What is Normal Anyway?

Uncertain Times

In these challenging and uncertain times, it is more important than ever for SME’s and Enterprise to continue to operate effectively. Not only for the obvious economic implications, but to support those employees who work tirelessly helping organisations achieve their goals and objectives. In doing so, companies have a responsibility to their employees to ensure they have a sense of belonging in addition to their financial security and overall well-being – both mental and physical.

A new era has begun?

How will companies operate for the remainder 2020 and beyond? The “traditional” operating principles for many businesses will have been changed irrevocably; completely disrupted due to the restrictions brought about by COVID-19. The impact of which will have resonated across all areas of business, from Marketing to Manufacturing, Sales to Supply Chain, Customer Service to Finance and beyond.

A re-think is now needed and, just like the SMEs and large multi-nationals around the world, we (as businesses and as a society) have had to adopt technology to stay connected – this is our “new normal.”

The instruction from Governments around the world was clear (at least at the outset) – “Stay at Home.” Adhering to strict social distancing measures would mean the spread of the virus would be limited. So, unless you were a key worker, or Furloughed, you had no choice but to work from home. 

The psychological paradigm shift was palpable and, with the implementation of lock-down, an underlying sense that civil liberties could be infringed was in the social ether – these were draconian measures the likes of which had not been seen since the War. However, for the most part, there existed a realisation that these measures were warranted and indeed necessary. But what about business?

Should we go back to normal?

For most in the Technology Industry, there has been an expectation that the video & cloud conferencing/ collaboration will be the “new norm” in a matter of years – four, in fact.

A 2019 study conducted by Gartner concluded:

  • By 2022, 40% of all formal meetings would be facilitated virtually.
  • By 2024, remote work and changing workforce demographics will have such an impact that only 25% of meetings will take place in person – down from 60% today (pre-coronavirus).

So with this insight already in the public domain, how well did companies adapt to this new way of working? For the most part, it could be argued that there is “room for improvement,” while other companies embraced this ethos long before the pandemic, others struggled to get infrastructure in place to move into this remote working mindset.

So what were the key issues and considerations faced by Facilities and IT leaders in dealing with the lock-down and the need for workers to be productive from home? 

  • Availability of hardware? Quite possibly.
  • Fear that current available solutions were not “up to the task?” Most likely.
  • Network Security and data protection? Most definitely.

In order for businesses to be successful there is a need to be responsive. Now is the time to be fully aware of the benefits, opportunities and solutions available to increase engagement, ramp up productivity and reduce costs associated with travel. The transfer of information will be instance, interactive and meaningful.

The sky really is the limit with virtual conferences and town hall meetings, to interactive rooms and augmented reality – technology is now at the forefront of how we communicate. Add to that the most advanced security and software solutions available and the lines between home or remote working and the office are not only blurred, but barely visible!

Why would we want to go back to the way things used to be? Let’s embrace the age of communication to create meaningful and real engagement.