COVID-19 Update: The Growth of the Digital Workplace

A recent article by CDO trends shared that “COVID-19 has changed organizations. Nearly two-thirds of IT and business leaders said so in a research paper by Global Data, commissioned by Telstra.” Organisations have been forced to rapidly change the ways that they service customers and how members of staff perform their daily tasks, resulting in the growth of the digital workplace.

At the start of 2020, in many companies, employees and management were still working primarily in an office environment, from 9-5, 5 days a week. While some forward-thinking, global businesses might have embraced more flexibility, for others the digital workplace extended only as far as email, an intranet and cloud storage.

The worldwide pandemic meant that for business continuity purposes many organisations had to rapidly upgrade their digital workplace. In order to survive the sudden lockdown, companies had to embrace agile working and immerse themselves in the software and apps essential to this activity.

In some cases it became crucial to further exploit software already in use. Microsoft 365 offers simple solutions such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, during COVID-19 businesses have expanded their use in order to allow staff working remotely to use solutions like Microsoft SharePoint for easy access to content, data and documents.

Furthermore, face-to-face meetings have been a vital part of working life for decades, whereas now they have been replaced with online chat, calls and meetings through cost-effective solutions Microsoft Teams.

Security is always a top business priority and alongside this there has been a need for urgent training and education on these digital tools – when employees completely understand the technology, they can fully utilise it.

If you are running a customer-facing business, contactless registration is now a must. A solution such as the Vantage 365 Imaging Connector generates bar codes within Power Apps and Power Automate to streamline registrations, ticketing, sign-in, document classification and data processing.

In addition, as well as meeting organisational needs, the software must work well for team members – for example, it needs to be inclusive, so it has to work for all types of users. Microsoft Teams recently added closed captioning to meetings – adding this feature creates inclusiveness of the entire employee population so no one is left out.

As well as facilitating business continuity and enabling staff to keep working, additional benefits of a digital workplace might be:

  • Increased productivity – people can achieve more in a shorter period of time
  • Improved collaboration – employees can work together effectively, sharing ideas and creating solutions
  • Better communication – with customers, contacts, management and other team members
  • Saving time – not just in terms of working more efficiently, but in respect of fewer journeys to and from the office and/or meetings
  • Saving money – all of the above means that your workforce are working smarter, faster and more effectively. Moreover, should you decide to downscale your physical office space, that will provide additional cost savings.

As we look towards September and a return to the “new normal”, what should organisations be looking for in the next stage of their digital workplace evolution?

Do your solutions provide the following:

  • Reliability. Lockdown has been stressful. Parents have been combining work with home-schooling. Children have been caring for vulnerable parents. People may have been coping with having too many family members around them all the time, or instead having no-one at all to talk to. Therefore, when a person does get the opportunity to sit down and work, their IT tools need to help them be able to work and communicate immediately, effectively and efficiently.
  • Security. Your IT solutions should not cause you any worries. You need to be able to trust that your conversations and content are secure, and that every tool meets any new regulations or restrictions imposed by the government.
  • Flexibility. We still do not know how (if or when) the pandemic will end. Organisations will continue to change; customer service needs will alter and the requirements made of staff will vary. Your technology solutions must be able to continue to flex and grow with your business.

If you require any advice or assistance in respect of your digital workplace, including helping your company to work smarter and respond faster, please get in touch.

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