Working From Home and Collaboration, the New Working Standard (6/7)
Serie: Covid-19, what happens next? How to prepare your business in 7 steps | Episode 6 / 7
Perhaps one of the most notable consequences of forced confinement for companies has been the need to adapt to telework. This possibility already existed for some jobs and the tools were already available, but the obligation to impose this new standard on everyone quickly highlighted the significant impacts of this new way of working.
Being 3 months into isolation, it is now possible to better identify these impacts and the solutions available to mitigate them.
Impacts on Work Equipment
Since company computers are no longer connected to company networks, it is important to install an agent (small monitoring program) on all devices and this ensures that all software is up to date. Security must not be neglected in times of change.
Remote working has also increased the interest of a laptop over a desktop computer. It is easier to transport, requires less external equipment (screen, camera...) and allows users to move around according to their daily activities.
As a result, during the beginning of the crisis, several laptop manufacturers were no longer able to supply the equipment because of stock shortages, perhaps preventative purchases should be considered if the current crisis were to continue.
For telephone calls, many companies have already moved into the era of voice over IP (VOIP). This technology makes it possible to no longer be dependent on the physical location of the phone as long as it is connected to the Internet.
Impacts on User Support
The Covid-19 crisis has had a big impact on IT support. The day to day support needs and processes of all employees had to be significantly modified. Previously, an employee who had an IT problem could simply go to the IT team to ask a question or get help.
Now the support has to be done entirely remote. In general, it is not easy for a technician to understand the problem of the employee without being able to see what is happening on their screen. This is why screen sharing or remote control software is a must in order to facilitate the understanding and resolution of computer problems.
And in the event of a material problem, it is necessary to define exchange procedures by carrier, or during scheduled appointments at the office using "no-contact" procedures.
Impact on Connectivity
Many companies have centralized data within the company that isn’t normally accessible from the outside. Without these files, employees are not able to do their jobs from home. A simple solution is to allow remote connection to the corporate network via a virtual private connection (VPN). This is a simple solution and very secure, if it is mastered.
In regards to file sharing there are several tools that allow employees to collaborate on files without having to share them by email. These tools also allow you to manage document revisions while having people working simultaneously on the same file in a secure environment. Work habits change a little but collaboration and management are improved.
The last important impact is the disappearance of face-to-face meetings. With the current situation, remote meeting tools have become a must. The success of virtual meeting software has meant companies have had to increase their IT capacity to meet the demand!
Warning: additional equipment is required such as a camera and/or headsets with a microphone (as well as a quiet environment with no risk of unexpected screen appearances, but that's a story that parents of young children already know).
Apart from these immediate IT needs, the search for collaboration generated by teleworking can also lead companies to embark on adigital transformation. Particularly by investing in solutions that include collaborative processes within the application.
Some Benefits of Digital Transformation
With the objective of integrating business processes such as finance, supply chain, commerce (point of sales or e-commerce) or human resources into a single information system, an ERP is the superior option in terms of collaborative applications. The implementation within a company will structure, harmonize, and streamline practices and communications. An action is no longer isolated in a silo system but immediately impacts the related business processes.
The implementation of ERP in addition to facilitating internal and external exchanges, will present the benefits of optimizing your company's productivity and help your company make decisions based on data.
Business Intelligence Solutions
In terms of collaboration, one pitfall that companies often encounter is the sharing of reliable data. While integrated management software allows the centralization of information and will help in this direction, there are alternative solutions with business intelligence applications that allow us to visualize the health of the company through various key indicators.
The collaboration is then ensured by:
- A common repository on which business analyses are built, which may be domain-specific or more cross-disciplinary;
- All of these reports are available, with data that can be refreshed in real time, to accurately monitor what is happening in the company at any given moment.
When everyone shares the same information it is then much easier to agree on an action plan to improve business performance.
Still with a view to maximizing employee collaboration, one can imagine using a single platform during a planning process.
Such collaborative solutions exist already, and it's not science fiction! In fact, there are applications on the market that offer extensive functionalities to promote collaboration: discussion panels, task assignment and comments, which allow for the coordinated involvement of all the players who hold a critical part of the information when establishing a budget.
Having said that, the interest of a modern planning solution is not only about the application itself, but also about the way it is connected and deployed. In short, a cloud solution would bring more flexibility and agility.
Shining a Light on Cloud-Based Solutions
The final area to consider for efficiency gains with a focus on collaboration is the use of cloud-based solutions, based on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.
Why? Simply because in a world that demands agility and responsiveness, these solutions offer many significant advantages:
- Fast deployment, no client installation, web access, available via a simple URL;
- No upgrade management or maintenance;
- Native security and guaranteed data access;
- Simpler processes because they are less customizable (all clients use the same version of the application with the exception of a few customizations);
- A more modern and intuitive user interface, therefore a gain in autonomy for the employee, which is all the more appreciable when you are teleworking.
Thanks to this modern and inexpensive technology, cloud computing solutions have become widespread, in all areas of business. Why not take advantage of a solution where everyone has access from anywhere. It guarantees team collaboration and can make all the difference for your business today.
These solutions already exist but the current crisis has made them necessary. It is therefore important to evaluate them as soon as possible and to study the associated impacts (security, managing change, process modification, etc.).
If you adopt these new solutions, your company will not only be more efficient in times of crisis, but will be more resilient for future crises and will better adapted to the new realities of the working world.
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