We continue our discourse regarding work-away-from work, initiated last week. As the COVID-19 pandemic has aggressively spread across the world, and across Africa, we are all attempting to adapt and adjust to what is a continually evolving situation. While schools and places of work shut and self-isolation becomes preferred, continuing organizational operations is challenging yet necessary to power through the pandemic.
For many organizations, the past two weeks have been chaotic. Continuing to meet the needs of beneficiaries, while fulfilling their duty of care to staff, many have been embracing remote working as the new norm. But even that isn’t enough for some NPOs that are having to undergo a total re-think of what their service operating model must look like if it is going to survive.
It can feel hugely overwhelming. And even more so when organizations and their IT teams are having to make decisions in hours, days and weeks that might in other circumstances take a year in the planning. For those who are used to the conventional office life and a steady rate of social interactions at the office, the shift to remote work as a result of social distancing might cause a surprising, even if relatively mild, impact on mental wellbeing. To address this challenge, supervisors need to keep contact with their teams as moral support approach and stress-release tool. Keeping in touch with beneficiaries, provide a totally easy way to access services and ensure that users can do so on whatever computer they own in a secure way. That means choosing an approach which ensures secure and simple access to the tools employees need, irrespective of device.
This needs to be able to evolve as the overall situation does; when it comes to technology, that means no lock-in, with the ability to evolve as the first fortnight turns into the first month and beyond. Put simply, this is only achievable through software.
Organizations that can adapt quickly are the ones that will continue to operate effectively, and that means realising that they don’t need to be perfect. It’s more important that once they have their digital workspace, they identify their critical staff and the tools they need as quickly as possible. Once they’re in place, the rest of the operations, and less critical services, can be brought onto the platform as it scales.
How could organizations master this new trend.
Firstly, employers need to define policies and boundaries, with HR and IT teams working collaboratively to create processes that protect staff and organizations. Few IT teams will have the time or resource to be thinking about who needs access to which application or folders, they want the user to request it. This self-service model can help determine if each user has the appropriate security level to access the tools and applications they require:
Have the right remote service access in place:
This is a starting point: ideal for some workers, but others will need their laptop and carry on working, as they usually do in the office, with an internet connection. That requires a level of governance. Collaboration, and having the ability to communicate, is also critical both from an operational continuity perspective and maintaining organization culture. Finally, simplicity is king. It needs to have a single point of access for all work the minimum amount of effort and technical knowledge for employees to get to what they need in order to do their jobs, irrespective of device or location. A software-based digital workspace solution can enable employees to be productive from day one on their devices of choice.
Having those priorities informing the deployment of a digital workspace solution means that organisations will have laid the groundworks from which they can continue to deliver. That means that over the coming weeks, the very immediate requirement of remote working will be replaced with a need to formalise arrangements.
As employees become more comfortable with their new normal, organizations will have the opportunity to look at what was once a challenge as an opportunity and see how they can build on the benefits of having distributed, connected teams.
For all workers, not just the office
It’s also important to remember that discussions around location-flexible working focus primarily on office workers, yet for many organizations, this segment of employees is just one of a number across their workforce. Initially, for those on the front line, not being able to come into work has significant economic ramifications. As well as using their digital workspaces to keep those workers engaged with the operations, when sites do reopen, there is an opportunity to redeploy on-the-ground staff with digital tools and access to offer a differentiated level of service and experience. Organizations need to get the foundations right and today’s reality of immediate need is making that possible.
These are challenging times for any organization operation. Being able to give employees and beneficiaries a sense of continuity comes second only to keeping them safe. As organizations explore ways of balancing the two, remote working is coming to the fore.
Sources: Lorna Hardie (VMware), Jenna Delport