Whatever the next few months have in store, 2020 will go down in history as a landmark year for business infrastructure – pushing companies to rapidly mobilise remote working solutions that connect staff and maintain productivity.
Some firms have been well prepared for the sudden shift to their staff working from home, but others are undergoing a rapid period of digital transformation, in order to adapt their IT systems for the new reality.
If your business falls into the latter category, don’t worry; rapid, effective digital transformation is possible – and it can be done using much of the technology you already have in place.
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Even before COVID-19, remote working was gaining momentum; at the end of 2019, IWG research found that 61% of companies had a remote working policy in place. These organisations were already looking at how their infrastructure needed to evolve for employees to operate from home, but the urgency surrounding digital transformation has now increased.
There are huge benefits to letting staff do their job from any location; no commuting time means people can start work earlier, feeling calm and fresh, and they can establish a daily pattern that fits their most productive periods.
Longer-term, it also creates flexible working opportunities for people that juggle personal commitments alongside their career, such as childcare or caring for relatives – so companies can retain talented employees who struggle to fit the traditional 9-5, in-office model.
Remote working is not as simple as making sure someone can access their email account from their smartphone or laptop, however. There are many documents, programmes and systems that staff need to access on a daily basis, and data needs to flow just as easily remotely as it does in the office – without security being compromised.
Company leaders also have a responsibility to help teams collaborate from any location, something that is more important than ever to successful business operations. Harvard Business Review research has found that professionals spend up to 80% of their time in meetings, on the phone or responding to emails, and collaborative activities between managers and employees has surged by 50% in the past two decades.
One of the biggest barriers to digital transformation – which the current climate is helping to overcome – is the misconception that expensive new systems or long-winded consultations are required to set up a secure and effective remote working infrastructure.
Actually, there’s a lot that companies can do with your existing software to ensure that workers can submit, file, share and report with colleagues instantly, regardless of their location. Here are some examples of the way in which your current technology can be leveraged in new ways:
Personal laptops and mobile devices are the quickest and easiest way to get people up and working, as well as collaborating with others, especially if access to authorised devices is at a premium. However, it’s worth noting that additional software may need to be installed on these devices first, to ensure that data only flows within a secure business network.
Office 365 or G-suite power most company emails, but there is a lot more these programmes can do to support remote working capabilities. They include many interconnecting applications, which can be used to transform the way your business works – including teamwork, planning and insight tools, which are worth singling out…
Microsoft Teams is a popular tool for external partner calls, and this platform can also be utilised to help internal teams communicate by audio, video or instant message. Teams also includes an activity section, which can be used to schedule and assign workload in a way that is visible to departments or even the whole company.
Microsoft SharePoint is an easy way to save documentation in a location that is accessible to everyone, in any location. It can be integrated with applications and automation tools, so that employees are able to curate the project content they require to get on with their job effectively.
Power BI is an effective way to bring all the activities across shared applications such as Office 365, SharePoint and Teams together, to leverage valuable data insights and understand the positive impact that good, home-based collaboration is having on your workforce.
The examples we’ve shared show how easy it is to establish a remote working infrastructure using the tools your business already owns, but this can’t be done in a piecemeal manner. With any digital transformation project, the systems your business has acquired and grown over the years are suddenly thrown under a microscope, and you need to ascertain whether their use in a remote working situation will propel your business forward, or potentially hold it back.
Thinking strategically about which systems you want to prioritise will help your business to put an effective plan of action in place, so you can flex existing IT to the new home-working reality. And you may wish to gain some expert advice in this quick-mapping process, to ensure you are putting the right platforms at the forefront of your plan, and have considered any potential pitfalls.
If you don’t have technology expertise in-house, turning to an external digital transformation specialist like Epoq IT is a powerful route forward. Our 5-step, 30-day digital transformation programme is a rapid, lean model for change – identifying the core needs of your business and making highly actionable recommendations, before providing the support and training your organisation requires to roll-out new working methods successfully.
In these fast-moving, unpredictable times, Epoq IT understands that technical agility is key to survival, and your workforce must adapt quickly to a sudden change in working structure. We’ll help you flex your current IT systems to fit the reality of this environment, so your team can find a ‘new normal’ as quickly as possible.
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