Now that we’re well into social distancing measures, millions are working from home, layoffs have begun and everybody’s fearing a recession. This Covid-19 pandemic can feel a bit like the end of the world, but the world, most definitely, won’t end.
The social distancing, the business closure mandates, the shuttering of non-essential services – all these factors will start to get better over the next few weeks or months, but the economic downturn may last a good while longer.
In order to succeed in this uncertain future, organizations must plan for it.
Today we’ll share with you some steps that you and your organization should be considering now to prepare for the post-pandemic world.
1. Increase spending on IT now
This might seem counter-intuitive but consider the impact of all the current trends.
The biggest and most immediate trend is a move toward cost containment. A recent survey found that 62% of organizations are taking coronavirus-related cost-containment measures.
Broadly, this cost-containment is being enacted by replacing the physical with the virtual, video-chat instead of business travel, meetings and conferences, meaning you should be spending the money you save on travel on your video-conferencing IT.
Another key change is that huge numbers of employees who used to work in offices are now working from home and it is likely that this will change the ratio of office and home working permanently. This shift involves spending less on facilities and more on IT that enables remote-work.
A global recession also incentivises cybercrime and we have already seen a rise in cyber-attacks targeting applications that have seen an upsurge in adoption as a result of social distancing. Cyber-criminals will continue to exploit Coronavirus fears via social engineering and phishing attacks. Furthermore, widespread layoffs and company closures focus these attacks on the employees and companies still working. It’s less expensive to pay for the right security infrastructure than to pay the cost of a breach.
Many in your organization will want to cut everything across the board. But this is a recipe for disaster. In order to cut costs, you should focus on lower-cost alternatives. To blindly cut everything, including IT, is likely to result in failures, meltdowns and cyberattacks and make it much more difficult to recover when the crisis ends.
2. Plan for permanent increases in work-from-home
Everyone is talking about the “work-from-home” phenomenon, mostly in the context of the psychological adjustments required for remote workers. Less appreciated though is that organizations are facing unprecedented strains on communications infrastructure.
The use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN), VoIP telephone systems and online messaging and collaborative applications has sky-rocketed over the past 14-days. For example, Microsoft’s Teams conferencing app’ gained more than 12 million daily users in a single week! Slack is seeing similar rises in usage, and both Zoom, and Cisco’s WebEx have also seen a significant surge in use.
This work-from-home shift means employees are now relying on consumer broadband services, which are suddenly experiencing record usage, to the extent that many popular streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, have all been forced by European directive to decrease video quality to help ease the strain.
It’s very possible that your employees may lose connectivity periodically or suffer from painfully slow connections because the consumer broadband services they’re using are not be able to keep up with the demand.
It makes sense then to plan for the distribution of mobile hotspots and other means to get home workers online and to make provisions to ensure that your remote access and videoconferencing solutions are adequately provisioned and secured.
It’s also true that a great many organizations have been caught flat-footed on remote work in the policy department.
This should be addressed immediately. Make sure your “IT Use Policy” is updated for the current situation, and covers eligibility, responsiveness and productivity expectations, work hours, equipment, tech’ support process, security, physical environment, confidentiality and termination. Continue to build and evolve your remote-work policy during and after the crisis.
Many remote workers in your organization won’t have the skills, inclinations, personality or habits necessary to successfully work from home, so you’ll likely need on-going online training to help them cope. You could also look at our recent Blog: “How to Stay Productive when Working from Home” for help with this.
Finally, and very importantly, IT personnel are going to be working from home and this shift could well be permanent for many, which requires special adjustments in infrastructure, hardware, software and training.
3. Build the capability to communicate centrally
In a crisis, and in a post-crisis future where people are more decentralized, the need for central communication is greater than ever. You need to ensure that information is disseminated to everyone clearly, transparently and in a timely manner.
Parallel to and compatible with this effort, you also need to communicate clearly and frequently with customers, partners and other stakeholders involved in your business.
Communication is the most important element of leadership. During and after the crisis, a return to successful operations will require leadership. Everyone will be looking to the organization’s leaders to reassure them that there’s a steady hand at the wheel, to contextualize events for a big picture and to get everyone pulling in the same direction.
With skill and good planning your organization will get through this crisis.
Success and growth after the pandemic will depend in large part on what you do now, during the pandemic. So, stay calm, think long-term and lead your organization through the crisis and into a successful future.
Stay well everyone.
About the author: Julian Brettle has over 20 years of experience as a technical salesperson for IT MSPs and likes nothing more than a cup of coffee and a chat about how to cure your IT headaches. Follow him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/julianbrettle/
Supreme Systems is an information technology company established since 2008.
Leading IT Services provider and Cloud solutions for businesses in West Midlands.