Every industry, from small businesses to the largest global enterprises, is experiencing dramatic changes to the way we work. There are substantial pressures on organisations to rapidly adopt a new remote working model so that organisations and economies can continue to operate. While technology is available to support this goal, the measure of success will be people transacting and delivering output across the entire value chain.
A range of factors must be considered to successfully implement the new working model.
Technology decisions made about the modern workplace are strategic and transformative with long-running organisational impacts post COVID-19. The process can be accelerated, but your technology decision must be considered with regard to your enterprise architecture at a strategic level. This will minimise the risk of making a potentially wrong decision and its negative impacts.
Contextual hindsight: Practice governance on the run and maintain the discipline of capturing and documenting the logic and decision-making data. Future reviews of decisions will need to consider the circumstances upon which decisions were made which may be forgotten or misconstrued.
Technology will be impacted across the spectrum. There are multiple technology options and paths that can be taken to deliver the tools for your teams.
Cloud-adoption: Software-as-a-Service solutions are available to meet remote worker’s needs; however, cloud migration requires careful planning and consideration. To enable rapid implementation of remote worker access, hybrid environments can be constructed that take the pressure off migration activities. End-users will be able to access and send emails, file-share, report and gain data access.
Network Infrastructure and Remote Access: Options exist to rapidly deploy or extend VPN by using an appliance-based VPN solution coupled with end-point software. An appliance-based solution will enable scaling up and down as demand changes and provide appropriate security while enabling rapid deployment.
End-user Compute and Devices: if your organisation has limited access to flexible end-user compute devices like laptops or tablets take a look at our Home Office Solutions. Alternatively, BYOD can be quickly enabled through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), coupled with Endpoint Device Management.
WAN and Bandwidth: Reliable WAN connectivity is essential. IT must review existing capabilities against the potential load from new remote end-users and remediate. Redundancy of the WAN links should be investigated with a pre-emptive redundancy validation exercise completed.
Security: Remote access to on-premises capabilities and the introduction of cloud services increase the risk of security vulnerabilities. For cloud-based services the emphasis is on personal security – identity, credentials and information sharing. For on-premises capabilities the emphasis, while still on personal security, extends to remote access vulnerabilities. Proactive monitoring should be implemented.
Costs: Solution vendors have stepped up to assist in this challenging time. The majority of the vendors have released trial periods for their solutions. These can be used as tests as well as keeping immediate costs down. Assess solutions within the context of your architectural direction and current licensing arrangements to ensure you have the best architectural and licensing fit for your organisation.
See offers and free trials from our Security vendors.
Explore flexible procurement models to purchase hardware such as leases or Device-as-a-Service.
Information Management: A dedicated focus is required for Information Management (IM). It is a critical component of your new working model. Individuals and teams will be creating, developing, managing and storing information in new ways in new technologies. IM practices must be modelled to ensure that structures are setup. Protect your future self against a morass of disassociated information with no home, no classification, no security and residing in individuals heads as to how it was created and where to find it. It will be a mess that no-one will have the energy to solve.
How people use the tools, interact and deliver output is the true measure of success. Teams and individuals must deliver their work-product, complete their function and role, and contribute positively to the organisation operation while working in new models of delivery. This will be challenging and there will be disruption, however there are actions that can be taken now that minimise the level of disruption. Equally, learnings must also be captured and applied as the new working model takes root.
Adopt and embed new ways of working: Expend effort to understand where the changes are going to occur and what remodelling of processes is required to fit those changes. Leverage new technologies to automate these new processes where possible. Automation enables people to create positive new habits when they conduct their work. The good news is that the best time to create and embed change is during major change and disruption.
Productivity: This is the fundamental goal (and concern) of working remotely. How is productivity achieved if people are not co-located and that associated organisational pressure to deliver output doesn’t exist? There is an entire subject area that questions how productive individuals truly are on a day-to-day basis. Research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes.1 The eight-hour workday designed during the industrial revolution is ripe for disruption. While this isn’t a focus for the current emergency response, don’t completely discard this thought.
There are actions you can take to assist in delivering productivity for remote working:
Communications: How do we stay connected and what medium should we use to communicate for what circumstance? With limitations on face-to-face, new communications structures must be established that replace the ad-hoc but high-value exchanges such as meetings, water cooler chat, leaning over the partition or grabbing a coffee. Develop a plan and cadence for communications and align your outputs to the best communications mechanisms that suit. These can be regular team-meetings via video conferencing, group phone calls, WhatsApp, instant messaging, wikis or collaboration boards.
It is better to over-communicate than under-communicate, particularly in the early stages of remote working. Aside from remaining aligned on output, it is important for social and mental health. Human nature values interaction and this must be considered when developing communication plans and structure. Develop processes and electronic spaces that enable human interaction outside of work. Data#3 staff have created a facebook group to encourage peers to remain active and other teams around the business have started group chats to stay social, share stories and memes.
Keep customers top of mind: While there will be a tendency to focus on your own internal operations, consideration must be given to working with customers to ensure you’re still interacting in a way that’s delivering value. All participants in a value chain are committed to commerce and improving the current state. They too will have similar stresses. How we go about adopting new practices and working with clients will play a large role in determining who will be successful at managing their way through.
Consider each project, customer obligation and servicing from a remote operations perspective and develop a plan. Have conversations with your clients early so all parties can still transact and operate. This should include the medium you engage, the processes for delivery of your value and how people and technology will work together to achieve target outcomes.
Test, Learn, Remodel: This is an immediate and substantial change to the working model, a model that has been in place since the Industrial Revolution. The new working model is about what value is being delivered. Innovators have been preparing, advancing and delivering on this model for some time. Embrace this change and test, learn and remodel your processes and operations. Use this time to capture what works and what doesn’t so it can be applied, not only during this time but post COVID-19.
All these factors need to be considered and acted upon to some degree for the new working model to be successful. The technology will work. It’s considering all the elements that will determine the success of the new technology. As CIOs will often lament, the success of technology projects has little to do with the technology, but all to do with people operating in a better place than they were before. This cannot be achieved by technology alone.
Fundamentally, the new model of working will generate change. Decision makers will be forced to confront what productivity truly means. People will rethink the Industrial Revolution driven eight-hour day and output will become king. Flexible work options will become feasible, reducing the need for co-location which will flow to reduce office rental costs, reduced demand on transport infrastructure (reducing government costs) and reducing emissions.
The technologies that underpin the new, modern workplace are transformative. If considered and implemented correctly, your organisation will be in a better position as we emerge post-COVID-19. There will be significant, unharnessed potential with your organisation to leverage your upgraded technologies and a workforce’s understanding of how to deliver new and increased value in a virtual environment.
1. Business Insider Australia, Research suggests there’s a case for the 3 hour workday, Chris Weller, 2017 [Online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/8-hour-workday-may-be-5-hours-too-long-research-suggests-2017-9?r=US&IR=T
Tags: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Security, The Anywhere Workplace, Collaboration, Information Management, Remote Access, Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Remote Workers, COVID-19