Over the last few weeks, I’ve spoken to many colleagues, customers and vendors about the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact, and it’s clear to me there’ll be a ‘new norm’ for society as well as knock-on implications for all businesses going forward.
During my conversations, many topics have come up, but 5 in particular have come up time and again and seem most important right now:
Throughout this crisis, I’m hearing stories within our own business as well as from other organisations, teams and individuals across all sectors and countries, about people doing the most amazing things to help each other. It’s highlighted again that the more compassion you have about the care, safety and wellbeing of your colleagues, and extend this to their families and loved ones, the more resilient, helpful and loyal our people will be in return. Providing colleagues with the tools, flexibility and understanding that there will be pets, family and loved ones in the background while working will make such a difference to how we all adapt and keep adding value.
This isn’t the time to worry about current IT change programmes or trying to sell more, it’s about listening to colleagues, customers and partners, asking what we can do to help, and then really listening to their answers and coming up with solutions. There’s no blueprint for dealing with Coronavirus. We’re all learning and collaborating to accelerate that learning. It’s so important to communicate with customers, to share information, experience and ideas to help with strategies and planning. The communications need to be super clear and really straightforward. We’re working with our customers in this way and helping them maintain their operations with things like increased bandwidth and remote working capability. We’re giving particular focus to those businesses where their ability to stay operational gives us as individuals the best chance to stay operational – e.g. health care, government, pharmaceutical, banks, food manufacturers and retailers.
At a time where there are lots of enterprise collaboration and social media tools available, it’s vital that business leaders are seen to lead by example in communicating during this unprecedented challenge. They need to invest time in sharing their stories of life during the Coronavirus pandemic – both professional and personal. It’s a good way to reassure people that we’re in this together. It’s also good for boosting morale and keeping people connected. Whatever happens going forward, this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, and so we need to adopt ways of working, top-down and bottom-up, which allow people to engage with each other virtually where we can no longer do it physically. And the focus shouldn’t just be on work, but on the fun stuff too, like virtual coffee mornings and after-work discos. It’s also important in a time of massive upheaval to check in on each other. Make sure people have someone to speak to other than family, and particularly look out for those colleagues who may not even have that.
The colleagues, customers, vendors and industry players I’m talking to are telling us that connectivity and technology are absolutely vital to them at this time. Connectivity has always been important, but who would have thought it would be this critical to keep societies and businesses functioning during this time. Across our business and customer base, we’re seeing leadership teams using technology to get their messages out – internally and externally. This is all possible thanks to connectivity and great apps. From Delhi to Sao Paulo, from Budapest to London, from Hong Kong to Frankfurt, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are now being enabled to work from home. They’re using laptops connected to home broadband, accessing corporate networks and apps via VPN capability, trying to keep things normal and operational. They need more connectivity, more 4G, more broadband, more VPN, more bandwidth and more collaboration tools, such as Teams, Zoom, WebEx and MeetMe. The result? A question of whether working will ever return to the way it was before.
This sudden shift to remote working is difficult for businesses on a number of levels. Networks and infrastructure are under pressure and there are more apps than ever being accessed in ways they haven’t been previously. Employees need to be able to work from home, which means balancing access to the data and systems needed with not creating new security vulnerabilities. So it’s super important that all employees are clear on the potential risks of working from home. We’re seeing a noticeable uptick in malicious behaviour as scammers and hackers try to take advantage of people during this time. They’re working hard to make people use their fast thinking versus their rational thinking, knowing that it’s not as easy to verify an email, URL or directive at home as it is when you’re sat amongst your colleagues in the office. And we need be on the lookout for advanced persistent threats — trying to gain access to networks – and ransomware and DDoS attacks. One thing’s for sure, organisations are going to have to rethink their operational model going forward and create more robust and more resilient business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Today, such plans don’t cater for such high levels of home working.
There are many other considerations during this time, but these 5 areas stuck out to me the most. The one thing they all have in common though is people – colleagues, family, customers, partners, etc. People are the key and any action during this time needs to centre on them. When we look back on Coronavirus in years to come, the positive to come out of it all will hopefully be how people and technology made a crucial difference at a critical time.
If your organisation is being affected, please get in touch. Whether it’s practical help or reassurance, we’re here to help.