None of us could have anticipated how quickly the Coronavirus has spread globally – and the extent of the fear and panic that has spread even faster. It’s important that we don’t allow matters to get out of control. Businesses, large and small, are worried about their future. The travel, hospitality and retail (apart from food and essential items) sectors are decimated. Business meetings and conferences are now carried out online. Offices are temporarily closing and work from home strategies are being implemented.
Although many firms will be confident they have a business continuity plan in place, it may never have properly been put to the test. Some businesses may not have tested the impact of all staff remotely logging onto the server simultaneously. Although a business may have set up a centralised filing system, they may find when they come to work from home, that some colleagues have not been storing files in the right place and there may be different versions of the same project filed all over the business.
Better online discipline
We are going to have to get better at centralising our data AND making sure that no-one stores data on their local machine. There’s a plethora of file sharing and collaboration tools like Trello, Google Docs and Office 365 which are designed to allow colleagues to share and contribute to projects. They just need to be used consistently by every member of staff. This is not only good data hygiene, it’s also safer in terms of long-term security (provided a centralised backup system is in place). You also need to make sure that the solutions you have are right for your organisation and will integrate with your other business solutions.
The long-term impact of the pandemic
Apart from the medical impact, there will be longer term social effects of this virus that has shut down entire nations. We will start to evaluate whether business meetings face-to-face are really necessary or whether we would actually be more efficient to use online tools. Virtual meeting solutions such as Teams, Zoom and Webex have been used with varying levels of success for several years by firms that have staff based offsite.
But for the majority of businesses, face-to-face meetings have until now been the preferred way to work. And we all like to get out of the office to go to networking meetings and conferences. In the current situation, public encounters of any kind are out of the question. But once this immediate crisis is over, we could find that online webinars and virtual events could become the norm.
Time will tell about the long-term impact of COVID-19. We can only hope that we can all get through this. And as professionals, we need is to make sure that our businesses can operate as effectively as possible for the next few months. If you would like advice on your remote working system, contact us.