Sridhar Iyengar, MD for Zoho Europe offers advice and guidance to businesses about how to tackle the ‘Plan B’ measures introduced by the UK government this December
The government has reintroduced ‘Plan B’ measures to tackle Covid-19 this winter, including the introduction of mandatory Covid-19 passports, compulsory face coverings, and, most crucially to UK business and economy, the return of ‘work from home’ (WFH) advice.
‘Plan B’ measures had been considered for a number of weeks before finally being announced earlier this month.
National media outlets have indicated that ‘Plan B’ Covid measures may cost the UK economy up to £18bn, whilst the repercussions on businesses of all sizes could be far more severe should they not prepare appropriately for all possible outcomes.
Adapting to remote working this time round is a completely different endeavour to the short-term solution employed when Covid-19 first hit, or during the second wave last year. Not only have customers’ expectations for online services inherently altered, but the employee experience has also seen increased emphasis.
Regardless of the sector, businesses must be equipped to offer tailored, round-the-clock, and efficient services that are resilient to the constantly changing economy and new industry trends which are regularly subject to volatile change.
Business leaders cannot afford to fall into the trap of assuming that because they have done it before, they can do it again. It is imperative that they equip themselves with the right strategy, tools, technology, and know-how to thrive under ‘Plan B’ measures and beyond.
Reassessing digital infrastructure
Remote or hybrid working technology is key to unlocking the full potential of a business, and with the correct tools in place, alongside good teaching, employees can work from anywhere, without a drop in efficiency. However, with this, organisations need to continually review their workplace operations to ensure their security strategy is effective.
When selecting the right tools, decision makers must consider how well they ‘speak’ to each other. Most businesses tend to adopt a ‘Best of Business’ approach to their applications and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, rarely taking the time to consider how well they will integrate into the existing infrastructure. This has shown to be all the more true during the first pandemic lockdowns when businesses had to quickly pivot and many chose short-term piecemeal solutions, rather than thinking about a long-term sustainable strategy.
Owning the ‘full stack’ is an alternative solution which guarantees seamless interoperability for businesses. It allows users to share data between systems, communicate across applications, and access multiple functions and tools from one central hub.
Strategic changes involving the management of working conditions from senior decision makers and managers is important to ensure a seamless remote working operation.
There is a lot of responsibility for management and higher-ups to facilitate training for new technology, establish open lines of communication between colleagues and staffers, and implement guidelines for how remote working under ‘Plan B’ differs from usual operations. It is important for businesses to lead by example to ensure the increased productivity of staff.
Benefit from enforced short-term remote working
Short-term remote working can be advantageous. Under the right conditions it can improve employee wellbeing, increase workplace efficiency and act as a trial for a longer-term solution such as a hybrid working model. Businesses that have not shifted effectively to adapt enough to this are likely to have already experienced difficulty with many aspects of running their business and unless change is implemented, risk failure.
Simply attempting to recreate an ‘office’ culture is not enough, and leaders should consider all of the new options which play well to their business. For example, giving flexibility to employees over working hours is one way of boosting productivity away from the office.
Remote working can also help to improve companies on a granular level. It can improve diversity initiatives, enable via remote hiring, for example, and increase perception to new technology, such as CX applications to aid customer engagement and meet sales conversion targets.
Through a combination of digital infrastructure and strategic changes, every business can benefit from remote working in the short term and can look positively towards the future, taking the opportunity to prepare for a sustainable working model. Though there are exceptions, we view best practice as a hybrid working model for the long-term, something which is already being widely adopted by many.