The Digital Workplace

3 Ways to Maintain Business Continuity Amidst Coronavirus Concerns: by Tim Hiscox, Head of Digital Workplace, Maintel

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is forcing organisations to reconsider or accelerate their digital workplace capabilities, particularly those tied to remote working, in order to accommodate any business disruptions caused by the virus. 

If digital transformation in the workplace wasn’t a priority for your business heading into 2020, it certainly should be now. As official government updates confirm the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to continue spreading for the foreseeable future, a key component of managing the epidemic is likely to be a reduction in travel and periods of self-isolation.

Whilst this is a necessary precaution, businesses must be mindful of how best to prepare to accommodate this without sacrificing productivity and continuity. One effective way to ensure the disruption to the business is minimal is remote or flexible working; From Ford to Unilever, businesses around the world are taking action to limit the spread of the virus.  

Although many organisations are able to support remote working to a degree, it is more important than ever to consider if your digital workplace capabilities can support what Sri Srinivasan, SVP and GM of Cisco System Inc has described as the most ‘unprecedented increase in remote working around the world”.   

Preparing a workplace contingency plan might seem like a daunting task, but there are some simple ways you can make the most of your digital workplace to remain productive and ensure business continuity:  

Deploy Unified Communications for telephony, video, instant messaging, and presence  

Modern Unified Communication tools provide multimedia messaging services to users that can completely replace their desktop telephone, removing the need for your employees to be at their desk to continue working.  

Many vendors include applications for mobile phones and tablets. Aside from voice and video calls, these applications can also provide presence services to help you and your staff manage availability and remain in touch, even when apart.  
Most companies with a modern IP based telephony system can quickly deploy the core features of these applications with a simple license purchase from their suppliers. In many cases, the licensing is already deployed, and the application needs only pushing out to users.  

Utilise collaboration tools and online meetings  

Effective meetings can be challenging in person, let alone when working remotely from different locations. However, with the right collaboration tools and service online meetings can be incredibly efficient – especially when video is used to maximise engagement.  

There is a cornucopia of services that you can take as cloud services, from Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams to Avaya Spaces and Mitel MiCollab.  Almost every vendor has a free trial offer and companies like Maintel can help you to integrate them into your existing licensing and technology estate. 

Emailing back and forth can be terribly inefficient, especially when co-authoring content. Collaborative tools like Office 365 and Teams enable effective co-authoring, making merged changes, managing versions, and tracking completion infinitely easier.   

Don’t forget to keep it human 

Whatever applications you choose to deploy, don’t forget about the human interface. Firstly, Laptop microphones and speakers are notoriously bad for collaboration and meeting tools. Investing in a quality headset for each employee from vendors like Poly or Jabra can make all the difference in enabling your teams to conduct business as usual without glitches.   

Secondly, a huge number of your workers will need training and guidance on the features of their new tools, let alone recommendations on best practice.  Take the time to nominate remote working champions in your business, host virtual drop-ins, share best practices, and provide access to training videos.  

Given the uncertain and changing nature of the workplace, as Coronavirus continues to impact our lives, it’s vital for a business to be agile, flexible, and reliable in providing employees with the tools they need to be productive and effective wherever they are, whenever they are needed. 

Many technology providers are extending their usual free and trial offerings on meeting and collaboration services to help organisations manage temporarily. We too are working with our customers to accelerate their digital workplace capabilities and deploy a variety of cloud services to support business consistency. 

If you’re keen to find the right cloud solution for your business, get in touch today to learn more.