While many organisations already had agile working practices in place pre-lockdown, the requirement to maintain business continuity throughout the pandemic has led to a notable increase in the adoption of remote working technology over the last few months. As we begin to move towards a ‘new normal’, leaders should consider the steps they can take to increase business resilience and how technological investments fit into their overall strategy.
Make the most out of technology
From Zoom to Microsoft Teams, businesses have had to quickly adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 by implementing technological solutions. These platforms have allowed many companies to keep up business continuity and improve workforce wellbeing, as well as reducing the number of employees feeling isolated during lockdown.
Similarly, cloud-based services, which enable teams to collaborate in real-time on a single document, have allowed companies to improve their creativity and team dynamic – something which may not have happened so freely in a time before lockdown. With this in mind, returning to old ways of working could represent a significant step back for many. Instead, businesses should take the opportunity to consider what worked well during lockdown, and what did not; this will allow them to identify areas for improvement.
Understand the long-term impact
When implementing any change, companies should consider the ripple effects that it will have across the business. To ensure that investments pay off and that negative impacts are limited, business leaders should consider how they will complement the overall business strategy.
Although remote working tools have played a huge role in keeping businesses running during the coronavirus crisis, focusing on these innovations alone is unlikely to improve business performance. Implementing new technologies without considering any knock-on impacts on the wider business may make it difficult to deliver long-lasting results from new technology changes.
Perhaps the laptops provided to employees are not powerful enough to cope with new remote working software, or the cloud-based service that was chosen originally isn’t as efficient as first thought. Either way, this transformation process should be carefully managed to ensure improvements stand the test of time.
For change to be rolled out smoothly, businesses must also consider the opinions of their employees. Keeping the workforce informed and involved in transformation projects will make the transition much easier, as will the recognition that employees are individuals and may well have different needs. For instance, some employees may be reluctant to embrace new technology due to worries around learning new processes, while others may question why the change is going ahead during such an uncertain time. However, by clearly communicating the reasons for change and offering employees support throughout the process, business leaders can implement positive and long-lasting change.
COVID-19 has forced companies to reassess their priorities and scrutinise long-established processes. However, by embracing the benefits that technology can bring and supporting employees through the change, companies can face the future with confidence.
Tim Powlson, senior business consultant, and Luke Taylor, programme manager