We have all learned a lot from the lockdown – about ourselves, our families and our businesses. It’s important that even though there have been difficulties and challenges, we should emerge from lockdown with some positives from the experience.
As business people, we may have thought that we were prepared for the impact of disasters. Many of us had well defined business continuity plans that have been developed over time. But, we’ve probably all come to understand that even with our most thoughtful planning, we were not as prepared for the extent and the impact of the lockdown. It’s probably safe to say that most of us hadn’t anticipated a global pandemic with social isolation continuing for several months.
Working from home
Even if many of us work from home on a regular basis, we probably didn’t work full-time from home with no face-to-face real-world contact. And our plans probably hadn’t anticipated that our partners and extended families would also be in the same position, working from home or simply needing to be entertained/educated.
Whilst in normal situations, we may have already been set up to work from home for a few days, the speed with which we all had to set ourselves up to work remotely on a more permanent basis has caught many people off guard.
Communications with our colleagues, clients and business contacts, as well as extended family and friends, have become a lifeline to us all. So, more than ever, we value the importance of a stable internet connection. Access to reliable wi-fi may have also required some of us to use our negotiation skills when trying to persuade a bored teenager that they really didn’t need to be playing Fortnite at the same time as your important project call.
With the importance of video calls, we’re now starting to appreciate the camera positioning of our laptop – and some devices are better designed than others. You may well have already had an unflattering view of a colleague over the last few weeks!
Collaboration software such as Slack, Teams and Google Meet have become our essential business tools. And these tools are not just for meetings and online chats. For example, if we are working on joint projects with colleagues, we may also be working together on specific documents, so it is vital to maintain document version control to see where co-workers have made amendments.
Productivity tools like Microsoft 365 facilitate this kind of collaborative working. And now that so many of us have got used to cloud-based systems like this, we will no doubt become more reliant on them. Embracing technology and cloud-based systems will provide us all with new ways of working.
The future of meetings
While we’ve been in lockdown, virtual meetings have now become the norm. Most of us seem to have back-to-back Zoom or Teams calls to keep in touch with our co-workers, clients and contacts.
Time will tell whether video meetings remain as popular or whether we will resume meetings in person. But no doubt, we will in future think more about how often we travel to meetings and whether a meeting can just as easily be done by video.
After the lockdown?
For now, government advice is that if we can work from home, we should do so. And until the virus threat is reduced, this makes sense. But we need to start thinking about how we should run our businesses once the lockdown is lifted.
For many of us, working at home is a real pleasure and we’ve found that we are more productive at home. Others miss the camaraderie of office life and benefit from engagement and face-to-face collaboration (even if in the future, it will have to be at a distance).
And there are arguments in favour of more flexible working, with some colleagues primarily office-based and others working remotely. But one lesson that we’ve all learnt is it is possible to operate our businesses remotely.
One of the principal lessons that we’ve learnt from the lockdown is that planning is essential. Although, as we’ve learnt, we cannot plan for every eventuality, those of us who had plans in place to continue our businesses as normally as possible if a disaster occurred, were in a stronger position.
For advice and guidance on your options for your IT systems after the lockdown is lifted, contact us.