How firms meet the changing expectations of their employees will be key to how they recover in the coming weeks and months. It’s clear that, even if businesses feel able to open up offices again, there will be serious restrictions on who will be able to come into them at any one time.
Even if companies themselves have the right measures in place, many workers may still be wary about dealing with issues such as commuting and will be keen to remain at home. Therefore, they will expect their employers to recognise these concerns and provide the right tools to enable effective remote working for the long term.
So what steps should firms be taking to meet these expectations and ensure they can get their company up and running at full capacity, even when staff are still apart? Here are three key IT steps to assist with this.
1. An integrated communications solution
A complete communications system that covers all channels and allows people to seamlessly switch from one platform to another will be essential in keeping businesses working smoothly and without disruption, and this applies both to internal connectivity and communications with customers.
While video conferencing may take the place of weekly or daily face-to-face catch-ups, this needs to be complemented with effective instant messaging tools, phone systems and direct integration with third-party business applications such as CRM systems, which ensures everyone is always on the same page, no matter where they are physically located.
2. Improved agility
Flexibility will be a key trend in the coming months, with it being likely that many people will vary the days they come into the office in order to maintain social distancing and avoid crowded public transport. Therefore, it’s vital employees have the tools they need to maintain their productivity.
Applications that can be accessed easily from multiple devices with no loss of features or usability will be essential for this. Cloud-based tools provide the agility needed to keep up with the latest info from multiple locations. At the same time, robust phone systems that make it easy to redirect calls and get through to the right person with one number, whether they are at home or in the office, ensure employees remain in touch.
3. A robust IT infrastructure
If remote working continues to be the norm long-term, it’s vital that a firm’s connectivity infrastructure is able to support this. For instance, one area that more companies may have to look at will be providing support for remote workers’ broadband connections.
The limitations of many older networks may have been emphasised during lockdown, especially older ADSL and FTTC tools that still rely on copper and share connections between multiple users. Supporting the use of more up-to-date full fibre technology not only improves the speeds the users can enjoy for uploading and downloading files, but ensures greater reliability and no dips in performance at peak times.
Where this isn’t possible, supporting mobile tools such as 4G – and increasingly 5G – as an alternative will also be useful.