is, businesses are excellent at adapting – with shocks like this not being new. We have a great opportunity to prepare now to ensure that we navigate through the rest of the pandemic safety and productively. Businesses have been through tough times before and will get through these. If you are looking for strategic advice or cloud tools to help you navigate the pandemic, do not hesitate to get in touch.