The COVID-19 pandemic has driven many more companies to work and collaborate remotely in 2020 than would otherwise have done so. But in a blog by Microsoft this month, it is claimed that for remote working to be a long-term success, we need to change how we think about it.
Faced with the reality of lockdown in the second quarter of this year, many businesses who were in the early stages of rolling out cloud-based software brought their plans forward, in a bid to give staff the tools and systems they needed to be able to work from home.
The rate of uptake in digital transformation technology was staggering with companies scrambling to invest in new connectivity, hardware and security products for users confined to their houses. Indeed, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s Chief Executive, spoke about how the world had gone through “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”.
In June, the NHS deployed Microsoft 365 to over 1 million staff throughout various organisations including Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups. Schools, colleges and universities also rushed to deploy software such as Microsoft Teams to enable teachers and students to remain in touch and share work.
Respond, Recover & Reimagine
Despite these apparent technological advances, Microsoft acknowledges the pandemic has also generated ‘turmoil and uncertainty’ for organisations across the world.
Now after months spent listening to customers and learning of the ways they have adapted to a world in lockdown, they describe a three-phased approach by UK companies in the light of this year’s events: respond, recover and reimagine.
The first phase was simply to respond to the immediate impact of COVID-19 and some key statistics would certainly indicate a strong reaction in terms of product usage: deployment of Windows Virtual Desktop tripled in the first quarter of 2020 and Windows 10 now has more than 1 billion monthly active devices (up 30% on this time last year).
The second phase is about how organisations get back on track and begin functioning again whilst learning to living with the virus. A recent Microsoft report reveals 83% of UK managers expect to see more flexible work from home policies post-pandemic with 72% of UK employees and managers expressing a desire to continue working from home at least part-time.
So finally, the third phase looks to the future, inviting UK companies to reimagine the very nature of their operations by considering the positives that can be taken from 2020. Microsoft argues that for any kind of hybrid workplace transformation to prove a success, businesses will need to focus on three things simultaneously: leadership, culture and technology.
Clearly, employee expectations have changed, and a new perception is emerging of a ‘good work-life balance’. Traditionally, companies have enticed the best people to work for them with perks such as health insurance and a company car. But with workers spending less time on the road, would the best candidates be more attracted by top of the range hardware, an ergonomic chair and high-speed broadband?
What will phase three look like for your business?